Monday, May 09, 2016

4 PhD Studentships in Economics and/or Behavioural Science at Stirling Management School

Post Details
4 PhD Studentships in Economics and/or Behavioural Science at Stirling Management School 
Full-Time with Start Date on October 1st 2016 (with some flexibility)
Closing date: 5pm on 8th July 2016
Salary: EU Fees plus £14,000 per annum

The Post
Description of Duties

Project 1:  Understanding career inequality in Scotland and the UK

This 3-year PhD studentship, jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Skills Development Scotland (SDS), is targeted at a highly motivated individual who wishes to work with our team on a study on a project entitled "A Lifespan Approach to Understanding Equality of Opportunity and Career Development in Scotland and the UK" . 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. This project will utilise the substantial cohort study data available in the UK to examine the drivers of labour market inequality across the UK with a particular focus on Scotland and differences between Scotland and RUK. The project will apply longitudinal data analysis techniques to examine gender, ethnic, disability, religious and socioeconomic differences in key education and employment outcomes across the life-cycle. We will utilise the National Child Development Cohort Study, British Cohort Study, Understanding Society and other large UK data-sets. We will examine the extent to which inequalities interact with the development of a wide range of hard and soft skills throughout childhood and adolescence, providing key information on the potential importance of such skills to labour market outcomes across the lifespan. We will publish the findings in a range of academic journals in economics, psychology and wider social science. The work builds on our previous SDS-funded project which has published several papers in top-tier journals examining the role of mental health and non-cognitive traits in shaping labour market outcomes. We will continue to disseminate the findings of this work to policy-makers and the wider public through our active social media and workshop programme and in conjunction with the SDS. The PhD student will be guided to work within this project but given substantial support to develop their own independent ideas within the overall topic.

Eligibility: Please see details of whether you are eligible to apply on the relevant ESRC website 

Project 2: Microsimulation models of devolved taxes and benefits

This project seeks to develop and enhance models of devolved taxes and benefits across the UK. The intention is to calibrate the effects of the new tax and welfare powers that have been devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland. It may also involve analysis of the new fiscal powers that may be devolved to the Welsh Assembly and to English local government.  We seek a suitable PhD candidate with strong quantitative skills and an understanding of UK fiscal structures who would enhance our existing micro-simulation models for the purpose of policy simulation and forecasting. This would require an economics graduate with a masters degree that includes a strong element of econometric analysis. The applicant will be involved in our developing collaboration with a number of institutions outside Scotland which have an established track record in fiscal analysis, including the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Project 3: Behavioural Economics and Retirement Saving

This project, co-funded by Prudential and Stirling, examines the behavioural economics of retirement saving in the UK, with particular reference to retirement preparedness in the context of the recent changes in annuities regulations in the UK. The programme of research will progress over three years. The first year will be devoted to the development of a comprehensive review of the behavioural economics literature on retirement saving, annuities and related issues, with particular reference to the policy implications of the recent change to the annuities regulation in the UK. The second year will be devoted to the development of research papers examining the impact of these changes on retirement behaviour in the UK, and the development of survey instruments to examine a range of retirement-related behaviours. The third year will be devoted to the production of a series of papers on retirement behaviour in the UK pre and post the annuities reforms. This research has the potential for high academic impact, given the uniqueness of the policy change, and the potential for the construction of new data in this area.

The project addresses a strong business need for companies to understand how consumers are using the new freedoms available to them since the reform of annuities in 2015. Consumers are now free to cash in their pension pots as lump sums at retirement, rather than purchasing an annuity. This is a radical change that has sent shock-waves throughout the industry and it comes with a range of complex potential costs and benefits for both consumers and firms. Objective information on how consumers are using these freedoms would heavily inform the public debate, as well as allowing the large providers to reposition their products and long-run strategic plans to adapt to this very different market reality. The student will be supervised by Professor Liam Delaney and Michael Daly. The successful candidate will be located in the division of Economics, and will also be part of the Stirling Management School behavioural science research centre. 

