Friday, October 24, 2014

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer Post at Stirling Economics

The Economics Division is seeking to recruit an outstanding lecturer/senior lecturer in Economics, with a focus on applied microeconomics in particular in areas such as health, education, aging and population economics. This post is offered at Lecturer or Senior Lecturer level, dependent on the experience and achievements of the candidate appointed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

3-Year Lectureship in Behavioural Science

The Stirling Management School is seeking to appoint an outstanding lecturer in Behavioural Science to drive our research and teaching in this area for a three-year research intensive contract. This is an excellent opportunity to develop a coherent research strategy in behavioural science and contribute to an ambitious research centre. The successful candidate will have a minimum 40 per cent protected research time and be supported in publishing outstanding research in leading peer reviewed outlets, will contribute to teaching and supervision on the MSc in Behavioural Science and will be responsible for the delivery of a behavioural economics module at undergraduate level. The candidate will be strongly supported in developing their own research agenda and will work alongside a growing stream of experienced and early career researchers in the area of behavioural science.

Established in 2012, the Behavioural Sciences Centre is an interdisciplinary research centre which brings together approaches from economics, psychology, and medicine to address the key questions in society, such as how to better understand and foster economic and industrial prosperity, decision making and behaviour, and health and well-being. The centre pursues these goals through basic science and applied research, educational programmes, and industrial collaborations. The post-holder will be part of the Behavioural Science Centre and also affiliated to one of our four main School Divisions: Marketing; Economics; Management, Work and Organisation; and Accountancy and Finance. The initial contract is for three years with the possibility of review at the end of this period.

Details of how to apply are available here. Closing date for applications is midnight on Wednesday, 19th November 2014

7th Irish Economics and Psychology Conference in Dublin 31.10.14

The seventh annual one day conference on Economics and Psychology, co-organised by researchers from UCD, ESRI and NUIM, will be held on October 31st in the UCD Geary Institute. The purpose of these sessions is to develop the link between Economics, Psychology and cognate disciplines in Ireland. A special theme of these events is the implications of behavioural economics for public policy though the workshops have covered work across all areas of intersection of Economics and Psychology. Programmes from the previous six events are here. We welcome students, academics, policy-makers, industry representatives and others with an interest in this area. Registration is free but you should sign up on the link below if you are attending. Questions about the event can be addressed to Liam.Delaney@stir.ac.uk

Sign up to attend here

Programme:

09.00-09.20: Registration

09:20-09:30: Introduction

09:30-10:00: Dr. Michael Daly (Stirling)
Time preferences predict inflammation in later life
Abstract: 
Prominent economic and psychological models suggest that impatient individuals with high discount rates invest less in their health leading to adverse physiological consequences (Grossman, 1972; Hall & Fong, 2007). The aim of this study is to test, for the first time, whether time discount rates elicited from an incentivised experiment become biologically embedded via changes in C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen levels over time. The sample was drawn from the population-based English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Those who completed a preference module and provided blood plasma samples at two time-points for analysis were included in the study (n=427; Age=63.6 (SD=5.7); 52.8% Female). Discount rates were calculated from a set of 12 choices between smaller sooner and larger later rewards (e.g. £25 in two weeks or £30 in one month) where the participant won the value of a randomly selected choice (median reward £28). Our results indicate a substantial relationship between high discount rates and high levels of inflammation two years later as gauged by CRP (β=.18; p<.001) and fibrinogen (β=.1; p<.05) in analyses which adjusted for age, gender, marital status, wealth and prior inflammation levels. This pattern was robust to the inclusion of controls for BMI, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, other long-term illnesses, smoking, physical activity, and alcohol consumption. Further adjustment for cognitive functioning and the Big Five personality traits did not affect the associations observed. This study provides strong evidence that incentivised elicited discount rates robustly predict longitudinal changes in inflammation in a national sample.

