Professor Robert Witt

Professor of Economics

Qualifications: BA (CNAA), MSc, MA, PhD (Essex)

Phone: Work: 01483 68 6954
Room no: 23 AD 00

Office hours

Wednesday 10:00 am - 12:00 noon

RePEc web page: download papers

Further information


Robert Witt is Professor of Economics at the University of Surrey. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. From August 2008 to July 2013, he served as Head of Department/School of Economics at Surrey. Professor Witt was educated at Netherhall School, Cambridge, Kingston Polytechnic, and the University of Essex. He worked subsequently as an economic analyst in the City, taught at the City of London Polytechnic and then moved to the University of St. Andrews before being appointed Lecturer in the economics department at Surrey University in 1992. In 2010 he was promoted to full Professor. He has served as a consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Home Office and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. His research is mainly in the areas of economics of crime, applied microeconomics, and labour economics.

Research Interests

Economics of Crime, Applied Microeconomics, Labour economics


Journal articles

  • Bachan R, Reilly B, Witt R. (2014) 'Team Performance and Race: Evidence from the English and French National Soccer Teams'. Applied Economics, 46 (13), pp. 1535-1546.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (2013) 'Red Cards, Referee Home Bias and Social Pressure: Evidence From English Premiership Soccer'. Applied Economics Letters, 20 (7), pp. 710-714.
  • Reilly B, Rickman N, Witt R. (2012) 'Robbing banks: Crime does pay - but not very much'. Significance, 9 (3), pp. 17-21.


    Robbing a bank is the staple crime of thrillers, movies and newspapers. But, say Barry Reilly, Neil Rickman and Robert Witt, bank robbery is not all it is cracked up to be. With access to a unique data set, they give us the low-down on the economics of the bank heist. © 2012 The Royal Statistical Society.

  • Draca M, Machin S, Witt R. (2011) 'Panic on the Streets of London: Police, Crime, and the July 2005 Terror Attacks'. American Economic Review, 101 (5), pp. 2157-2181.


    In this paper we study the causal impact of police on crime, looking at what happened to crime and police before and after the terror attacks that hit central London in July 2005. The attacks resulted in a large redeployment of police officers to central London as compared to outer London. During this time, crime fell significantly in central relative to outer London. The instrumental variable approach we use uncovers an elasticity of crime with respect to police of approximately −0.3 to −0.4, so that a 10 percent increase in police activity reduces crime by around 3 to 4 percent.

  • Reilly B, Witt R. (2011) 'Disciplinary Sanctions in English Premiership Football: Is There a Racial Dimension?'. Labour Economics, 18 (3), pp. 360-370.


    This paper assesses the evidence for a racial difference in both the dispensation of formal disciplinary sanctions and in the number of fouls called by referees in professional football. The study uses a unique dataset comprising player match-level information drawn from five recent seasons of the English Premiership. These data were merged with data from other sources to identify, among other things, the racial affiliation of the player across four separate categories (viz., white, black, mixed race, and Asian). No systematic evidence of an unfair treatment of players from the non-white minority groups in respect of either the receipt of disciplinary cards or in the number of penalised fouls called by referees was detected.

  • Reilly B, Witt R. (2008) 'Domestic burglaries and the real price of audio-visual goods: Some time series evidence for Britain'. Economics Letters, 100 (1), pp. 96-100.
  • Bachan R, Reilly B, Witt R. (2008) 'The hazard of being an English football league manager: empirical estimates for three recent league seasons'. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 59 (7), pp. 884-891.
  • Rickman N, Witt R. (2008) 'Favouritism and financial incentives: A natural experiment'. Economica, 75 (298), pp. 296-309.


    Principals who exercise favouritism towards certain agents may harm those who are not so favoured. We address this issue in the context of a natural experiment from English soccer. We study the effects of professional referees on a common measure of referee bias: length of injury time in close matches. We find that referees exercised a degree of favouritism prior to professionalism but not afterwards, having controlled for selection and soccer-wide effects. We also discuss the suitability of the variable that we, and others, use to measure favouritism, noting that alternative interpretations may be possible.

  • Rickman N, Witt R. (2007) 'The determinants of employee crime in the UK'. Economica, 74 (293), pp. 161-175.
  • Lemke RJ, Witt R, Witte AD. (2007) 'The transition from welfare to work'. Eastern Economic Journal, 33 (3), pp. 359-373.
  • Clements MP, Witt R. (2005) 'Forecasting Quarterly Aggregate Crime Series'. The Manchester School, 76 (6), pp. 709-727.
  • Witt R. (2005) 'Do Players React to Sanction Changes? Evidence form the English Premier League'. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 52 (4), pp. 623-640.
  • Witte AD, Witt R. (2001) 'What We Spend and What We get: Public and Private Provision of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice'. Fiscal Studies, 22 (1), pp. 1-40.
  • Witt R, Witte AD. (2000) 'Crime, Prison and Female Labour Supply'. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 16 (1), pp. 69-85.
  • Witt R, Clarke A, Fielding N. (1999) 'Crime and Economic Activity: A Panel Data Approach'. British Journal of Criminology, 39 (3), pp. 391-400.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (1998) 'Petrol Price Asymmetries Revisited'. Energy Economics, 20 (3), pp. 297-308.


