Applied Microeconomics Group
We research labour economics, education, health, and family economics, consumption and demand, the economics of sport and crime, international trade and development economics.
We publish in world-class journals such as the Economic Journal, the Journal of the European Economic Association, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of International Economics, Journal of Development Economics and Journal of Health Economics.
Our research is highly cited with both Jo Blanden and Sandra McNally ranking among Research Papers in Economics' (RePEc) top four per cent most cited female economists (May 2019). Laura Blow received the 2017 Atkinson Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Public Economics over the previous three years, while Giuseppe Moscelli received the Italy Made Me award in 2018.
We organise regular seminars and specialist workshops, bringing together leading international researchers in the field.
We attract research funding from a number of sources including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Nuffield Foundation and the British Academy.
Our research has led to links with UK Government departments including the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for International Trade and the Department of Health. Significantly Holger Breinlich is a member of the Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group. We also have related links to think tanks and pressure groups such as the Law Society, the Education Policy Institute and the Early Intervention Foundation.
Sandra McNally is currently on research leave at the London School of Economics where she directs the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), funded by the Department for Education. Her work has recently been drawn on in the Augar Review of Post-18 Education.
We have recently started a major project on NHS staff retention funded by The Health Foundation.
This project investigated the impact of nursery education on children's cognitive and social development. It focused on the expansion in nursery education since 1998, which led to free part-time nursery education for three and four-year-olds and a large increase in the number of nursery places.
- Free part-time nursery places for three-year-olds enabled some children to do better in assessments at the end of Reception, but overall educational benefits are small and do not last
- Between 1999 and 2007, the proportion of three-year-olds in England benefitting from a free nursery place rose from 37% to 88%. However, for every four children given a free place, only one additional child began to use early education. For the other three children, the policy gave parents a discount on the early education that they would have paid for in any case
- While there was modest evidence that the policy had more impact on the poorest, most disadvantaged children, the policy did not close the gap in attainment between those from richer and poorer families in the longer term
- A weak relationship between the characteristics of PVI nurseries and children's outcomes was found. Children taught by a highly qualified staff member and those who attended settings rated as Outstanding by Ofsted scored slightly higher on the Foundation Stage Profile. However, the research found there were substantial unexplained differences in outcomes between nurseries
- Eligibility for an additional term of free part-time early education results in a very small increase in outcomes at age five. There is some evidence that an extra term of entitlement is more beneficial for children who attend settings highly rated by Ofsted, but effects are still small.
- 'The impact of free early childhood education and care on educational achievement: a discontinuity approach investigating both quantity and quality of provision'. University of Surrey School of Economics Discussion Paper No. 06/17.
- ‘Quality in Early Years Settings and Children’s School Achievement’, Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) Discussion Paper No. 1468.
- Blanden, J., Del Bono, E., McNally, S. and Rabe, B. (2016), Universal Pre-school Education: The Case of Public Funding with Private Provision. The Economic Journal, 126: 682–723.
- The impact of free early education for 3 year olds in England (briefing note) - October 2014
- Evaluating a demand-side approach to expanding free pre-school education (full paper) - October 2014
The NHS has experienced a decade of austerity, which has led to negative effects on the working conditions of its large workforce and the ‘haemorrhaging’ of some groups of permanent healthcare staff. These positions must be covered by temporary staff at higher cost or left unfilled to the detriment of patient care.
This project entitled “Retention of clinical workforce in English NHS hospitals: variations, trends and effects on patient outcome” has been funded by The Health Foundation for four years from Spring 2019 and will explore two key questions:
- What are the determinants of variations in NHS workforce retention, in both acute care and mental health hospitals?
- What are the causal effects of workforce retention on outcomes (e.g. mortality, readmissions, Patient Reported Outcome Measures, waiting time, length of stay) in emergency, elective and mental health care?
We anticipate that our results will be important for understanding the important of lowering NHS staff turnover and for identifying policies that NHS employers and other policy makers can use to effectively improve turnover.