Monthly Archives: March 2017

New doctoral scholarship

The School of Economics is pleased to be able to offer one additional doctoral scholarship for 2017 entry for a specific project on ‘The Role of Social Networks in Sanitation Decisions in Developing Countries’.  The scholarship will be in the form of a Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship with additional School of Economics funding.

Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarships

In standard form, these are scholarships funded by the University over a three year period. However, in order to attract the very best research students, the School of Economics has agreed to continue this funding for the additional fourth year of our research programme. Successful candidates will be awarded an annual tuition fee waiver (at the Home/EU rate) and a competitive maintenance stipend of £14,296 per annum (2016/17 rate).

The Scholarship is offered in the form of a Graduate Teaching Assistantship, whereby PhD students receive financial support in return for a limited amount of teaching (up to six hours per week) across the Autumn and Spring terms.

Project description

‘The Role of Social Networks in Sanitation Decisions in Developing Countries’

The lack of adequate safe sanitation remains an important issue in rural areas of developing countries. It is a particularly pressing issue in India, which accounts for about half of the 1.1 billion people worldwide that defecate in the open. Sanitation policy across many developing countries is centred around encouraging households and local communities to build and use toilets, making it crucial to understand the factors that influence household decisions. Social networks might play an important role in this decision. In rural areas, where formal markets are often unavailable, social connections such as family, friends and neighbours have been shown to be important sources of information, and resources. Moreover, they may play an important role in enforcing social norms.

Despite this, few studies to date have investigated whether and how social networks influence household decisions to build and use toilets. This project will use rich primary micro-data collected within a cluster randomized control trial (RCT) in rural India to shed light on:

  1. Whether and how social networks influence households’ sanitation adoption decisions in rural areas of developing countries; and
  2. How social networks influence the effectiveness of sanitation interventions.

The RCT studies the effectiveness of two interventions to improve safe sanitation uptake – access to micro-credit for sanitation; and the combination of sanitation credit and awareness creation. The data includes detailed information on social connections between households along 3 dimensions — sub-caste, neighbours and loan group membership – as well as on socio-economic variables such as consumption, labour supply, women’s empowerment, and so on. The data offers potential for the PhD student to develop and pursue their own related research questions.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Bansi Malde and Zaki Wahhaj. They will be enrolled on our four year economics PhD programme which provides comprehensive training in microeconomic theory and micro-econometrics. Also, the data to be used in this project was collected in collaboration with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the successful candidate will have the opportunity to visit the IFS and benefit from its research environment.

Scholarship criteria

  • Successful candidates will demonstrate academic excellence and outstanding research potential, and will have obtained a good undergraduate honours degree (a First or good 2i), and ordinarily a Masters degree with Merit or Distinction.
  • The scholarship competition is open to all new postgraduate research applicants (current Kent research students are not eligible for these scholarships). This project will appeal to a student interested in applied microeconomics and development economics.
  • UK, EU and overseas fee paying students are invited to apply. Please note that overseas students must have the appropriate documentation to evidence eligibility to work in the UK. Further information can be found at:

How to apply

To apply for this doctoral scholarship you need to do two things:

  1. Submit a formal application to study for a PhD in Economics or Agri-Environmental Economics – apply online here. Please ensure that you include:
  • at least two academic references – these must come from a professional/institutional email address (not a gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo account), or be uploaded as a signed document, either on headed paper or validated with the university stamp)
  • a detailed research proposal
  • transcripts of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees
  • your CV

2.  Complete a short application form.

Closing date and interviews

The closing date for applications is 19 April 2017 and candidate Skype interviews will be held on 21 April 2017.

Further information

If you have any queries about our scholarships, please contact Katy Wade at the School of Economics.


How cybercriminals could demand better ransoms

‘You’ve infected a computer, locked it down and demanded a ransom. Congratulations, you’re a cybercriminal. The bad news is that you’re doing a terrible job of maximizing profits.

Ransomware was an estimated $1 billion-per-year industry as of 2016, but new research from computing and economics academics at the University of Kent shows that the ‘unsophisticated’ techniques of ransomware criminals could easily be refined and ‘could lead to dramatic increases in profits at relatively little cost.”

This is an excerpt from an article published in Cyberscoop on research by Kent’s School of Computing and Dr Edward Cartwright and Dr Anna Stepanova of the School of Economics.