10:00-10:30: Marek Bohacek (ESRI)
The Integration of Visual, Numeric and Categorical Information in Judgements of Value
Pete Lunn, Marek Bohacek*, & Jason Somerville, ESRI and Trinity College Dublin
Abstract:
We investigate how accurately consumers can integrate information about multiple product attributes into judgements of value, while manipulating the nature of the attributes. Using a 2AFC “objective valuation” (OV) task, we compare performance in multi-attribute judgements when attribute magnitudes are provided as visual cues, numeric magnitudes, or between two and four categories of quality. Across three experiments with different products, we find no improvement in the accuracy of judgements when attribute magnitudes are provided as numbers, rather than as visual cues. We do find small improvements when an attribute consists of just two categories (good versus bad), or when categories are correlated with the likelihood of obtaining a surplus relative to a price. Overall, our results suggest that: (1) precise numeric attribute scales do not improve multi-attribute judgement; (2) it is the difficulty of integrating information from incommensurate attribute scales determines performance in multi-attribute judgement.
10:30-11:00: Coffee

11:00-11:45:  Prof. Rowena Pecchenino (NUIM)
The Economic Consequences of Despair
Abstract: 
This paper examines despair, the total loss of hope, from the perspectives of many disciplines to characterize the despairing individual, his motivations, and his capacity for decision-making.  It then examines the extent to which economics has recognized despair and whether economics should incorporate despair into its theoretical and policy analyses, and, if so, how.

11:45-12:30: Dr. Pete Lunn (ESRI)
Do Consumers Value Products they are Familiar with more Accurately? (with Marek Bohacek & Féidhlim McGowan).
Abstract: 
We investigate how the precision of consumer valuations is affected by familiarity with the product. Using a within-subject design, we compare performance in a 2AFC "objective valuation" task across four products: houses, contracts for broadband services, and two unfamiliar computer-generated products. Participants decide whether each product, with a given set of attributes at a particular price, represents good or bad value. The value of the familiar products is objectively defined by two statistical models relating attributes to prices in the market. The same models also determine the mathematical relationship between attributes and prices of the two unfamiliar products, allowing us to identify the effect due to familiarity. Data collection is to be completed by end-September. We will present an initial analysis of the experimental data at the conference.

12:30 - 13:30: Lunch

13:30-14:00: Prof. Liam Delaney (Stirling)
Behavioural Economics and Irish Public Policy 
Abstract: 
This presentation will outline the relevance of the last ten years of behavioural economics and behavioural science for research across a number of domains including pensions policy, financial regulation, education, health and consumer policy.

14:00-14:45: Dr. Edel Walsh, (School of Economics, University College Cork)
An Examination of Life Satisfaction in Ireland: Evidence from the European Social Survey 5 (2010)
Abstract: 
The aim of this research is to establish the most significant factors affecting life satisfaction, at an individual level, in Ireland during the recent economic recession. The global financial crisis significantly impacted the Irish economy and by 2010 Ireland was experiencing its third consecutive year of negative growth. During the period 2007 to 2010 the level and rate of unemployment increased substantially in Ireland with an average unemployment rate of 13.8 per cent being reported in 2010. In addition, unemployment affected men more than women and in particular the 20-24 year age group. Given the well-established link between life satisfaction, income and unemployment, the economic conditions in Ireland in 2010 make it an interesting case to study. The data used in this analysis were obtained from the Irish component of the European Social Survey 5 (2010).

Using both OLS and ordered probit models the determinants of life satisfaction are estimated. The paper also tests if there are significant gender differences in the results but find no significant differences in the determinants of male and female life satisfaction in Ireland at that time. The main findings suggest that unemployment has a statistically significant effect on reducing life satisfaction. Income is found to have a significant, but modest effect on improving life satisfaction. The results also suggest that being young (24 or younger) or old (over 65) and having social connections have the largest positive effects on life satisfaction. Other findings suggest that having children positively impacts on one’s life satisfaction. Living in a rural area of Ireland is a positive factor affecting an individual’s satisfaction with their life. Further significant results indicate that life satisfaction is largely, negatively influenced by marital status (being divorced or separated) and suffering from a disability. The overall findings are important in the context of the current policy focus on well-being in Ireland.

