Tuesday, January 24, 2017

March 10th Stirling Workshop on Valuation and Well-Being

Workshop on Valuation and Well-Being 

On March 10th, we will host a workshop on valuation and well-being in Stirling University. Those with an interest in the area are welcome to attend. There is no registration fee but places are limited by space and we would ask people to register in advance at the following link. The preliminary programme is below and will be updated shortly.

Scope of Workshop 

The key aim of the workshop is to advance understanding of the comparison between different methods of revealing preferences and valuations for public and private goods. One key aspect of this is to understand how well-being and stated preferences measures compare and contrast. While there has been some literature on this, there is still a lot needed to be learned about this comparison. Furthermore, we would like to understand what new methods such as the day reconstruction method contribute to understanding about revealed preference.

- Comparing well-being and stated preference measures to value cultural and heritage goods
- Using day reconstruction methods to develop new measures of well-being and revealed preference
- The potential for validated mental health measures to be used in valuing public goods
- Examining psychological features of stated preference elicitation
- Comparing revealed and stated preference measures


9am to 915am: Opening and Introduction: Liam Delaney (University College Dublin).

9.15 to 10am: Nick Hanley (St Andrews): “Emotions, personality and stated choices for environmental public goods”, (with Christopher and Mikolaj Czajkowski.)

10am to 1045am: Mirko Moro (Stirling): "Valuing the Environment using Well-Being Data".


11am to 11.45: David Comerford (Stirling): "Inferring Preferences from Choice Data: The Role of Act Utility". (with Leo Lades).

11.45 to 1230: Susana Mourato (LSE): "Well-Being and Stated Preference Approaches for Valuing Cultural and Heritage Goods".

1230 to 130: Lunch 

1.30 to 2.15: Leo Lades (Stirling): "Assessing subjective well-being when preferences are dynamically inconsistent" (with Liam Delaney).

2.15 to 3pm: TBC: "Behavioural Economics and Discrete Choice Experiments".

Conclusion and Keynote: Glenn Harrison (George State University).

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dublin Research Group Monday Meetings

We held the first weekly meeting of the new Dublin behavioural science group on January 9th in the Geary Institute boardroom at 11am. The first meeting addressed the ideas for the new group and hear initial project outlines.  There will be a weekly session throughout 2017 to develop the research program.  It will be a dynamic and evolving session consisting of mini-seminars, technology demonstrations,  project brainstorming sessions,  project updates,  funding updates,  events planning, external visits,  and many more.  It will be the engine room of the new initiative. I would be happy to hear from people who are interested in discussing potential collaborations or want to get feedback on PhD projects etc.,


January 9th:

Liam Delaney: Overview
Pete Lunn: Pricelab and ESRI collaboration
Slawa Rokicki: Mobile Sexual Health Interventions
Leonhard Lades: Day Reconstruction Methods and Public Policy

January 16th:

Liam Delaney: ERC Application on Empirical Foundations of Behavioural Welfare Economics
Michael Daly: Childhood Self-Control and Lifelong Outcomes

January 23rd:

Patrick Wall; Behavioural, Risk Communication, and Public Policy

January 30th:

Philip Newall: Behavioural Economics, Gambling, and Public Policy.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Stirling Recruiting Professor/Associate Professor in Behavioural Economics

See below for an exciting post in Stirling University. Full details on this link.
Stirling Management School is seeking to hire an outstanding scholar in the areas of behavioural economics and/or behavioural science to lead and develop our teaching and research activities in this area, as well as contribute at a Professorial level to the development of the Division of Economics and School of Management at Stirling. Behavioural economics is a key area for the Division of Economics and the interdisciplinary area of behavioural science more generally is a key research theme for the Stirling School of Management. The candidate will be located within the Division of Economics and will ideally either be a behavioural economist or a behavioural scientist with a high degree of experience and interest in building lasting collaborations with economics researchers. Over the last 5 years, we have built this area as a key theme with over 100 research publications, significant competitive peer reviewed funding from bodies such as ESRC and EU Commission, and the development of a full MSc programme in this area. We hope to continue to grow and develop this area and the successful candidate will be given significant support in pursuing this.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Research Fellow Position at QUB

Applications are sought for a research fellow to work on a project on the determinants and consequences of fertility (comparing low and middle income countries with those in a historical context - early 20th century Ireland).

Applicants are expected to hold or be about to obtain a PhD in economics, demography, or a related discipline. Candidates with experience in development economics, economic history, and/or demography are especially welcome.

The successful candidate will be based at Queen’s Management School, working with the Centre for Health Research at the Management School (CHaRMS) and the Centre for Economic History (QUECH). 

This is a 12 month position, with the deadline for applications Monday 6th February. 

Examples of the type of research the position will involve include:

Delaney, L., McGovern, M.E., Smith, J.P., 2011. From Angela’s Ashes to the Celtic Tiger: Early Life Conditions and Adult Health in Ireland. Journal of Health Economics 30, 1–10.

