News and events
See the latest news and events from the Department of Economics
2018/19 Seminar Series
We are running two seminar series through this year. Please look at the schedules and join us.
NAME THE SPEIR MASCOT
SPEIR has a new mascot and we want YOU to help us choose the perfect name!
It is time to name The School of Politics, Economics and International Relations' wonderful new mascot. Staff and students from across the School have submitted names, now you can vote for which one is best out of our favourites! Vote by going to twitter and taking part in our poll.
Thanks so much to everyone who submitted names for the competition. Narrowing it down to just four to vote on was very difficult and we are grateful to everyone who took part. Now get voting! The winning name and who suggested it will be revealed on Thursday 27 March.
If you would like a mascot bear of your own just go to our store: https://store.rdg.ac/SPEIRMascotBear
NEWS: International Women's Day
08/03/2019 - For International Women's Day we wanted thank all the women in our Department. The Department of Economics at the University of Reading is more than 50% women, with many academics focusing on gender specifically. We are always working to make sure we have the best space we can for women to develop and show their skills. The Head of the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations is a female Economist, Professor Uma Kambhampati. Her latest publication, written with Dr Neha Hui, Stigma and Labour Market Outcomes: Sex Work and Domestic Work in India absolutely relates to the issues that IWD is all about.
If you want to find out more about what it is like for women working in Economics, make sure to listen to St Lewis Fed's Women in Economics podcast series.
News: Congratulations to our winter 2018 graduates
13/12/2018 - The Department closed out 2018 with our Winter Graduation Drinks Reception and Prize Giving. It was wonderful to see our new graduates and celebrate with them.
Congratulations to all our new graduates, and to our prize winners:
- Michael Landon - Department Prize for Academic Excellence for Best Overall Academic Performance
- Chloe Parkins - Department Prize for Academic Excellence for Best Dissertation
- Chloe Butcher - Prize for Academic Excellence for Best Academic Performance in the Masters in Public Policy
News: Carl Singleton Article Published in Economics Letters
04/12/2018 - Carl Singleton has recently had a short journal article published in Economics Letters (Forthcoming, January 2019). The title of the paper is "The public-private sector wage differential in the UK: Evidence from longitudinal employer-employee data". A link to the paper is here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2018.11.005
If fiscal policy exerts pressure on public services, then attention often falls on the public-private sector wage differential. Estimated with longitudinal employer-employee data for the years 2002-2016 in the United Kingdom, among men there was no significant public sector wage premium. However, women received an average 4% premium compared with working in private sector firms.
•Gender-specific AKM-type wage equations are estimated for the UK.
•The measured public sector wage premium is biased if firm effects are not estimated.
•The estimated public sector premium was generally small for both men and women.
NEWS: Paper from Steven Bosworth Published in Theory and Decision
29/11/2018 - Steven Bosworth has had a paper accepted by Theory and Decision, entitled "Motives and comprehension in a public goods game with induced emotions".
Abstract: This study analyses the sensitivity of public goods contributions through the lens of psychological motives. We report the results of a public goods experiment in which subjects were induced with the motives of care and anger through autobiographical recall. Subjects' preferences, beliefs, and perceptions under each motive are compared with those of subjects experiencing a neutral autobiographical recall control condition. We find, but only for those subjects with the highest comprehension of the game, that care elicits significantly higher contributions than anger, with the control treatment in between. This positive influence of the care motive on unconditional giving is accounted for partly by preferences for giving and partly by beliefs concerning greater contributions by others. Anger also affects attention to own and other's payoffs (measured by mouse tracking) and perceptions of the game's incentive structure (cooperative or competitive).
NEWS: New Paper from Shixuan Wang in Energy Economics
27/11/2018 - A new paper by Shixuan Wang has been pubished in Energy Economics, entitled "Decoding the Australian electricity market: New evidence from three-regime hidden semi-Markov model".