Read the full article here:


Press coverage generated by this article:

Interview for SC Media UK:


Dr Christian Siegel

Female relative wages, household specialization and fertility

Falling fertility rates have often been linked to rising female wages. However, over the last 40 years the US total fertility rate has been rather stable while female wages have continued to grow. Over the same period, women’s hours spent on housework have declined, but men’s have increased.

This is the abstract from a paper by Dr Christian Siegel that was published in the Review of Economics Dynamics in March 2017.

Christian proposes a model in which households are not perfectly specialized, but both men and women contribute to home production. As the gender wage gap narrows, the time allocations of men and women converge, and while fertility falls at first, the decline stops when female wages are close to those of males.

Rising relative wages increase women’s labour supply and due to higher opportunity cost lower fertility at first, but they also lead to a reallocation of home production and child care from women to men, and a marketization.

He finds that both are important in understanding why fertility did not decline further. In a further quantitative exercise he shows that the model performs well in matching fertility over the entire 20th century, including the overall decline, the baby boom, and the recent stabilization.

Read the full paper here:

Economics of Development

The 10th edition of Professor Tony Thirlwall’s textbook, Economics of Development: Theory and Empirics, now co-authored with Dr Penélope Pacheco-López, is published this month by Palgrave-Macmillan Press. The first edition of the book, which was entitled Growth and Development: with Special Reference to Developing Countries, was published in 1972 based on Tony’s lectures to undergraduate and graduate students. It is used widely across the world, particularly in India, and there are Greek and Chinese translations of previous editions.

The 10th edition has an important new chapter on Human Capital: education; the role of women in the development process, nutrition and health. The chapter on Development and the Environment, originally written by John Peirson, has been substantially revised by Iain Fraser.

The book is available to purchase from Palgrave:

Plus there’s a companion website that provides teaching and learning resources and further information about the authors.

“Economics of Development is by far the best undergraduate textbook in development economics (…) an essential reference for students and scholars alike.”

Kunal Sen University of Manchester


Economics student reps win volunteering award

The School of Economics Student Representatives have won a Kent Student Certificate of Volunteering (KSCV) by earning the greatest number of KSCV awards for hours volunteered over any other School at Kent.

The reps were presented with an array of prizes, which included the chance to design and name menu items at some of Kent’s many catering outlets: a burger at Woody’s, a cocktail at The Venue and a hot drink at the Library Café, plus they got a share of the profits from their new products.

Student reps are elected by the student body and volunteer their time to represent their fellow students—often this involves passing on feedback to the School and raising issues relating to their courses. They attend the Student-Staff Liaison Committee, which acts as a forum to discuss issues raised by students and for the School to communicate its response to feedback. It also gives Economics staff the opportunity to hear student reaction to any proposed teaching or learning initiatives.

This year, our reps have also given their time to meet with applicants and their parents at our UCAS applicant days. We have had some great feedback from our visitors and are very grateful to the reps for all their help.

Many congratulations on behalf of the School to all our reps and thank you for all your hard work and dedication this year.

Alumni networking evening

Alumni Networking Evening

The School ran its third annual Alumni Networking Evening on Tuesday 14 March at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

The event was well attended by our current undergraduate and postgraduate students, who had the opportunity to meet some recent Kent Economics alumni to discuss work and life after university.

We would like to say a huge thank you to our alumni for giving up their time to attend; Ashley Diggins from the Cabinet Office, Luke Bewley from Certua, James Warren from NIESR, Alex Waters from Capital Generation Partners, Daniel Owusu Acheampong from the Department for International Development, Damilola Adewuyi from EY, Nuno Nunes from HSBC, Cormac Shine from the Department of Work and Pensions and Iria Camba Florez who is currently studying at LSE.

If any alumni are interested in taking part in similar events, please email

Dr Keisuke Otsu

Regional business cycle and growth features of Japan

by Masaru Inaba and Keisuke Otsu, discussion paper KDPE 1705, March 2017.

Non-technical summary

The objective of this paper is to construct a dataset of Japanese prefecture level production, income and expenditure data and analyze the Japanese regional growth and business cycle features. The 47 prefectures are analyzed individually and also as 10 regional groups; Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa.

