Laura Blow

Dr Laura Blow

Associate Professor
+44 (0)1483 686952
20 AD 00
9-11am Wednesdays, Weeks 1-11


Areas of specialism

Applied microeconomics; Consumption choices; Revealed preference; Behavioural economics


Research interests


TKM Beatty, LE Blow, TF Crossley, C O'Dea (2014)Cash by any other name? Evidence on labeling from the UK Winter Fuel Payment, In: Journal of Public Economics118pp. 86-96 Elsevier B.V.

Government transfers to individuals are often given labels indicating that they are designed to support the consumption of particular goods. Standard economic theory implies that the labeling of cash transfers or cash-equivalents should have no effect on spending patterns. We study the UK Winter Fuel Payment, a cash transfer to older households. Our empirical strategy nests a regression discontinuity design within an Engel curve framework. We find robust evidence of a behavioral effect of labeling. On average households spend 47% of the WFP on fuel. If the payment were treated as cash, we would expect households to spend 3% of the payment on fuel.

TKM Beatty, LE Blow, TF Crossley (2014)Is there a ‘heat-or-eat’ trade-off in the UK?, In: Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society)177(1)pp. 281-294 Wiley

Do households cut back on food spending to finance the additional cost of keeping warm during spells of unseasonably cold weather? For households which cannot smooth consumption over time, we describe how cold weather shocks are equivalent to income shocks. We merge detailed household level expenditure data from older households with historical regional weather information. We find evidence that the poorest of older households cannot smooth fuel spending over the worst temperature shocks. Statistically significant reductions in food spending occur in response to winter temperatures 2 or more standard deviations colder than expected, which occur about 1 winter month in 40; reductions in food expenditure are considerably larger in poorer households.

Laura Blow, Martin Browning, Ian Crawford (2020)Nonparametric Analysis of Time-Inconsistent Preferences, In: Review of Economic Studies Oxford University Press

This paper provides a revealed preference characterisation of quasi-hyperbolic discounting which is designed to be applied to readily-available expenditure surveys. We describe necessary and sufficient conditions for the leading forms of the model and also study the consequences of the restrictions on preferences popularly used in empirical lifecycle consumption models. Using data from a household consumption panel dataset we explore the prevalence of time-inconsistent behaviour. The quasi-hyperbolic model provides a significantly more successful account of behaviour than the alternatives considered. We estimate the joint distribution of time preferences and the distribution of discount functions at various time horizons.

Additional publications