Fernihough, A., McGovern, M.E., 2014. Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany. Journal of Population Economics 27, 1145–1163.

Informal questions can be directed to m.mcgovern@qub.ac.uk, further details of the position and how to apply are available here:

Behavioural Science in Law & Policy: Evidence, Ethics, & Expertise Workshop Summary

Thanks to Kathryn MacKay for preparing this excellent summary of our recent workshop on the ethics and evidence of behavioural science in public policy. The workshop was organised by myself and Muireann Quigley from Newcastle Law School and heard talks for a range of speakers from psychology, law, economics, sociology, and public policy perspectives. The ethical and legal aspects of behavioral science applications in policy is one of three key themes of our emerging research group in Dublin and we will be organising several events on these topics over the next three years. 
Behavioural economics, and behavioural science more generally, has become an increasingly salient aspect of modern policy debates. Despite the current enthusiasm amongst governments and policy-makers for behavioural approaches, there are potential problems with the use of the behavioural sciences to formulate public policy, many of which remain underexplored. This workshop brought together papers from a range of different disciplinary, regulatory, and practical perspectives to examine the potential benefits and pitfalls of behavioural science as applied to policy. The workshop was focused around three core themes: Evidence, Ethics, and Expertise. Speakers presented on the debates surrounding the existence of empirical evidence for people's irrationality, including evidence for biases and an unwarranted reliance on heuristics, which is often used as the justification for 'nudge' techniques. Presenters also questioned the normative foundation for the use of these techniques, in law and in ethics. Finally, presenters discussed the policy-making process in terms of what is counted as evidence and who is granted the authority of expertise to make behavioural policy decisions, as well as the complexity of doing truly interdisciplinary work in academia and in policy. This report provides a summary of the presentations in each session, as well as some of the themes that emerged from discussions on the individual sessions and the workshop as a whole. While presenters approached the topic of behavioural insights in policy development from different angles, the broad consensus at the end of the day was that these should be approached and implemented with caution. Presenters agreed that much more research on behaviourally-informed policy's effectiveness over time and impact on people's welfare is needed. Presenters also largely agreed that the application of behavioural insights was not a straight-forward exercise, and tended to raise very important ethical, legal, and empirical questions. There was further consensus that behavioural sciences will continue to evolve and to inform policy in advanced democracies, and that as the field moves forward other disciplines will be required to test, verify, critique, and surveil the translation of behavioural insights into policy.

New Paper on Day Reconstruction and Policy Trials

See below for our recently published paper utilising day reconstruction methods in the context of a randomised policy intervention in Dublin. Using such methods to examine the well-being effect of public policies is a promising area and we are currently working on a set of studies widening the methodology to also examine choices and mechanisms of behavioural change.

Can Early Intervention Improve Maternal Well-Being? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial

Orla Doyle ,
Liam Delaney,
Christine O’Farrelly,
Nick Fitzpatrick,
Michael Daly

Published: January 17, 2017



This study estimates the effect of a targeted early childhood intervention program on global and experienced measures of maternal well-being utilizing a randomized controlled trial design. The primary aim of the intervention is to improve children’s school readiness skills by working directly with parents to improve their knowledge of child development and parenting behavior. One potential externality of the program is well-being benefits for parents given its direct focus on improving parental coping, self-efficacy, and problem solving skills, as well as generating an indirect effect on parental well-being by targeting child developmental problems.


Participants from a socio-economically disadvantaged community are randomly assigned during pregnancy to an intensive 5-year home visiting parenting program or a control group. We estimate and compare treatment effects on multiple measures of global and experienced well-being using permutation testing to account for small sample size and a stepdown procedure to account for multiple testing.


The intervention has no impact on global well-being as measured by life satisfaction and parenting stress or experienced negative affect using episodic reports derived from the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). Treatment effects are observed on measures of experienced positive affect derived from the DRM and a measure of mood yesterday.


The limited treatment effects suggest that early intervention programs may produce some improvements in experienced positive well-being, but no effects on negative aspects of well-being. Different findings across measures may result as experienced measures of well-being avoid the cognitive biases that impinge upon global assessments.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network Meetings

The 6th Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network meet-up will take place on Feb. 9th from 6.00 to 7.30pm (location will be confirmed closer to the date). This meet-up will focus on the behavioural economics and the ethics of influence, and the speakers will be confirmed shortly. Sign-up here to register.

In 2017, we have five meet-ups scheduled, as well as the annual Irish economics and psychology workshop on December 1st:

9th February: Behavioural Economics and the Ethics of Influence (sign-up here)
30th March: Behavioural Science and Social Justice (sign-up here)
18th May: Field, Lab, and Natural Experiments in Public Policy (sign-up here)
7th September: Behavioural Economics and Communications in Policy and Business (sign-up here)
19th October: Behavioural Economics and the Future of Regulation (sign-up here)
1st December: 10th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference (sign-up here)