14:45-15:30pm: Dr. Ronan Lyons (Trinity College Dublin & Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE)
What house price equation do households use? Insights from the Irish housing market, 2003-2014
Abstract: 
Housing is the most important good in the typical household’s consumption basket and the largest asset in its portfolio. Given this, and given that expectations about house prices act as a demand shifter, the measurement of house price expectations is a topic of importance for economic policy. This research attempts to answer two related questions. Firstly, to what extent are expectations backward-looking, rather than based on perceptions of future fundamentals? And secondly, how do households believe that changes in fundamentals will affect house prices? These questions are answered combining national surveys (2003-2008), national and local surveys (2011-2014) and an experimental survey, drawing on methods from the willingness-to-pay literature.

15:30-16:00: Coffee 

16:00-17:00:  Prof. Ruth Byrne (TCD)
The Cognitive Science of the Human Imagination
Abstract: 
The human imagination remains one of the last uncharted terrains of the mind. In everyday imaginative thought, people often create alternatives to reality and imagine how events might have turned out ‘if only’ something had been different. People engage in such flights of the imagination for more than entertainment – psychological experiments show that the alternatives to reality that people create ensure that they learn the causes of outcomes and how to prevent them in the future; they contribute to the experience of emotions such as regret, guilt, relief and hope; and they underlie social ascriptions of blame, responsibility, and fault. The loss of these imaginative thoughts following certain sorts of brain injury has devastating consequences for normal cognition.

New discoveries suggest that, just as experiments have shown that rational thought is more imaginative than previously supposed, so too imaginative thought is more rational than previously supposed.  Cognitive scientists have established that people tend to change the same sorts of things in their ‘if only’ thoughts, such as events within their control, actions rather than inactions, exceptions rather than usual events. These ‘fault-lines’ in the human imagination provide important clues about its logic and its limitations, and indicate that imaginative thoughts are guided by the same principles that underlie rational thoughts. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mastering ’Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect

Have not read this yet but the follow-up to the now famous primer on microeconometrics "Mostly Harmless Econometrics" is bound to be of big interest to a lot of readers here. Will do a couple of sessions on this internally when we get some copies. Have no idea what the Kung-Fu stuff is about but both authors are top of their game in terms of micro-econometrics and the reviews are very good so I am confident this will be a very useful book. 
Applied econometrics, known to aficionados as 'metrics, is the original data science. 'Metrics encompasses the statistical methods economists use to untangle cause and effect in human affairs. Through accessible discussion and with a dose of kung fu–themed humor, Mastering 'Metrics presents the essential tools of econometric research and demonstrates why econometrics is exciting and useful. 
The five most valuable econometric methods, or what the authors call the Furious Five--random assignment, regression, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity designs, and differences in differences--are illustrated through well-crafted real-world examples (vetted for awesomeness by Kung Fu Panda's Jade Palace). Does health insurance make you healthier? Randomized experiments provide answers. Are expensive private colleges and selective public high schools better than more pedestrian institutions? Regression analysis and a regression discontinuity design reveal the surprising truth. When private banks teeter, and depositors take their money and run, should central banks step in to save them? Differences-in-differences analysis of a Depression-era banking crisis offers a response. Could arresting O. J. Simpson have saved his ex-wife's life? Instrumental variables methods instruct law enforcement authorities in how best to respond to domestic abuse. 
Wielding econometric tools with skill and confidence, Mastering 'Metrics uses data and statistics to illuminate the path from cause to effect.
Shows why econometrics is important
Explains econometric research through humorous and accessible discussion
Outlines empirical methods central to modern econometric practice
Works through interesting and relevant real-world examples

Nick Chater's online psychology course

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, is currently teaching a MOOC called "The Mind is Flat: the Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology". The current edition of the course started last week but you can still sign up for free.