Abstract: The hidden semi-Markov model (HSMM) is more flexible than the hidden Markov model (HMM). As an extension of the HMM, the sojourn time distribution in the HSMM can be explicitly specified by any distribution, either nonparametric or parametric, facilitating the modelling for the stylised features of electricity prices, such as the short-lived spike and the time-varying mean. By using a three-regime HSMM, this paper investigates the hidden regimes in five Australian States (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania), spanning the period from June 8, 2008 to July 3, 2016. Based on the estimation results, we find evidence that the three hidden regimes correspond to a low-price regime, a high-price regime, and a spike regime. Running the decoding algorithm, the analysis systemically finds the timing of the three regimes, and thus, we link the empirical results to the policy changes in the Australian National Electricity Market. We further discuss the contributing factors for the different characteristics of the Australian electricity markets at the state-level.
Event: Examining the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
Dr Stefania Lovo with Mr Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, and Ms Elitsa Garnizova (three authors of the Sustainability Impact Assessment of the EU-Japan EPA) - will be speaking at an event on 21st November, taking a closer look into the social and environmental commitments of the agreement. They will address questions on how the EPA can impact social and environmental protection in the EU and Japan. The event, hosted by MEP Pedro Silva Pereira and MEP David Martin, will be held between 13.30 and 15.00 on 21 November 2018 in the European Parliament Library.
The European Parliament will soon face a crucial decision on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This EPA, signed on 17 July 2018, is the largest free-trade agreement signed by Japan and the EU, encompassing 640 million people and 28% of the world's GDP. The agreement is a significant achievement in the liberalisation of market access, the crafting of international rules and the breadth of commitments vis-à-vis sustainability issues.
Congratulations to Our 2018 Graduates and Prize winners
On July 5th we had a drinks reception to celebrate our graduates and present prizes to students who had particularly excelled over their time with us. For the full list of winners go to our Graduation 2018 page.
Reading Experimental and Behavioural Economics Workshop
The Behavioural Economics Research Group in the Department of Economics recently hosted the Reading Experimental and Behavioural Economics Workshop (REBEW) on 12 June. Drs. Joo Young Jeon, Stefania Lovo, and Steven Bosworth, lecturers in the department, organised the one-day event. The workshop featured a number of talks from researchers both at the University of Reading and beyond, including keynote talks from Profs. Philip Grossman of Monash university and Sarah Smith of the University of Bristol.
Student research fellowship programme
The Department is launching the Student Research Fellowship Programme, for students who are completing their Part 2 studies this year and will be in Part 3 in the 2018-19 academic year. If you are interested in developing your research skills, including research communication and management, this might be the right programme for you.
Dr Sarah Jewell and Dr Simonetta Longhi are surveying finalists at the University of Reading about their job search, preferences and attitudes prior to graduation to understand how this will link this to future labour market outcomes. The project has been awarded University funding under the UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme).
Part 2 students interested in helping with the data preparation for this project are encouraged to apply by 29 March 2018.
Dr Stefania Lovo, along with Dr Andi Nygaard (now at Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia) are going to be at NUIST in Nanjing (China) with three Reading Students: Ghanima Almutawa, Alicia Harding and Meera Parmar. They will be there for a two-week teaching and exchange experience. Here is a picture of them in front of the Reading Academy.
how economists use twitter, by marina della giusta
The fifa world cup and economics
The quadrennial feast of football that is the Fifa World Cup of football happens this summer. Sport, and football in particular, offers a great opportunity for economists. It's so well recorded, data is in abundance in inputs and outcomes, the rules are well known, as indeed are changes to them. Over the years many economists have made use of this, and a significant number are coming to Reading in June to present their work. With the generous support of the Centre for Institutions and Economic History, the World Cup Workshop takes place on 14 June 2018, the opening day of the World Cup. Stefan Szymanski, Adrian Bell, Alex Bryson, Tunde Buraimo, and Bernd Frick will all present their recent research using data from the sport of football, and the one-day conference will conclude at 4pm to watch the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The economic (and) history of sport conference
Sport seems to have always been with us, but is that really the case? Economics and history facilitate the study of organised sport, and its development over the last century and more. With the generous support of the Centre for Institutions and Economic History, the Economic (and) History of Sport Workshop is taking place on 13 June 2018 at the University of Reading, one day prior to the World Cup Workshop. Leading economic historian Wray Vamplew is giving the keynote talk, and Stefan Szymanski, Dilwyn Porter, Rob Simmons and Raf Nicholson will also be presenting.
