While an economist by background, my research is eclectic, interdisciplinary and constantly evolving. In recent times much of my focus has been on the 'economics of happiness'. The premise of this work is based on the idea that focusing on income and by extension economic growth will give a very incomplete picture of welfare and a desire to provide policy relevant advice when it comes to enhancing societal well-being. My work in this area typically involves combining large annual household surveys (e.g. the UKHLS) with a diverse array of environmental datasets capturing, amongst other things, neighbourhood measures of deprivation (income, local labour market conditions etc.), air quality and ethnic diversity. I then develop panel-data models often coupled with quasi-experimental methods in order to explore the influence of factors such as immigration, diet, air pollution, health and social capital for people’s self-reported or subjective well-being as well as the role of status concerns (e.g. how we compare to relevant others). Of particular relevance in the current political climate, I lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers on a project funded by the Nuffield foundation concerned with determining the relationship between immigration and people's self-reported well-being. Some of our initial findings are summarised here: https://theconversation.com/how-immigration-can-make-some-uk-born-residents-feel-worse-off-even-if-they-arent-new-research-122681.
Apart from a quest to better understand the factors that can improve our quality of life, more recently I have begun to explore the potential of using perceived well-being as a framework to help us better understand social and economic behaviour. This ranges from Brexit and labour market hysteresis to farmers reluctance to adopt certain efficiency-enhancing farm practices.
I also have a keen interest in agricultural economics. My previous research in this area has illustrated the importance of considering non-monetary drivers such as non-pecuniary benefits, productivist attitudes and risk aversion when seeking to understand and predict farmers’ behaviour. Related to this work, I am currently a Co-I on an ambitious interdisciplinary project, I Know Food, funded by the Global Food Security Programme addressing the topic of food system resilience. Within this project, I am looking at, among other things, the application of key insights from social psychology and behavioural economics in encouraging (nudging) conservation farm practices and technology uptake.
Finally, I have worked on a number of issues in the environmental and resource economics domain. This includes the effect of weather on crime, the valuation of environmental goods and services and the determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. While I principally use quantitative methods, I also dabble with qualitative research methods on various projects mostly led by talented postgraduate students.
I currently supervise a number of PhD and postdoctoral researchers working on areas related to the work described above. I am interested in hearing from enthusiastic potential PhD students (or anyone else for that matter) interested in working in any of these areas. The funkier the idea the better!