Category Archives: Impact

Prof Tony Thirlwall

40th anniversary of Tony Thirlwall’s influential paper

2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Tony Thirlwall’s influential paper ‘The Balance of Payments Constraint as an Explanation of International Growth Rate Differences’ published in the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, March 1979, which now has 1,700 Google Scholar citations.

To commemorate, there will be a Special Issue of the Review of Keynesian Economics devoted to the paper; also a Spanish translation of the paper in the Mexican journal, Investigacion Economia, and a Portuguese translation in the Brazilian journal, Nova Economia.

Dr Amrit Amirapu

The cost of labour regulations in India

A working paper by Dr Amrit Amirapu (University of Kent) and Dr Michael Gechter (Pennsylvania State University) has been featured on VoxEU.

‘We inform the debate on labour regulations in India by costing their burden on firms and studying the role corruption plays in increasing these costs.

In policy debates and academic literature, restrictive labour regulations have been blamed for some of the most significant problems faced by developing countries, including low labour force participation rates and low levels of employment in the formal sector (Besley and Burgess 2004, Botero et al. 2004, Djankov and Ramalho 2009). But there is a bit of a puzzle: why are labour regulations so costly in a developing country setting, where enforcement agencies are typically characterised by severe resource constraints, low compliance and widespread corruption (Svensson 2005, Chatterjee and Kanbur 2013, Kanbur and Ronconi 2015)? Moreover, how do you measure a regulation’s effective cost to firms if its enforcement differs in practice from what is written in the text of the laws?’

Read the full blog post here. 

Road pricing key to solving UK traffic woes

Emeritus Professor Roger Vickerman explains why tackling congestion on UK road requires innovative new ideas, chiefly a form of road pricing that charges for use rather than simply vehicle ownership.

‘A year on from the report that UK drivers spend an average of 31 hours a year in traffic jams we now have evidence on the most congested roads in the UK. And this shows that although the worst trouble spots are in London the problem affects all our big cities. I have argued before that what is needed is a nationwide system of charging for roads by use – road pricing. But this would need to be embedded within a much more strategic rethink of how we provide the transport we need for our cities and towns.

‘We already have blunt instruments such as the London Congestion Charge, but a sophisticated system of electronic tolling would charge drivers for their actual use of the system and by differentiating by the time of day can encourage those with the flexibility to adjust their journeys to times of lower traffic volumes. The current system of charging motorists is a tax on car purchase and ownership, and doesn’t distinguish by area of residence or actual use.

‘Cars spend an average 95% of their life parked. Residents of rural areas, many of whom have no alternative to using a car, typically travel on the least congested roads, but pay the same in road tax and fuel duty. Such drivers would be better off under a system which charged for the actual use of roads that reflected levels of congestion. The overall cost to road users would be less; the estimated average cost of that 31 hours of wasted time is £1,168; that would pay for a lot of miles. The usual response is to call for more road building, and whilst that and junction improvements can help in some cases, the evidence suggests that traffic typically expands to fill the space available.

‘But it is not just about cars competing for road space. Much of the increase in traffic in towns comes from van traffic – typically delivering our online purchases – we have to recognise that this too has a cost that will have to be paid for. Eventually, as with any limited resource, the only solution is one that uses price as a means of allocation – that’s how we charge for the alternatives such as bus, rail or air. And if all modes of transport were priced on the same basis we could make a better-informed choice of the right one to use for each journey.

‘This shows the need for a much more integrated approach to transport planning embracing new technologies both in the delivery of transport services and in paying for them. Politicians need to grasp this nettle now.’

-ENDS-
Original article by Dan Worth, University of Kent Press Office

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Grant success for Amrit and Zaki

Congratulations to Amrit Amirapu and Zaki Wahhaj who have obtained a research grant from the UK Department of International Development’s EDI research programme to study peer effects in traditional marriage customs. In developing countries, where the state often has a weak capacity to enforce laws, social pressures and expectations can play an important role in hindering or accelerating behaviour proscribed by marriage laws. The project will build on an ongoing EDI project in Bangladesh to test these ideas, using an experimental design that exploits a recent change in child marriage laws. They are partnering in this research with the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the research firm Data Analysis and Technical Assistance in Bangladesh.

