Monthly Archives: May 2018

Cyber Security: How safe is your business?

The University of Kent’s School of Economics, School of Computing and Kent Business School, in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses, invites you to a Business Soundbites event titled Cyber Security: How safe is your business? on Thursday 7 June from 17:00 onwards.

Details and registration at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/kbs-business-soundbites-on-cyber-security-how-safe-is-your-business-tickets-44911684056

Cyber security is essential for organisations of all sizes. Government figures suggests that around half of all organisations suffer some form of cyber breach or attack in any one year. The consequences of this can be considerable, including significant financial costs and loss of customers.

Consistent evidence suggests, however, that many organisations are not treating cyber security as seriously as they should. This is a particular issue for SMEs, who are an attractive target for criminals, but may feel they lack the expertise and resource to implement an effective cyber-strategy. There are, though, simple, cheap and effective strategies that organisations can implement to reduce the potential damage from attack. There is also a range of support and advice from which organisations can benefit.

This event will inform and advise SMEs about cyber security. The event will cover:

  • Information on the most prevalent threats and trends in cyber security
  • How threats will likely evolve in the future.
  • Why cyber security matters to SMEs.
  • Actions that SMEs can take to mitigate threats and become more informed.
  • Actions that SMEs should take in the event of a cyber-attack.

The School of Economics and School of Computing are working together on an ESRC-funded project on cyber security and SMEs, and are keen to talk to SMEs about their experience in this field.

SMEs who are available to take part in a short survey on cyber security will receive a FREE cyber security healthcheck from the Kent IT Consultancy, the School of Computing’s student-staffed IT Consultancy. To register for the survey and consultancy, please contact the KITC via email: cyber@kitc-solutions.co.uk.

Dr Adelina Gschwandtner

University vice-chancellor pay, performance and (asymmetric) benchmarking

by Adelina Gschwandtner, University of Kent, and Richard McManus, Canterbury Christ Church University. Discussion paper KDPE 1807, May 2018.

Non-technical summary:

The pay of university vice-chancellors (VC) in the UK has caused a strong debate in the press recently leading to some VCs having to resign.

Academics protest that at a difficult time for UK academia caused by the insecurity faced in the outset of Brexit, the gap between VC and staff pay is increasing. Students claim that at a time when tuition fees are increasing and they are accumulating high levels of debt the increase in VC’s pay is unacceptable. Remuneration committees of universities however, argue that the increase is justified giving the VCs outstanding performance, especially during these turbulent
times.

The present study analyses the relationship between performance and pay using established econometric models and ample empirical evidence from UK academia. It uses a dataset consisting of 154 universities in the UK over a period of ten years and a comprehensive set of key performance indicators related to both student numbers and student evaluations of the university (league tables) as well as its research and funding performance.

The key result of the study is that even though there is a correlation between pay and performance it is not causal and therefore, a better performance of the VCs is not what causes a higher pay. It is much rather a benchmarking behaviour where those universities with below average pay increase their VC pay quicker than those with above average pay.

‘Keeping up with VC Jones’ is what seems to explain the recent inflation of VC pay, rather than their good performance.

You can download the complete paper here.

Prof Nizar Allouch

Constrained public goods in networks

by Nizar Allouch, University of Kent, and Maia King, University of Oxford. Discussion paper KDPE 1806, May 2018.

Non-technical summary:

Voluntary contributions account for the provision of many public goods, ranging from essential infrastructure, education, to health care, while at the aggregate level charitable giving represents a significant proportion of GDP in many countries. The seminal contribution of Bergstrom, Blume, and Varian (1986), built on an earlier striking result by Warr (1981), provides a rigorous investigation of the standard model of private provision of pure public goods.

Recent work on public goods in networks, initiated by the key paper of Bramoullé and Kranton (2007), has many interesting facets and applications. The technology of network analysis allows us to generalise from the provision of pure public goods, which benefit all agents, to a more detailed model of local public goods with a heterogeneous benefit structure shaped by a network.

This paper analyses the private provision of public goods where agents interact within a fixed network structure and may benefit only from their direct neighbours’ provisions. We survey the literature and then generalise the public goods in networks model of Bramoullé and Kranton (2007) to allow for constrained provision. In so doing, we show that, any network supports a Nash equilibrium with no intermediate contributors.

You can download the complete paper here.

SMEs invited to take part in a cyber-security survey and health check

The School of Economics and School of Computing are working together on an EPSRC-funded project on cyber security. As part of the project they and are keen to talk to SMEs about their experience in this field.

