Applied Economics and Marketing Group

Development Finance at the University of Reading

 

Our Research

Agricultural, food, environmental, and ecological economics

Our research in food economics focuses on the analysis of diet and health policy. Econometric models of food demand are at the core of this work which analyses the economic, social and demographic determinants of diet. These models have formed the basis of analyses of interventions such as a tax on saturated fat and healthy eating promotions. Our work is increasingly interdisciplinary across economics and psychology.

Our environmental, ecological and resource economists explore the intersection of people and the natural environment, addressing issues such as the links between household decision making over energy choices and rural forest degradation. Many of the methods that we use derive from behavioural economics; experimental methods; and spatial-temporal ecological-economic modelling. However, we also incorporate a variety of cross-disciplinary qualitative and quantitative anthropological and social science methods, such as when addressing how social and cultural configurations of rural populations and inhabitants of forests interact with the advancing agrarian frontiers where ecosystems are often fragile and complex.

We are at the forefront of exploring how non-market valuation can be used to analyse the value of goods and services that do not have observable prices because they are not traded on markets, or that have prices that are distorted due to market failure, such as is often the case for ecosystem services. The quantification of values for non-market goods is particularly important for sound economic policy making.

Other important areas of our research include the analysis of the impact of agri-environment and rural development schemes on the food chain; and the assessment of the impact of changes in the structure of farming and the food industry on food production and the countryside. We explore and analyse a broad range of themes including climate and developments in European Agricultural Policy, most notably the common agricultural policy, and their effect on food producers and the wider rural community.

 

Marketing and consumer behaviour

Research in food economics focuses on the analysis of diet and health policy. Econometric models of food demand are at the core of this work which analyses the economic, social and demographic determinants of diet. These models have formed the basis of analyses of interventions such as a tax on saturated fat and healthy eating promotions. Our work is increasingly interdisciplinary across economics and psychology.

Our research into consumer behaviour and marketing examines diverse issues relevant to both government policy and corporate decision making. Often drawing on behavioural economics, and using a range of analytical approaches, our research addresses a diversity of contemporary topics such as consumer attitudes and acceptance/rejection of GM foods, socio-psychological and cultural underpinnings of fashion consumption, portfolio advertising and corporate social responsibility, and to what extent household energy use is motivated by climate change and energy policy agendas.

 

Economics and policies of animal health and welfare

Our animal health economics focuses on the costs and benefits of livestock disease control measures involving inter-disciplinary approaches such as modelling how disease and intervention measures impact on livestock production systems. It also takes into account 'One Health' and the inter-relations between animal health, human health and ecosystem health. The economics of animal welfare has focused largely on animal welfare policy and policy appraisal, particularly the costs and benefits associated with animal welfare improvement. It also takes into account philosophical considerations such as the concepts of animals having 'a life worth living' or a 'good life'

 

Farm business management, farmer behaviour, and land use modelling

Our research into farm businesses and their management explores the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable farming systems linked to the major research themes of the University on food security, climate change and diet and health. More specifically, the areas of research that staff engage in include:

  • Impacts of, and response to, policy and market change
  • Metrics at the farm level: farm technical efficiency
  • Impacts and management of livestock disease
  • Crops and genetic modification
  • Biofuels and renewable energy
  • The environmental sustainability of farming systems
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Agriculture and forestry's link with the rural economy

Understanding the behaviour and motives of those who manage land is vital due to competing and often conflicting uses. For example, most empirical studies suggest that profit maximisation is not a universally valid assumption. Land managers fall into distinctive behavioural types, with each type motivated by a variety of values, and having discernibly distinct orders of priorities. Our research into farmer behaviour includes farm extension and knowledge transfer; understanding behaviours towards the adoption of livestock technologies; farmers' experiences with diversified activities; and how land management strategies of farmers affect the biodiversity of the countryside.

Our research on farm-level modelling has a focus on optimising resource use, whilst also enhancing understanding of farmer decision-making and business diversification. Additionally, sector-level modelling currently provides insight into policy and market development options, land use change and food supply. Our mapping of food chains has increased understanding of segmentation, institutional function and behaviour.

Things to do now

  • Find out about research in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
  • Find out more about the School

Discuss our research

Professor Eleanor Fisher

Dr Henny Osbahr

HR Excellence in Research

The University holds the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research Award. Follow the link below for more information

 

HR Excellence in Research

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