Saturday, July 20, 2013

3 year ESRC-SDS funded PhD Studentship Well-Being and Unemployment

Link to formal advertisement to follow during the week: 

Post Details
PhD Studentship Stirling Management School
Full-Time with Start Date on October 1st 2013 (with some flexibility)
Closing date: midnight on 31st August 2013
Salary: Fees plus 13k per annum

The Post
This 3-year PhD studentship, jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Skills Development Scotland, is targeted at a highly motivated individual who wishes to work with our team on a study on the interaction of psychological and economic outcomes during the period of transition of education to the labour market. The successful applicant will conduct their PhD either in Economics or in Business and Management working with Professor Liam Delaney and Dr. Michael Daly of the Stirling Management School Behavioural Science Centre.

Description of Duties
We aim to develop and supervise the implementation of a programme of research to identify the welfare impact of the transition from education to work and how well-being and decision-making strategies explain heterogeneity in employment outcomes. This project will: (i) review the youth labour market including the changing nature of job opportunities and employment and training support, (ii) specify how core components of the well-being of young people are influenced by unemployment and engagement with labour market activation schemes. Furthermore, we will identify: (iii) the individual differences in well-being and personality traits that determine engagement with activation services and entry to the labour force, and (iv) approaches that could be used to diminish the welfare effects of the transition to work and facilitate successful engagement in job-search and with skill development services.

This study will capitalize on several pre-existing publically available datasets to meet the project aims. A critical mass of large (N > 10,000) scale representative databases have recently collected detailed information about the psychological well-being, personality and employment characteristics (e.g. job search duration) of individuals residing in Scotland and across the UK. We will focus on the Annual Population Survey (cross-sectional survey of 165,000 UK residents), Understanding Society (longitudinal study of 40,000 UK residents), and the National Child Development Study (prospective cohort study of over 17,000 UK residents) data available through the Economic and Social Data Service. These datasets offer rich opportunities to examine the welfare effects of youth unemployment and behavioural factors which underlie heterogeneity in the transition from education to employment in Scotland.

The projects will develop along three strands. The first strand of the project examines the changing youth labour market and the effects of this period of transition on the perceptions and well-being of young people. Well-being is a complex multilayered construct, with concepts such as happiness, eudaimonia, life satisfaction, and distress which are often used interchangeably but, in actuality, expressing many different ideas (Linley, Joseph, Harrington, & Wood, 2006). The aim of this section of the project will be to examine the extent to which these different concepts can be used to increase our understanding of the well-being effects of the transition from education to work. Furthermore, the impact of the recent recession on perceptions of employment prospects and well-being will be a core topic of investigation.

The second strand of the project attempts to examine the bi-directional nature of the causality between the transition from education to work and well-being. There are two large bodies of literature, one dominant literature that quantifies the effect of unemployment on well-being, but also an increasingly important literature examining the effect of well-being throughout the life-cycle on employment outcomes (e.g. Goodman et al., 2011). This strand of the project will examine a very plausible and understudied pathway, namely that people with a vulnerability to distress have a higher propensity to fail in transitioning from education to work. For this group, the experience of unemployment is particularly stressful and can further exacerbate mental health problems. We will employ longitudinal analyses to better understand the reciprocal relationship between well-being and the duration of the transition from education to work.

The third strand of the project develops the implications of these results for labour market policy for young people in Scotland. To the extent that stress and depression influence economic activity and have an interconnection, the importance of understanding how this interacts with the social context of a modern welfare state is clear.

The main targeted outcomes will be high-impact scientific publications in the areas of economics, psychology, and management.

Specific outputs will include: 1) An empirical paper detailing the changing labour market prospects for young people and how the period between education and employment affects the well-being of those making this transition, 2) A paper which specifies the differential effect of personality and well-being as measured using a diverse set of measures on job search, engagement with apprenticeships/activation programs and successful entry into employment, 3) An overview paper which examines how an understanding and consideration of well-being and personality could act to smooth the transition from education to employment. Core papers from this work will be of interest to field journals in Economics such as the Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, Psychology journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology and Psychological Science are realistic targets for this work.

The PhD student will receive extensive training in the use of novel methods in survey methodology as they apply to economics, psychology and management research, and training in how researchers can make effective use of administrative and survey data. High-frequency panel studies being conducted in The Netherlands, Ireland, Canada and the USA, will serve as an international training laboratory where the student can capitalise on advanced survey and statistical training to test novel ideas that require new measures such as anchoring vignettes, experimental survey data, bio-markers and measures of well-being and preference parameters. The study team run several graduate courses in advanced behavioural science theory, methods and statistical analyses which the student can audit. The team also contribute to the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Summer School. The student will gain essential skills from attending these and other methodological summer school courses. This training will enable the student to apply econometric models to understand the effects of unemployment utilising rich secondary data surveys such as the Understanding Society and National Child Development Study data. This will enable a comprehensive assessment of the extent and nature of the well-being effect of unemployment.

Essential Criteria
Strong intrinsic interest in research at the intersection of Economics and Psychology.
Ability and willingness to contribute to the intellectual life of the center including participating in seminars, journal clubs, group discussions and related activity.
An Honours degree, or equivalent professional qualification.
Excellent written and oral communication skills.
Ability to work individually and autonomously as well as potential to work as part of a team.
Some proficiency in STATA and/or SPSS.

Desirable Criteria
Postgraduate training in Economics or Psychology with a strong emphasis on statistics.
Specific knowledge of techniques for panel data analysis.
Existing experience directly in the area of statistical analysis of determinants of psychological welfare.
Evidence of active engagement with the area of behavioural science including student publications, internship experience and social media activity.
Experience of preparing research papers.

Additional Information
About the Stirling Management School Behavioural Science Center
Formed in 2012, the Behavioural Sciences Centre is an interdisciplinary research centre which brings together approaches from economics and psychology 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. Full details of the work of the behavioural science center at Stirling are available at the website below. We strongly encourage candidates to explore this website.

Informal enquires should be addressed to Professor Liam

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