In recent times much of my focus has been on the 'economics of happiness’ and this work typically involves using indicators of subjective well-being 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 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. I am also involved in a project exploring the mental health consequences associated with Covid-19 summarised here. Some examples of my recent work in this area can be seen here and here.
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. 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 (e.g. when faced with new farm practices or policy changes). Following on from this work, I am currently a Co-I on an ambitious interdisciplinary project, I Know Food, funded by the Global Food Security Programme. Along with my collaborator on this work (Neel Ocean), we have conducted a number of randomised survey experiments with farmers 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. 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 determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. 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!