Our dataset is based on the System of National Accounts (SNA) from the Cabinet Office Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). From expenditure data, we construct series of the prefectural per capita GDP, private consumption, private investment, government consumption and government investment in 2000 yen over the 1955-2008 period. From income data we construct series of the prefectural labor income share and depreciation rate over the 1975-2008 period. We construct the prefectural net capital stock series over the 1975-2008 period in 2000 yen from the ESRI Prefecture Private Capital Stock data and Private and Public Sector Balance Sheet data along with the SNA data on investment and depreciation. We construct the prefectural total hours worked series over the 1975-2008 period from the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) R-JIP database and the SNA employment data. Finally, we construct the prefectural total factor productivity (TFP) series from the prefectural output, net capital stock and total hours worked series along with the average prefectural labor share.

In terms of regional growth, we find that over the 1955-2008 period, the Tohoku region and Okinawa region, which had the lowest average income per capita, experienced the highest growth. This is evidence of regional convergence in which poor regions grow faster than rich regions so that the income levels of all regions converge to similar levels over time. We formally test this using the framework introduced by Barro (1991) and find that convergence exists in the prefecture level in Japan over the 1955-2008 period. The convergence during the post oil-shock period 1975-2008 is less obvious but we still find regional convergence after controlling for prefectural characteristics such as TFP level gaps, population growth rates, private investment rates and TFP growth rates.

In terms of business cycles, we focus on the post oil-shock period 1975-2008 and find that the bilateral correlation of per capita output is negatively affected by the distance and the similarity of industrial structure and positively affected by the size of the total output of the pair. We further document that the bilateral correlation of output is higher than that of consumption in 847 out of the total 1081 pairs. This phenomenon frequently documented in open economy macroeconomic literature is puzzling since prefectures should want to smooth their consumption path against income shocks through borrowing and lending among each other. We decompose the consumption risk sharing into 3 steps: i) the net factor payments across prefectures capturing the income risk sharing through the capital market, ii) the government transfer across prefectures capturing the income risk sharing at the personal disposable income level, and iii) the consumption risk sharing of households through the financial market. The results show that the highest contributor to consumption risk-sharing is the government transfer which implies that financial market imperfection might be contributing to the low cross-prefecture correlation of consumption.

You can download the complete paper here.



Dr Zaki Wahhaj

Bangladesh’s new child marriage law swings in the wrong direction

A report by the School’s Dr Zaki Wahhaj and Dr M Niaz Asadullah from the University of Malaya has been published in The Conversation on Bangladesh’s new child marriage law.

“According to UNICEF, Bangladesh has the highest rate of marriage in the world among girls under 15. And it is ranked eighth in terms of marriage under the age of 18.”

Read the full article here:

Prof Tony Thirlwall

Why does the productivity of investment vary across countries?

by Kevin S. Nell and A. P. Thirlwall, discussion paper KDPE 1703, March 2017.

Non-technical summary

‘New’ (endogenous) growth theory seeks to explain growth rate differences between countries outside the confines of orthodox neoclassical growth theory, but also to rehabilitate the neoclassical model with diminishing returns to capital by introducing other variables into the equations to explain why there has not been unconditional convergence of per capita incomes across the world as predicted by the basic neoclassical (Solow) growth model.

It is argued that because output growth is by definition equal to a country’s ratio of investment to GDP times the productivity of investment, if the investment ratio is included in a new growth theory equation, all that new growth theory is doing is testing for why the productivity of investment differs between countries. But the productivity of investment is never treated as the dependent variable. It is easy to do so, however, by dividing the whole equation by the investment ratio. This has the added advantage of being able to test directly the hypothesis that the productivity of investment falls as investment rises and as countries get richer (the neoclassical assumption of diminishing returns to capital), without relying on the sign on the initial per capita income variable, a negative sign on which could be the result of catch-up or faster structural change in poor countries than rich and not diminishing returns. The model is tested using the general-to-specific model selection algorithm, Autometrics, taking a sample of 84 countries over the period 1980-2011 and 19 different independent variables that have been highlighted in the growth literature.  Nine of the independent variables turn out to be significant, the most important of which turn out to be export growth; education; latitude, and political rights. There is no evidence of diminishing returns to capital i.e. that the productivity of investment in rich countries is lower than in poor countries.

You can download the complete paper here.