In recent times much of my focus has been on the 'economics of happiness’. My starting point in this research is the use of subjective well-being indicators collected in large-scale longitudinal household surveys as a proxy utility indicator. I then generally develop panel-data models sometimes coupled with quasi-experimental methods in order to explore the influence of factors as diverse as diet and immigration for people’s self-reported well-being. Of particular relevance in the current political climate, I am especially interested in using subjective as opposed to economic indicators of well-being as a means to better understand the sharp polarisation on immigration issues. Some examples of my research on this topic can be seen here and here.
Another recent strand of my happiness related research is looking at the mental health consequences associated with Covid-19 (e.g. vaccinations and lockdowns) as well as spatial heterogeneity in impact.
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.
After my PhD, I worked as an agricultural economist for a semi-state authority in the agri-food sector for a number of years and still maintain an active research programme in the environmental and agricultural sector, particularly surrounding farmer behaviour and environmental preferences. My previous research relating to farmer behaviour 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, particularly behaviour that seems financially irrational (e.g. when faced with new efficiency enhancing technologies or policy changes). Following on from this work, I have recently become interested in applying the insights from social psychology and behavioural economics in encouraging (nudging) conservation farm practices and technology uptake. A good overall illustration of some of this work can be obtained here.
Finally, I have worked on (and continue to do so to varying degrees) a number of issues in the environmental and resource economics domain. This work is varied and involves among other things the effect of weather on crime, the valuation of environmental goods and services, environmental attitudes and the impact of environmental policies such as Emission Trading Schemes for firm behaviours. While I principally use quantitative methods, I also dabble with qualitative research methods on various projects mostly in the environmental/agricultural sector and generally 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!