Project 4: Risk Perceptions, Risk Communication Strategies, and Consumer Behaviours

This 3-year Ph.D. studentship is jointly funded by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and University of Stirling.  We seek highly motivated individuals with a keen interest in working with our team on a project titled “Risk Perceptions, Risk Communication Strategies, and Consumer Behaviours”. This Ph.D. research is motivated by the need to investigate the effectiveness of risk communication strategies, such as public awareness campaigns, that aim to motivate positive behaviour change towards best food-handling practices to prevent foodborne cases. This is a key priority area due to the persistent food safety issues and significant health, societal, and economic costs of foodborne cases to the country in each year.

The research will use a unique applied microeconometrics framework that integrates approaches from the Stated Preference Elicitation with insights from the behavioural economics (e.g., nudges, framing). This will lead to a deeper understanding of consumers’ risk perceptions, attitudes, and preferences for different forms of food safety information delivery.  The study will contribute to academia and policy by investigating a current public policy issue in a real-setting by developing an information campaign with FSS in Scotland.  Using various campaign treatments and consumer choice surveys, we will compare a range of communication strategies.  The rich consumer choice and behavioural data will be analysed using various advanced econometric choice models that accommodate for individual differences. The modelling framework will be based on consumer choice theory and random utility theory and will be augmented with behavioural insights and individual attitudes.

The student will be supervised by Dr Erdem and Dr Campbell from the Economics Division, and Dr Jacqui McElhiney from Food Standards Scotland. Erdem has expertise in food safety economics, eliciting consumer perceptions, preferences and decision-making. She has published several papers in internationally renowned journals and has successful Ph.D. supervision (completed and ongoing). Campbell has expertise in economic evaluation in agricultural and food economics, particularly in choice modelling. He has an extensive experience in supervising PhDs. McElhiney is the Head of Food Protection Science and Surveillance Branch at FSS. She will provide technical expertise as appropriate along with colleagues in FSS. We expect the student to make regular visits to FSS to access relevant data and resources, as well as to foster knowledge exchange. The Ph.D. student will take at least 3 graduate (or equivalent) level modules during their Ph.D.: either internal (e.g., the econometric course(s), behavioural economics and statistics modules within the School); or from the SGPE or targeted summer school modules. Additionally, they will receive training from both Erdem and Campbell on the econometric methods during their Ph.D.

Essential Criteria
Strong interest in research relevant to the project.  
MSc training in economics, behavioural science or relevant social science disciplines, including evidence of (advanced) econometrics/statistics training experience.
Econometric modelling skills and proficiency in a statistical package, such as STATA, SPSS, R or OxMetrics.
Excellent written and oral communication skills.
Ability to work individually and autonomously as well as the potential to work as part of a team. 

Desirable Criteria
Specific knowledge of techniques for panel data analysis. 
Existing experience directly in the area of the topic applied.
Evidence of active engagement with the area of the topic applied 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 centre at Stirling are available at the website below. We strongly encourage candidates to explore this website.

About Stirling Economics Division
The Economics Division at The University of Stirling Management School is committed to the pursuit of excellence in both research and teaching.  Our Division is a lively community with friendly and approachable academic staff.  We consistently perform well in national rankings and league tables. For example:
  • We are ranked 3rd in Scotland (2016 Guardian League Table)
  • We scored 91 for course satisfaction (2016 Guardian League Table)
  • The University was also placed in top 5 in the UK for being a “best-value” University (Telegraph, 2012). 
  • Our School is ranked among the top 25 institutions in the UK for Business and Management (The Higher Education Research Excellence Framework, 2014).
Our staff have undertaken prominent work in a number of key areas:
  • Environmental, Resource and Energy Economics,
  • Public Health Economics
  • Behavioural Economics
  • Work, Wellbeing, and Ageing
We are heavily involved in policy-relevant work, have strong links with the business community and have a strong culture of collaboration.
For more information about research in Economics, visit

How to apply: 
Applicants should send a 2-page CV, academic transcripts and a 2-page cover letter to before July 8th 2016 at 5pm. The cover letter should set out which project you are applying for and why you are interested in the project and in pursuing a PhD at Stirling. Applicants will be notified in mid-July. We also require proof of English language proficiency (if English is not your first language). Please indicate the name and contact details of two referees.

Informal enquires should be addressed to
Professor Liam Delaney (Projects 1 and 3)
Professor David Bell (Project 2)
Dr. Seda Erdem (Project 4

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