economics of sports students visit rfc
On January 19 33 Economics of Sport students visited the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading Football Club, for a field trip (excuse the pun). We had a talk in the Directors Lounge from Nigel Howe, the CEO of Reading FC from 1995 to 2017, a period covering much of the transformation of the club into its current existence, in a £50m purpose built stadium, and in the upper echelons of English football.
He is now the Vice Chairman, and he gave a fascinating talk about the nature of football from a business perspective - the development of youth players via academies, the role of broadcasting money on the game, and the globalisation of the Premier League.
After a Q&A session, we then had a tour of the stadium, beginning from the director's lounge to the players' lounge, both dressing rooms and finishing on the field. Overall, an absorbing insight into the nature of the game of football from an economic, and indeed social and psychological perspective.
old men running...
Dr James Reade and Dr Simon Burke both ran the Woodcote 10k on Sunday 14th Jan, the "tough one" according to local organisers. Here's photographic evidence!
In seven weeks (March 4, end of week 8) they are running the Goring 10k - which is accessible by train from Reading, see http://www.goring10k.com/. They'd like to challenge all the spritely young runners studying economics to run in that race! James is also then running the Reading Half on March 18 (end of week 10), which passes through the university campus.
graduation december 2017
Many congratulations to all of our BSc and MA students who graduated this December! Good luck with whatever the future holds for you - we wish you every success!
Special congratulations go to our Department Prizewinners: Fari Aftab - Best Dissertation, Jacob Kenny - Best MPP student and Megan Sullivan - Best Overall Academic Performance.
brexit and big social data
Brexit continues to dominate public discourses, the news and our lives, and yet the majority of us, regardless of how we voted in the referendum, still struggle with the complexity of the issues involved in leaving the EU, and do not have a clear understanding of the consequences. Is it because government, the press and the experts have not done a good job informing us? Or is it that we do not trust them, and prefer to base our decisions on other sources of information?
Click here to read the report of the workshop on 1st December.
housing for older people
On 20th November Professor Geoff Meen was invited to give oral evidence to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee. The Committee is investigating housing for older people and, in particular, whether this group is "over-consuming" housing to the detriment of younger households who are facing serious housing shortages. On official measures based on a bedroom standard, approximately 70% of the over-60s are "over-consuming". However, these figures are misleading and the fact that many older owner-occupiers are living in large homes simply reflects that most have already paid off their mortgages and have adequate incomes. Therefore, there is no reason for them to downsize unless there are physical reasons for them to do so. It is unsurprising that many choose to remain in the family home for as long as possible. Full details of the evidence session can be found at:
freight transport history workshop
Freight Transport History Workshop
By Fabian Hiscock
The University hosted, in conjunction with the Railway and Canal Historical Society, a small day-long workshop on the history of Freight Transport on 24th Nov. Led by Professor Mark Casson, it was mainly aimed at UK travel systems, but there were papers covering European waterways and the development of the distribution system for the Danish Co-Op just to keep the picture broad.
Railway, road and waterway freight transport featured equally. The debunking of the myth that Army Surplus lorries generated the post-WW1 boom in road transport was especially well received, but there was also plenty of time to look at cranes, competition affecting the Shropshire Union Canal Company, goods moving between the steelworks and factories of Sheffield, the logistics of brewing before the WW1 and the highly successful computerised management of British Railways' freight business between 1950 and 1990.
In summing up the day, which had been intended to bring together the academic and the non-academic enthusiast for transport history, Mark Casson observed that about the only mode not to feature at all was the air, although sea traffic hadn't been prominent. Reflecting on several of the papers, and wondering if the railways had always had a problem with customer satisfaction, he encouraged the speakers to finish off what was clearly in many cases work coming to completion. It was clear to everyone that the event had been a successful 'first', and another in the same style will be considered.
