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.