The image is taken from a psychological test designed to measure the impact of the new law on attitudes towards early marriage practices among men and women in rural Bangladesh.

School holds workshop on Networks in Economics

On Friday 12 October 2018, The School of Economics hosted the second Kent Workshop on Networks in Economics. Organised by Nizar Allouch and Bansi Malde, it featured leading researchers from across the UK and Europe, including Francis Bloch (Paris School of Economics), Christian Ghiglino (Essex), Mich Tvede (UEA), Pau Milan (UAB, MOVE and Barcelona GSE), Anja Prummer (Queen Mary) and Luis Candelaria (Warwick). The workshop program can be found here.

Technology key to making food origin labels useful

Any move to force food producers to provide information on the origin of ingredients in products will require the use of technology to help consumers use and benefit from this information, according to research.

In a new paper Professor Iain Fraser, from the University’s School of Economics, examined the potential for mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) information and how it could be best implemented.

Currently only a small number of products in the European Union legally require COOL information, such as for wine, eggs, beef and fruit and vegetables. For beef, this labelling must also differentiate between place of birth and where it is reared and slaughtered.

Many consumers say they like such information and prior research by Professor Fraser has found that UK shoppers are willing to pay more for meat with a UK COOL label, especially since the horse meat scandal of 2013.

However, there is often confusion about what the information refers to – such as meat products that don’t specify where the animal was raised as opposed to where it was slaughtered. Bacon, for example, can be cured in the UK but come from Danish pigs and be presented as from the UK, or vice versa and both would be legal.

The EU is in discussions to require COOL information as a mandatory requirement for almost all foodstuffs. This could have potentially huge ramifications for both producers and consumers, particularly in how best to present this information in a usable, trustworthy manner.

Professor Fraser notes that technologies such as blockchain and SmartLabels are among the ways in which consumers could receive information on packaging detailing the location from which an item has come.

The use of these technologies in this way already exists in a few examples, such as within Australia, or Switzerland, but have the potential to become more widespread if required, or consumers demand, more information on the origins of food products.

The paper adds that it may become the case that consumers can use a smartphone app to scan food in store, or set their preferences when shopping online, to seek out food with specific COOL data so that they can make the access to this data as useful as possible to their own needs.

The paper, entitled Wrapped in the Flag: Food Choice and Country of Origin Labelling, has been published in EuroChoices.

-ENDS-

Original article by Dan Worth, University of Kent Press Office

Effects of population ageing

The School’s Dr Katsuyuki Shibayama (Principal Investigator), Professor Miguel León-Ledesma, and Dr Keisuke Otsu (Keio University and Honorary Lecturer at Kent) have received funding from the Murata Foundation in Japan for 2 million Yen for a project entitled: A quantitative analysis of population ageing on economic growth and income inequality.

The project aims at understanding the consequences of population ageing for the joint dynamics of growth and income distribution. Its objective is to construct a model of overlapping generations where families choose the number of children and their level of education. The model will then be used to analyse the effect of different “anti-ageing” policies on growth and income distribution, namely: female employment support, child-care support, and higher education subsidies.

The model is targeted to reproduce the case of the Japanese economy, one of the more rapidly ageing societies, but will also draw implications for other economies expected to go through a similar demographic experience. The project also consolidates the close links between Kent and Keio, who currently have a student exchange agreement.

Dr Adelina Gschwandtner

Vice chancellor salary study demolishes claims that pay rises are based on performance

Research by the School’s Dr Adelina Gschwandtner and Richard McManus, Canterbury Christ Church University, was covered in The Telegraph on 6 June 2018, by Charles Hymas:

“The most comprehensive study into university vice-chancellors’ pay has demolished their claims that their huge rises are based on performance.

Economists have shown that instead it is the vice-chancellor equivalent of “keeping up with the Jones’s” as the lower-paid race to close the gap with the best-paid university bosses.”

Read the complete article here:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/06/vice-chancellor-salary-study-demolishes-claims-pay-rises-based/

 

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.

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/