2nd European Workshop on political macroeconomics (ewpm)
On behalf of the EARG and SPEIR, Dr Alexander Mihailov organised and hosted the second European Workshop on Political Macroeconomics (EWPM) on 9-11 October 2017 at Park House on our Whiteknights campus. According to the feedback from our guests, the event was very successful and enjoyable.
Please click here for the full report.
UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE)
The Economics Department, the School of Real Estate and Planning and the School of Architecture are members of a new housing research centre funded by the ESRC, AHRC and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) is directed from Glasgow University, but consists of a network of universities from across the country. The picture shows members of the network at the first meeting of CaCHE held in Glasgow in September. The Department's representative, Prof. Geoff Meen, is in the second row from the back.
Housing has long been an area of research strength in the Department and an initiative is currently on-going to integrate more fully inter-disciplinary housing research across the University. In policy terms, these are important times in housing with a White Paper published by the Government earlier this year and a forthcoming Green Paper. CaCHE and Reading are heavily involved with research to aid government policy.
ASGS Conference - 6th October 2017
Dr Marina Della Giusta will be speaking at the Association of State Girl's Schools' Annual Conference. Please click here for info on how to book your place.
Congratulations to Dr. Mark Shanahan and Dr. Simonetta Longhi who have both been awarded the Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy of the UK.
European Association of Labour Economists (EALE)
Dr Simonetta Longhi presented her paper 'The Role of Location in the Estimation of Ethnic Wage Differentials' at the conference of the European Association of Labour Economists (EALE) 21-23 September. The conference brings together researchers working on topic related to the labour market http://www.eale.nl/29th-eale-conference-st-gallen/).
Dr Marina Della Giusta and Dr Sarah Jewell also did poster presentations at EALE.
Marina Della Giusta, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom ; Sarah Jewell, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom ; Danica Vukadinovic- Greetham, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Sarah Jewell, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom ; Pantelis Kazakis, University of Economics Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
Understanding Society conference and ARC Discovery Project
This summer, Dr Simonetta Longhi presented a paper at the Understanding Society conference 11-13 July, along with Dr Vivien Burrows (see below). The paper was entitled 'Is Unemployment of Ethnic Minorities the Result of Occupational Segregation?'.
Dr Sarah Jewell also attended two days of a four day research workshop at the University of Venice for an ARC (Australian Research Council) Discovery Project that she is involved in entitled 'So What do you Do?: tracking creative graduates in Australia and the UK' . Information about the project (she will be added soon to the list of investigators) can be found at: https://www.canberra.edu.au/research/faculty-research-centres/cccr/research-projects/so-what-do-you-do
urop and the big data group
Over the summer, a number of students worked with members of staff on the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme. These are opportunities for students to become involved with the research work that members of the department are involved with.
The Big Data Group (Giuseppe Di Fatta, James Reade, Sylvia Jaworska, Danica Vukadinovic-Greetham, Marina Della Giusta and Sarah Jewell) together with four UROP students (Holly Vincent and Nick Bolitho in Mathematics, Tirgram Sagomonian in Linguistics and Hamza Nadeem in Economics), have used a large Twitter dataset during the referendum campaign alongside publicly available data from social surveys to address a set of issues.
Please click here to read the full report.
josh summerfield - summer scholarship in china
Click here to read Josh's report.
Understanding Society Conference, University of Essex
In July, Dr Vivien Burrows presented her paper on 'Mortgage equity withdrawal, risk preferences and financial capability' at the Understanding Society Conference at the University of Essex www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/scientific-conference-2017. The three-day conference brought together researchers from universities, government departments, charities and other research institutions to discuss research findings based on longitudinal household panel surveys. Topics covered included health, education, employment, income and wealth, and ethnicity. Dr Burrows' research looked at how individuals' financial capability affects their borrowing behaviour, focusing on borrowing that is tied to the value of individuals' homes.
Dr James Reade - What has sport got to do with economics?
