GE2017 and Inequality in Higher Education

By Dr Oana Borcan

As parties tour the country parading their shiny manifestos and skilfully dodging the tough questions from the press, much confusion ensues over the problem of inequality in higher education and how best to address it. On the one hand, Labour and others criticised the Tories for the hike in tuition fees over the past years and for scrapping the £3500 non-repayable maintenance grants for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in August 2016. The implication, as critics suggested, would be that disadvantaged students would be laden with the largest debts, potentially deterring university entry in this group and deepening income inequality. On the other hand, we see the Conservative government raving about the current record number of disadvantaged students in higher education and warning that a Brexit in the hands of other parties will ruin this progress. In defending their policies, the Tories seem to focus more on absolute numbers and Labour, Lib-Dems, Greens and UKIP more on the relative performance of disadvantaged students; In this blog I will (1) go over the numbers and (2) the proposals and, finally (3) discuss the evidence relating to the effectiveness of proposed policies. While I focus here on policies related to the equality of opportunity in higher education, other proposed education policies can be analysed in a similar way.

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“Last-Ups” Advantage in Baseball: An Example of Biases and Persistent Beliefs.

By Prof. Ted Turocy

In the World Baseball Classic currently underway, Major League Baseball is testing out a rule change designed to resolve tied games more rapidly. When a game goes into the eleventh inning (the second extra inning), each team will begin their turn at bat with runners already on first and second bases. For readers not familiar with baseball, this will make scoring easier, and therefore ties should be broken more quickly.  This rule has been used in international baseball for a few years (and amateur players may have encountered a version of it in local baseball and softball leagues as well).

Ted Turocy - Baseball 1

Prof. Ted Turocy – Behavioural Economist and Baseballer

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Meet the Lecturers: Steve Davies

Davies, Steve

Steve Davies, pensive as usual!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?

I am an industrial economist who specialises in competition policy. So I’m mainly an applied micro economist but to be honest I’m interested in nearly all areas of economics. I have been a Professor at UEA now for more than a quarter of a century, and during that time have seen us move up the national and international league table. It’s fair to say that we really are one of the leading Economics departments in the UK and beyond. I’m proud of that achievement.

I have tried to devote my research and teaching to subjects that are directly relevant to the real world – particularly competition economics.  For most of this century I have been an adviser to the UK’s competition agencies, notably the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition and Markets Authority.  I have also had a similar advisory role to the OECD in Paris, and I have worked on many projects down the years for many of the world’s top agencies: the European Commission, the World Bank and the UN. I believe that these outside roles have provided me and my students with a direct line to policy and policymakers – this is important to me and often beneficial to their career prospects.

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Meet the Lecturers: Odile Poulsen



Odile Poulsen – Behavioural Economist and Avid Knitter

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?

I did my Ph.D in Growth Theory at the University of Essex, an area of Macroeconomics which is very dominated by the Neo-Classical paradigm. I am now more interested in Behavioral Economics because it is not restricted by this paradigm, and most research in this area seems more realistic and feels closer to real world interactions.

What do you think makes studying Economics at UEA special?

There is a very good atmosphere in the school, the staff are passionate about teaching and really care about the students… Also we teach Behavioral Economics which is a bit of a hot topic at the moment! 🙂

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Timmy Tiptoes and the Tale of Costly Punishment

By Dr David Hugh-Jones

timmy-tiptoes-2This post is about a paper of mine with Carlo Perroni of Warwick University, The Logic of Costly Punishment Reversed. It has just been accepted in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (ungated version at my website).

The germ for this paper came in 2006 at Northwestern University, in a chat with my game theory lecturer, Christoph Kuzmics. He mentioned to me that he was working on evolutionary game theory explanations for costly punishment.

The idea of costly punishment is that people are prepared to pay costs so as to punish bad behaviour or take revenge. For example, if a guy starts a bar fight because you spilled his beer, or someone lectures you for leaving litter, that might be costly punishment. Why is that important? Well, all societies need to maintain order – to prevent crime and ensure that people contribute to community goods. Modern societies have the machinery of the state –  the policeman and the tax office – to do this.  But throughout history, most people have lived in small societies without states; and there are many kinds of bad behaviour, like littering, that it would be too expensive or intrusive to control using the state’s coercive power. Instead,  people in the group must punish bad behaviour, either verbally, financially or physically.

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Meet the Lecturers: Matt Aldrich


Matt Aldrich: Intrepid Labour Economist

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?

Throughout my A-levels I planned to study engineering at university; a late change of heart (because I enjoyed economics more than physics!) led me to studying Economics here at UEA. I was inspired by a research project in a 3rd year module – Labour Economics –  which I chose to do on job prospects for graduates,  to stay on for a Masters and a PhD, both here at UEA, in order to research the graduate labour market in more detail. I was lucky enough to get a lectureship here when my PhD finished. My main interests in economics are the labour market, social policy and welfare. I’m currently doing research into fatherhood which covers all three of these areas!
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Meet the Lecturers: Mike Brock


Mike Brock – Economist, Environmentalist, Baker!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?

I am originally from the West of England and came to Norwich in 2007. Having completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UEA, I began as a lecturer in August 2014.

My main interests are in behavioural and environmental economics.  In particular, I focus upon looking at how and why people attach value to the environment and how we can use behavioural economics to try and help people to act in more environmentally sustainable ways.

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