On The Community of Advantage

By Professor Robert Sugden

For decades, economists have been known for their commitment to theories that treat ordinary consumers and workers as highly rational decision-makers.  Until recently, the idea that psychological ideas and research methods could be useful in economics was not taken seriously.  This psychological approach, now called ‘behavioural economics’, was pioneered by a few groups of wayward economists in the 1980s.  But this is now one of the fastest-growing and most fashionable fields of economics.  The winner of the 2017 economics Nobel Prize, Richard Thaler, is a behavioural economist who goes out of his way to distance himself from traditional economics.  For example, he has written: ‘If you look at economics textbooks, you will learn that homo economicus [i.e. the human being as represented in economics] can think like Albert Einstein, store as much memory as IBM’s Deep Blue, and exercise the willpower of Mahatma Gandhi.  Really.  But the folks we know are not like that.  Real people have trouble with long division if they don’t have a calculator, sometimes forget their spouse’s birthday, and have a hangover on New Year’s Day.’  Thaler’s claim is that behavioural economics breaks away from these textbook abstractions.

Community of Advantage

Continue reading


A “Latte Levy” – Why and how? What does behavioural economics suggest?

By Anders Poulsen

Two and a half billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK, but less than 1 in 400 – just 0.25% – are recycled. Due to the environmental issues, some MPs are calling for a “latte levy” of 25p per cup (see https://tinyurl.com/ya89lnm6).

Would this work? More generally, how can insights from behavioural economics help to reduce the number of cups that are thrown away?


Continue reading

Family friendly working

By Matthew Aldrich

As a first-time expectant father, I will soon be taking statutory paid paternity leave to help out at home wherever I can, through those early tiring weeks after our baby is born. As an academic, I also have a relatively flexible job, and will be able to adjust my working pattern so that my wife can go back to work and continue her career after maternity leave. My research on Modern Fatherhood makes me realise how lucky I am to have access to such family friendly working. Many are not so lucky, and fathers in particular do not have the opportunity to re-balance their work and family life, should they want to.


Continue reading

Run or don’t run, there is no try

By Peter Dawson, Emike Nasamu, and Theodore L. Turocy

The new year is a time of new beginnings. Perhaps at some point over the last few days, you’ve found yourself engaging in the traditional custom of the New Year’s Resolution. A common resolution is improving health and physical fitness; if you’re reading this, the odds are fairly good you’re hoping to be more active in 2018. Equally, the odds are fairly good that you may still be feeling the aftereffects of a bit too much merrymaking during the holiday season. Either way, that little voice in your head might be asking: “Won’t my time be slower than I’d like? Maybe I should start doing something on my own, and join a group activity later.”


Continue reading

Should I own or should I lease? An economist’s thoughts on land reform in Kazakhstan.

By Dr Emiliya Lazarova, Head of School


If the government plans to give you the possibility to own the land that you have been farming for generations, would you go on the street in protest, facing the risk of detention? You may think this is a rhetorical question, but that is exactly what happened in Kazakhstan last year. The government announced a reform that would allow auction of agricultural land, which until then could only be leased.  In response to the protests, the government put the reform on a five-year hold and started a consultation process, and suggested that the main reason for the moratorium is to update the country cadastre.[1]  So why did the farmers protest? To understand this, I suggest we look more closely at what this reform was really about: namely the redistribution of property rights.

Continue reading

Athena Swan, Running, and Charitable Giving

By Dr Emiliya Lazarova, Head of School


We, the UEA School of Economics, are the only Economics department in England to have received the Athena Swan Bronze Award. The significance of this achievement to us as a group and the wider discipline could not be understood better than in the context of the recent discussion on gender imbalance in economics in the popular press (See; Where are all the women in Economics?).

Continue reading

Catalonia versus Spain: playing the game without communication

By Dr Jack Fosten


The dust has far from settled after a week in Catalonia which has sent shockwaves around the world. Events began on Sunday 1st October (termed “1-O” by the Catalans) with a banned referendum brought about by the separatist-leaning Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in defiance of orders from the Spanish government. Rather than permitting the vote to proceed peacefully in the same way as a similar referendum held in November 2014, the strategy of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government was to use police force to shut down the referendum and prevent Catalans from voting. What followed were ugly scenes, beamed across the globe, with heavy-handed police beatings dealt out to civilians in order to block off polling stations and remove ballot boxes.

Continue reading