This summer I visited two places of great sporting and historical significance. The first, with UROP student Owen Gittings, was the MCC Archive at Lord's, the "home of cricket". The first cricket match at this iconic venue took place in 1787, and it is steeped in history. The second was the National Football Museum's Archive at Deepdale, Preston North End's football stadium. Preston were the invincibles in the early days of English football, and remain the only team to win the League Championship winning every single game in a season.
What have famous sporting venues, and historical archives, got to do with economics? Well, sport is leisure, and leisure is the counterpart to work, in the utility maximisation framework. It is also economic activity since many play sport professionally. Sport is central to the social fabric, and the development of sport appears to have mirrored the more general economic development, particularly of the UK.
Sport also offers a lot of data, and often, a lot of retained records. Numbers that interest economists. How many people went to watch a game, and how much did each of them pay? Have managerial decisions got better over the years? Are things measurably different now that players have more freedom of movement? Or should things go further? What can we learn about regional economic development by considering sport across the regions?
These are all questions I'm hoping to investigate in the coming months. If you're interested in helping me out with some research assistance, and have some spare time, please do get in touch with me at email@example.com
Niaz Asadullah - International policy commentary publications
Asadullah, M Niaz and Maliki (2017) "Bottling Indonesia's Gini". The Project Syndicate, 01 September.
Asadullah, M Niaz, Samia Huq, Kazi Mukitul Islam, and Zaki Wahhaj (2017) "Gender stereotypes in Bangladeshi School Textbooks" World Education Blog, Global Education Monitoring Report (GMR), UNESCO, 30 May.
2nd European Workshop on Political Macroeconomics (EWPM)
Dear colleagues and PhD students,
You are kindly invited to attend the 2nd European Workshop on Political Macroeconomics (EWPM), to be held at University of Reading on Monday-Tuesday, 9-10 October 2017.
The goal of the annual EWPM is to bring together economists with a strong interest in political economy and macroeconomics, creating a productive atmosphere and aiming to inform policymakers on topical macro-debates. It was initially intended as a small-scale and collaborative research event, but one that may grow over the years into a larger forum. The 1st EWPM was held in Mainz on 29-30 March 2016 and consisted of closed presentations followed by discussions. Different from the 1st EWPM in Mainz, the 2nd EWPM in Reading now opens up the attendance and discussions to a wider audience. And, since the EWPM is this year in the UK, we decided to convene a "topical panel" on Brexit. We also introduce a "special talk" on incorporating virtue ethics into social welfare functions of normative economics.
Colleagues and PhD students specialising at the intersection of macroeconomics and political economy - as well as (less so) in public policy - will find the workshop of immediate interest and use.
Attendance is free; to register, please use the following Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/2nd-european-workshop-on-political-macroeconomics-ewpm-2017-tickets-36538011175.
We look forward to seeing many of you at the 2nd EWPM!
child development and entrepreneurship experts elected to british academy
Read about Professor Mark Casson being named as a Fellow of the British Academy, the UK's national body for the humanities and social sciences here.
Congratulations to all of our students who graduated on 6th July 2017 - we are so proud of your achievements and are sure you will go on to achive many more great things!
Further congratulations to our 2017 Prizewinning students (l-r) Lena-Katharina Gerdes - Joint Degree Department Prize for Academic Excellence, Oscar Lomas - Joint Head of Department Prize for Academic Excellence, Cameron Smith - Department Prize for Academic Excellence - First Class Achiever, Emma Lobo - Department Prize for Academic Excellence - First Class Achiever, Helen Bonney - Peter Hart Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Department, Rheanna Norris - Peter Hart Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Department, Freddy Farias-Arias - Peter Hart Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Department, and Professor Giovanni Razzu.
research life in pictures - people's choice winner
Shamsa Al Sheibani, a PhD student in Economics, was the People's Choice winner for Research Life in Pictures at the recent Doctoral Research Conference. Shamsa presented a poster titled "Hanging wonders of Reading".
