School of Economics

Focus papers

Research briefings for the general public

Communal Land and Agricultural Productivity

Jan Grobovsek evaluates the effects of the 'communal agricultural land tenure' policy institution that is widespread around the developing world. The policy's defining characteristic being that individual land property rights are not complete as allocative control over land is vested in either the community or the state. The focus of the research is based in Ethiopia with models used to measure the impact of several policy reforms.

Jan Grobovšek

Focus Paper 22

The early origins of birth order differences in children's outcomes and parental behaviour

Many studies show that children born earlier in the family enjoy better wages andmore education. Our findings are the first to suggest that advantages of earlier-bornsiblings start very early in life. We observe parents changing their behaviour as newchildren are born, and offering less cognitive stimulation to children of higher birth order.

Ana Nuevo-Chiquero

Focus Paper 21

Transparency in Procurement: The design and use of information in trading mechanisms

The research is motivated by the need to reduce the public deficit through efficiency savings in procurement for large public institutions such as the NHS. The project's immediate objective is to increase the stock of theoretical knowledge about procurement mechanisms with the aim of producing insights that would be directly applicable in real procurement processes.

József Sákovics

Focus Paper 20

Higher income volatility hits American families’ wellbeing: Evidence from three decades to 2008

This study shows how higher income instability for many families, combined within adequate access to credit, led to larger unplanned changes in family consumption. Increasingly large fluctuations in many American households’ incomes over the 30-year period up to the Great Recession led to a fall in overall family wellbeing.

Olga Gorbachev

Focus Paper 19

Friends Without Benefits? New EMU Members and the “Euro Effect” on Trade

Increased trade integration is considered one of the economic benefits of joining European Monetary Union (EMU). The analysis of trade effects of currency unions peaked around the time of the introduction of the euro in the early 2000s. For this reason, we re-visited the evidence on the effect of the euro on trade, focusing on countries which joined the currency area in recent years. While there may an array of benefits stemming from Eurozone membership, our findings suggest that Eurozone accession is not likely to bring about a significant trade boost.

Robert Zymek & Alina Mika

Focus Paper 18

Economic Democracy

‘Workers’ cooperatives are at least as productive as their capitalist counterparts, and yet they account for a relatively small proportion of GDP in most countries. Donald A R George describes research which aims to explain this paucity of workers’ cooperatives by reference to their financing and property rights structures.

Donald A R George

Focus Paper 17

Information Design

In many economic and social settings one person or institution is in charge of communicating with and disclosing information to multiple agents who are engaged in a strategic interaction. This communication takes the form of information provision about an issue or an object of common interest - the fundamental - which impacts the payoffs of the interaction.

Ina Taneva

Focus Paper 16

The Illusion of Choice: Evidence from Barcelona

In the last two decades, over two-thirds of OECD countries have augmented families’ capacity to choose schools for their children beyond those closest to their homes (Musset, 2012). The aims of school choice are to improve (1) the matching between children and schools and (2) students’ educational outcomes. At the same time, (3) there are equity concerns around school choice as maybe disadvantaged families are less able to exercise choice. Calsamiglia and Güell exploit a very rich administrative data set that contains all primary school applications in the city of Barcelona.

Maia Güell

Focus Paper 15

Economic Consequences of the Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution is a watershed moment in 20th-century Chinese history. Spanning a decade from 1966 to 1976, it constitutes the final years of Mao Zedong’s chairmanship, and shortly precedes the country’s economic liberalization. Intended as a campaign to consolidate the communist revolution of 1949 by “cleansing the class ranks” of “bourgeois elements,” its accompanying violence and chaos is widely believed to have had a major impact on Chinese society. Dr Bai's research project explores the economic consequences of this period, focusing on the rural experience.

Liang Bai

Focus Paper 14

An Equilibrium Model of the African HIV-AIDS Epidemic

How can we accurately model the African HIV/AIDS epidemic? This paper presents new research that uses computational general equilibrium models to map the spread of HIV/AIDS. Emphasising the importance of understanding behavioural adjustments and equilibrium effects, this new way of modelling the epidemic may well prove a useful tool for further research.

Philipp Kircher

Focus Paper 13

Understanding Cyclical Behaviour in Strategic Situations

Results in learning theory show that in many games adaptive learning converges to Nash equilibrium, the type of equilibrium most commonly used in studying strategic situations. However, there is a dark side, rarely acknowledged, to the theory. In some other games learning never converges but rather continues to cycle.

Ed Hopkins

Focus Paper 12

Designing and interpreting customer reviews

This papers considers if we can take online customer reviews or responses in social surveys at face value? If not, how should we “decode” them? How can questionnaires be designed to encourage effective communication when many people send information at the same time?

Kohei Kawamura

Focus Paper 11

Development Accounting with Intermediate Goods

In this Focus Paper a diagnostic tool called 'development accounting' is described which is useful, for example, when considering barriers to international trade in intermediate inputs; poor contract enforcement between buyers and suppliers of intermediates; inefficiencies in publicly provided intermediates such as energy or transportation.

Jan Grobovšek

Focus Paper 10

'Who is the fairest of them all?'

A paper which explains facial symmetry, body shapes and attractiveness in the context of behaviour and the effects of cooperation.

Santiago Sánchez-Pagés

Focus Paper 9

The importance 'to eat your greens'

Michèle Belot (University of Edinburgh), Jonathan James (University of Bath) and Patrick Nolen (University of Essex) carried out a randomised controlled field experiment to test whether providing short term incentives for eating fruit and vegetables increases consumption and helps develop healthier habits.

Michèle Belot

Focus Paper 8

Sovereign Default and International Trade

Robert Zymek provides an explanation for an empirical finding of why countries which default on their foreign debt tend to experience a decline in their trade with the rest of the world.

Robert Zymek

Focus Paper 7

The Theory of Planning a Successful Economic Recovery

A model based on two key concepts: the risk dominance criterion and the belief constraint.

József Sákovics

Jakub Steiner

Focus Paper 6

Intergenerational mobility and the informational content of surnames

Research that presents a novel and workable method of measuring intergenerational mobility which escapes from the slavery of panel data.

Maia Güell

José V. Rodríguez Mora

Focus Paper 5

Volatility of Housing

A project which considers the development of a theoretical framework where homelessness arises due to various economic and social factors that vary over time.

Olga Gorbachev

Focus Paper 4

Cohort Effects

An overview of the 2008-2011 ESRC funded project “Cohort effects within firms, and their implications for labour market outcomes and the business cycle”.

Jonathan Thomas

Focus Paper 3

Contractual Incompleteness

John Hardman Moore outlines his joint research with Oliver Hart, looking at the economics of power and control and the foundations of contractual incompleteness.

John Hardman Moore

Focus Paper 2

Money and Liquidity

John Hardman Moore outlines his joint research with Nobu Kiyotaki on the macroeconomic questions to do with the nature of money and liquidity, and the interplay between the financial system and the aggregate economy.

John Hardman Moore

Focus Paper 1