    An error correction model is fitted to monthly data on net retail prices for the United Kingdom over the period January 1982 to June 1995 in order to examine the short-run response of retail petrol prices to changes in input costs and the exchange rate. The hypothesis of a symmetric response by petrol retailers to crude price rises and falls is rejected by the data over the period examined. A similar hypothesis in regard to the exchange rate is also rejected by the data.

  • Witt R, Clarke A, Fielding N. (1998) 'Common Trends and Common Cycles in Regional Crime'. Applied Economics, 30 (1), pp. 1407-1412.
  • Witt R, Clarke A, Fielding N. (1998) 'Crime, Earnings, Inequality and Unemployment in England and Wales'. Applied Economics Letters, 5 (4), pp. 265-267.
  • Witt R. (1997) 'The Demand for Car Fuel Efficiency: Some Evidence for the UK'. Applied Economics, 29 (9), pp. 1249-1254.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (1996) 'Crime, Deterrence and Unemployment in England and Wales: An Empirical Analysis'. Bulletin of Economic Research, 48 (2), pp. 137-159.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (1995) 'English League Transfer Prices: Is There a Racial Dimension?'. Applied Economics Letters, 2 (7), pp. 220-222.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (1994) 'Regional House Prices and possessions in England and Wales: An Empirical Analysis'. Regional Studies, 28 (5), pp. 475-482.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (1992) 'Regional Crime and Unemployment in Scotland: An Econometric Analysis'. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 39 (2), pp. 213-228.
  • Reilly B, Witt R. (1992) 'Are the Treasury's Tax Revenue Forecasts Rational?'. The Manchester School, 60 (4), pp. 390-402.


  • Fielding NG, Clarke A, Witt R. (2000) The Economic Dimensions of Crime. Palgrave Macmillan

Book chapters

  • Draca M, Machin S, Witt R. (2010) 'Crime Displacement and Police Interventions: Evidence from London’s “Operation Theseus"'. in Tella RD, Edwards S, Schargrodsky E (eds.) The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America University Of Chicago Press: NBER Conference. Article number 10 , pp. 359-374.


    This book contributes to the current debate on causes and solutions by applying lessons learned from recent developments in the economics of crime

  • Witte AD, Witt R. (2003) 'What We Spend and What We Get: Public and Private Provision of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice'. in Miles D, Myles G, Preston I (eds.) The Economics of Public Spending OUP Oxford , pp. 199-235.


    In providing a detailed analysis of public expenditure, the book makes an important contribution to the economics literature. There are no other texts with this breadth of coverage or depth of analysis.

  • Witt R, Witte AD. (2002) 'Crime Causation: Economic Theories'. in Dressler J (ed.) Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice MacMillan Reference Library 1, pp. 302-306.


    Entries cover civil and criminal issues, from domestic violence to terrorism. Entries cite pertinent legal cases as well as publications for further information. Also includes a glossary of related terms.

  • Clarke A, Fielding N, Witt R. (2000) 'Crime, Unemployment and Deprivation'. in Fielding N, Clarke A, Witt R (eds.) The Economics Dimensions of Crime London and New York : Macmillan Press and St. Martin's Press , pp. 210-222.

Working Papers

  • Bale T, Reilly B, Witt R. (2008) Determining Constituency Marginality in the UK Using the Expense Claims of MPs. University of Surrey School of Economics Discussion Paper, DP 01/08, pp. 1-18.


    A United Kingdom (UK) parliamentary seat is commonly referred to as ‘marginal’ if the majority is less than 10% of votes cast thus rendering the seat vulnerable on a swing of 5%. This paper investigates whether the spending behaviour of MPs on selected constituency service expenditure categories can offer insights on what constitutes a ‘marginal’ seat within the UK ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system. The possible existence of a non-linear relationship between the expense claims of MPs and the size of the constituency majority provides the basis for such an insight. This paper thus investigates the empirical nature of this non-linear relationship using separate specifications based on quadratic and piece-wise linear splines in constituency majority size. The empirical analysis reported for the behavior of MPs appears broadly consistent with the conventional definition used to classify a ‘marginal’ constituency in the UK

  • Reilly B, Witt R. (2007) The Determinants of Base Pay and the Role of Race in Major League Soccer: Evidence from the 2007 League Season. University of Surrey School of Economics Discussion Paper, DP 19/07, pp. 1-27.


    This paper examines pay determination in the labor market of a professional team sport hitherto neglected by researchers in the U.S. Using data on 361 Major League Soccer (MLS) players for one recent league season, mean and median regression models are exploited to investigate salary determinants. In comport with the available empirical evidence on racial pay discrimination in other professional team sports in the U.S., this study finds no overall evidence of pay disadvantage for non-white players. However, there is tentative evidence that black players who are not U.S. citizens actually fare worse than some other groups in salary terms


ECO3038 Topics in Microeconomics

ECOM043 Econometrics 2

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