"In a world of grey be red, be Reading". This is the slogan of the University of Reading by which all students, faculty and other employees are inspired to aim for greater heights and towards excellence in academic and professional arenas. This image shows bright red cubes hanging in an innovative and beautiful way from the ceiling of a building in a world of grey, and so the doctoral life is a striking and magnificent experience which enables students to distinguish themselves from others through their new and genuine research that is worth reading and applicable to real life.
The hanging wonders of Reading are not mythical. They are real. They are you and me. They are Reading. Shamsa Al Sheibani.
Congratulations to Shamsa!
2017-18 Placement Students
We are delighted that 14 Economics students will be doing a one year placement in 2017/18. The Government Economic Service (GES) placement scheme has proved a popular choice again as Reading students return to the Office for National Statistics, HM Treasury, as well as a new GES destination, The Food Standards Agency.
Other Economics students have chosen a variety of placement roles at the following organisations: Bank of England, CSI Ltd, Intel, Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems (UK) Limited, Lloyds Bank and Travelport. Congratulations to all the students: Olivia Bald, Aidan Beresford, Chloe Felton, Roberto Marrocco, Sam Mernagh, Lloyd Phillips, Jimmy Philp, Fraser Ritchie, Rachel Strachan, James Wignall, Jake Wilson, Yunfei Zhu.
We look forward to welcoming you back to Reading in 2018.
Summer Research Internship
Congratulations to Michael Georgiev, who has been awarded a Summer Research Internship by the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations. Michael will work with Stefania Lovo from the Economics Department on a project to investigate the unintended effects of environmental regulation on firm performance. The quantitative project focuses on Indian firms and will investigate whether a 2006 reform of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure has raised entry barriers in certain states with consequent effects on incumbents' performance.
British Academy Post Doctoral Fellowship Award
Congratulations to Neha Hui (Ph.D. in Economics, 2017) who has been awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Neha will be working on 'Understanding Post Emancipation Indentured Labour Migration from the Indian Subcontinent to Trinidad'.
QS World University Rankings 2017
The QS World University Rankings 2017 by subject areas places the Department of Economics in the top 20 in the UK for Economics and Econometrics. The ranking is created by evaluating four parameters: academic reputation based on a survey of academics, reputation among employers (based on recruiter opinions), research citations per paper and the H-Index, which measures the prolificacy and impact of research publications.
"The new QS ranking represents an important recognition of the hard work that goes on in the Department and highlights the high calibre of the students and the placements that they find, as well as the result of our excellent teaching and research," says Giovanni Razzu, Head of the Department of Economics.
P&R Research Output Prize runner-up explains: Is your name holding you back from a life of riches?
From nine very strong outputs and strong competition, the paper "The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization" by Costanza Biavaschi (U Reading), Corrado Giulietti (University of Southampton) and Zahra Siddique (University of Reading) was awarded this year's P&R Research Output Prize runner-up.
Most Americans and Europeans have heard stories of ancestors migrating to the U.S. and Americanizing their names in the early 20th century, but what exactly was the extent of this phenomenon? What consequences did it have on migrants' economic success? In this paper the authors quantify for the first time the magnitude and consequences of name Americanization. Digging through thousands of 1920s naturalization papers from New York City, the authors find that more than 30% of European migrants abandoned foreign-sounding names to adopt a popular American name. This widespread practice paid off: migrants who Americanized their names achieved higher economic success than those who did not.
The selection panel was very impressed by the research, noting in particular the innovative data collection and statistical methods, but also that it addressed an important and timely topic, and the accessibility and clarity of the writing. Many congratulations to Costie and Zahra!
Along with Dr Sarah Jewell and Dr Marina Della Giusta, Dr James Reade has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) award. This means that in the summer they will be able to employ two undergraduate students in between their second and third years as research assistants on projects.
The project with Sarah is entitled "The Economics of Cricket and Football over the Centuries", and the project with Marina is entitled "The Economics of Board Games". Both will involve thinking creatively about applying economics into very interesting areas of life, and both will involve using data to draw more general conclusions about the way economic agents interact with each other.