UoA 34: Economics and Econometrics

The key strategic aim of the UCL Economics Department is to continue to be one of the leading Departments of Economics in the world, always improving its position and running vigorous and diverse research programmes at the cutting edge of the discipline. To do this, it has been essential to attract and retain outstanding internationally mobile academic staff at all levels. The Department provides a stimulating intellectual and supportive environment, nurturing younger research staff, recruiting at both the junior and senior levels and engaging in regular interactions (research collaboration; reciprocal visiting posts; placing PhD students; attracting visiting research students) with top Economics departments worldwide. The research environment is structured to encourage interaction within and between major areas of the discipline, and to promote both fundamental research of the highest quality and research that informs the important public policy issues of the day.

Key features of the Department’s general strategy are:

  • Major Research Centres that maintain an effective research environment and infrastructure, based around major research groups funded by regular and longer term research grants (ESRC, Leverhulme etc.).
  • International Interaction through visitors, a high intensity of international conference participation, European Research and Training Networks, major involvement in editorial work for leading academic journals, staff and student recruitment and development.
  • Policy Relevance, Advice and User Engagement, which are key features of the research of many staff members and of the research centres to which they are attached.
  • Career Development for Junior Staff, provided through a well structured career development programme for junior staff, including a mentoring programme and continual interaction within and across research groups.
  • A Well Resourced State-of-the-Art PhD Programme with a significant teaching component, including PhD specific courses in theory, econometrics, core skills and on research methods; with opportunities for international exchange, major interactions with research centres and a rigorous training programme through master classes from experts.

UCL is a world class multi-faculty university which has a strong commitment to research excellence. In the RAE assessment period, UCL has strongly supported the development of economics research at UCL, through its recruitment of international research figures (Armstrong, Bhaskar, Cripps, Laroque, Robin, Spiegler), through rapid internal promotion of skilled researchers to senior positions (Banks, Dustmann, Griffith, Huck) and through the competitive recruitment of early-stage researchers (for example, at various stages through the RAE period, Carneiro, Lee, Rasul, Rosen) who hold very significant promise for the future or have been rapidly promoted. UCL offers an effective research administration infrastructure, coupled with excellent library and computing facilities.  After operating split-site from 2000 to 2006, the Department has moved to a single location (Drayton House), which has facilities for its research centres, economics research laboratories and accommodation for visitors and research students.  The value of interdisciplinary research is recognised by UCL and there are a wide range of established disciplines. Economics has particular links with Psychology, Mathematics, Statistics, Laws, and Epidemiology and Public Health.

The Department’s main source of research funding is research centre funding as well as numerous research grants. Seven centres are either hosted by the Department or are directed by senior members of the Department and fund numerous staff. Some of these are run with the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an organisation with whom a number of members of the Department have close links. These centres are described in more detail below. The research centres play a crucial role in the Department’s overall research strategy. While the Department provides the basic infrastructure, centres provide core funding for developing research opportunities over a reasonably long time horizon. In addition many of the junior positions are funded by the research centres, allowing us to have a sustainable policy of greatly reduced teaching loads for junior staff, thereby enabling us to attract those with high research potential and to foster their research development.

The Department has been very successful in attracting grants to fund research. The total amount raised in grants over the assessment period, where members of the Department are Principal Investigators, amounts to over £20 million.

This funding has been secured from a number of sources, including the research councils, charities, UK government grants and through the European Union. A significant part of this funding is used to fund large initiatives with broad research agendas and significant public policy influence. This includes the ESRC research centre at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the Leverhulme (and now ESRC) Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice (CEMMAP), the Centre for Economic Research on Ageing (undertaking interdisciplinary research with UCL Epidemiology), the Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policies and the Centre for Research and Analysis of  Migration (among others).

In addition many smaller grants have been obtained by UCL researchers, including junior researchers.  These often complement the larger research grants and the research centre funding. Of the total grant income £6.3 million is administered through UCL, as shown in RA4. A further significant proportion of the total £20 million research income comes into UCL from the research centres to buy out teaching time. This has been a key strategy of the Department to facilitate growth by supporting further junior positions and allows us to maintain low teaching loads for research active staff in a sustainable fashion. During the RAE assessment period buyout income of just over £4 million from IFS and CeMMAP and around £420,000 from the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at LSE was secured. Thus, including this £4.4 million in teaching buyouts for research, which does not appear in RA4 because it comes from grants not administered directly from UCL, the Department attracted £10.7 million in external funding to UCL in the relevant period. The remaining amount of around £10 million raised has been used by members of the Economics Department to fund research through the IFS and the CEP, an important means by which UCL researchers broaden the influence and dissemination of research in policy relevant ways, while maintaining the highest possible academic standards of research.

Thanks to its financial resources, the Department has excellent infrastructure in place to support its high quality research.  There is real benefit, especially to research students, with the consolidation of the Department into a single location. The Department places a high value upon integrating research students and early stage researchers and giving them the right kind of facilities for proper post-graduate and career development.  This involves accommodation, access to research materials and data, and high quality information technology. In the Department we have 55 desks for research students, 45 of which are fully equipped with a PC and essential software.

The Department has also secured a large SRIF grant to update its central computing facilities. We have implemented a multi-node state-of-the-art high-performance Linux cluster with centrally managed software and a large storage area network. Through JIF funding the Department was able to build its experimental laboratory which houses 29 movable PCs and screens to guarantee privacy during experiments.  The lab is used by various leading figures (from the Department and academic visitors) to run experiments for economic analysis. It is also used for CeMMAP masterclasses that offer training opportunities in quantitative methods for academics, students, policymakers and practitioners.

During the RAE assessment period, a significant fraction of the Department’s research activities have been organised around the following research centres:

  • Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy, co-directed by Blundell, Attanasio, Griffith and Meghir (hosted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS));
  • Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution (ELSE) directed by Armstrong;
  • Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice (CeMMAP), funded by the Leverhulme Trust (until 2007) and the ESRC (from 2007) and directed by Chesher (hosted by the Department and the IFS);
  • Centre for the Economics of Education (CEE), directed by Machin and funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (hosted by the IFS, Institute of Education and the CEP);
  • Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) directed by Dustmann, funded by ESRC and Anglo-German Foundation;
  • Centre for Economic Research on Ageing (CERA) directed by Banks (hosted by the IFS);
  • Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policies (EDePo) directed by Attanasio (co-hosted by UCL and the IFS).

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Economics & Econometrics (pdf 144Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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