SMEs who are available to take part in a short survey on cyber security will receive a FREE cyber security health check from the Kent IT Consultancy, the School of Computing’s student-staffed IT Consultancy. In the health check you will be walked through the Cyber Essentials Scheme and given personalized feedback on steps your business can take to improve cyber security.

The survey and health check will take around 60-90 minutes. Places will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis and so please book early.

To register for the survey and consultancy, please contact the KITC via email: cyber@kitc-solutions.co.uk.

For more information on the research project go to https://www.emphasis.ac.uk

https://www.kitc-solutions.co.uk/

Economics and Sociology student Jaye revolutionising animal adoption

Jaye Graham, an Economics and Sociology student created a ‘dating’ style app to match rescue animals to new owners. Her idea won a £1,000 investment last year from the Kent Business School.

The app called ‘Pawfect Match’ matches users with rescue animals within a certain distance from their homes, depending on how far they would like to travel. Shelters take photos of the animals, upload them to the platform and within a few moments the animals will appear on the platform.

Similarly to ‘dating’ style apps, you swipe left if you are not interested and right to add the animal to your favourites. You can then send a message to the shelter.

Jaye has started to work with an app development company and aims to have the app ready to download by the summer. See more info here. 

Welcome back to former PhD students Marcelo, Matteo and Alex

Over the summer, we are lucky to be welcoming back three former PhD students to the School of Economics.

Marcelo Piancastelli di Siqueira, from University of Brazilia (13th June-14th September); Matteo Lanzafame, from University of Messina (25th June to 9th July), and Alex Ferreira, from University of Sao Paulo (28th June to 4th July).

They will be based in the Visitors Room, so make sure you get a chance to stop by and say hello.

Keynes College

The Fall in German Unemployment: A Flow Analysis

by Carlos Carrillo-Tudela, University of Essex, CEPR, CESifo and IZA; Andrey Launov, University of Kent, CESifo and IZA; and Jean-Marc Robin, Sciences Po and UCL. Discussion paper KDPE 1805, March 2018.

Non-technical summary:

In this paper we investigate the recent fall in unemployment, and the rise in part-time work, labour market participation, inequality and welfare in Germany. Unemployment fell because the Hartz IV reform induced a large fraction of the long-term unemployed to deregister as jobseekers and appear as non-participants. Yet, labour force participation increased because many unregistered-unemployed workers ended up accepting low-paid part-time work that was offered in quantity in absence of a universal minimum wage. A large part of the rise in part-time work was also due to the tax benefits Hartz II introduced to take up a mini-job as secondary employment. This has provided an easy way to top-up labour income staggering under the pressure of wage moderation. The rise in part-time work led to an increase in inequality at the lower end of income distribution. Overall we find that Germany increased welfare as unemployment fell.

You can download the complete paper here.

Professor Iain Fraser

Food and Consumers: Current Issues and Future Directions

A food and consumers research forum was held at the University of Kent on Friday 6th April, the same day in which the UK’s so called “sugar tax” came into effect. The event was organised by Professor Iain Fraser (Economics), Professor Ben Lowe (KBS) and Dr Diogo Souza-Monteiro (Newcastle University). Around 30 people registered for the event and speakers came from all over the UK and Europe. We were delighted that Professor Klaus Grunert (Aarhus University, Denmark) could join us to deliver his keynote speech on “Consumer food quality perception and food choice: The rise of credence qualities and the role of labelling information”. Professor Grunert is a world leader in the area of food marketing and consumer behaviour and the talk focused on marketers’ use of credence attributes such as healthfulness, sustainability and authenticity in positioning new food products. Other presenters spoke around emerging consumer related themes in the food domain including food security, the influence of food labels, take away food consumption, food policy choices, individual consumer processes and the role of technology in conveying more relevant food related information. Some fascinating insights emerged on the role of different research methodologies to reveal more about consumers and their behaviour with respect to food.

This was a truly interdisciplinary event with speakers and attendees from economics, marketing, psychology, sociology and public health backgrounds. The interdisciplinary approach attracted some lively discussion during and after the forum and allowed linkages to be drawn between food policy, consumption and the changing environment within which food is acquired, consumed and disposed of. It is great to see such enthusiasm and interest in a topic which affects us in so many different ways. So, lots to do and plenty of food for thought!

Workshop on practical GE modelling

The School of Economics is hosting an Introductory Practical GE Modelling workshop on 10-14 September 2018.

The workshop, which is being run by the Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS), Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, will focus on a typical single-region applied general equilibrium model using GEMPACK.

Further information can be found here: http://www.copsmodels.com/courses.htm.

Alternatively, interested participants can contact Professor Iain Fraser (School of Economics, University of Kent, I.M.Fraser@kent.ac.uk).