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Steptoe A.,University College London | Breeze E.,University College London | Banks J.,Institute for Fiscal Studies | Nazroo J.,University of Manchester
International Journal of Epidemiology | Year: 2013

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) is a panel study of a representative cohort of men and women living in England aged ≥50 years. It was designed as a sister study to the Health and Retirement Study in the USA and is multidisciplinary in orientation, involving the collection of economic, social, psychological, cognitive, health, biological and genetic data. The study commenced in 2002, and the sample has been followed up every 2 years. Data are collected using computer-assisted personal interviews and self-completion questionnaires, with additional nurse visits for the assessment of biomarkers every 4 years. The original sample consisted of 11 391 members ranging in age from 50 to 100 years. ELSA is harmonized with ageing studies in other countries to facilitate international comparisons, and is linked to financial and health registry data. The data set is openly available to researchers and analysts soon after collection (http://www.esds.ac.uk/longitudinal/access/elsa/l5050.asp). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association © The Author 2012; all rights reserved. Source

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 353.07K | Year: 2016

The aim of the proposed research is to better understand individual behaviour in food markets, and to provide new evidence on the potential impacts of proposed policy interventions that seek to improve nutritional outcomes. Our focus will be on understanding what form preferences take and what factors might influence preference formation. We will extend economic models of food choice to reflect potential non-standard features of behaviour such as habits and temptation and we will also study the effects on decision making of advertising. To study habit formation, we will use food purchasing information on migrants and on children and their parents. We will study how we can incorporate behavioural biases such as temptation and self-control into the standard economic models of demand and use information on purchases people make for immediate and future consumption to estimate these models. We will also allow for potentially persuasive effects of advertising on consumers choices. Finally, we will use these new models of demand to carry out ex ante policy evaluation of reforms that change relative prices or costs to study how the existence of habits formation or behavioural biases effect the potential impact of policy reform. When considering such policy counterfactuals we will analyse firm behaviour, accounting for dynamic strategic interactions between firms, in order to assess the long run impact on both demand and supply of government policy (such as taxes).

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 279.49K | Year: 2014

Understanding the value of research is central to many public policy questions, including how much to fund public research agencies, how to value the output of public and private research enterprises, and how to maximize the output of the research sector. Nowhere is this more important than in the area of health and ageing research. This project will contribute to our understanding of these issues by creating a network of researchers working on related topics, by directly supporting relevant research and by encouraging a new wave of researchers to work on these topics. For some time, researchers have been interested in the value of health research: both basic research on biomedical processes and behavioral/social research focused on health and aging. Estimating the value of medical research has been difficult, however. Data limitations make research challenging, there can be disagreement across or within disciplines on the appropriate theoretical and methodological frameworks to adopt, and few researchers have a broad enough background across the relevant areas to conduct the necessary applied research. We propose to organize a network of primarily US and UK-based researchers who are interested in the impact and design of health research, to gather this group regularly, and to stimulate new research on the value of health research from that group and related others. We will gather people from diverse backgrounds, including many subdisciplines of economics as well as epidemiology, medical research, and other social sciences. The group will be jointly organized under the auspices of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the United States and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) in the United Kingdom. Project activities will consist of regular gatherings of the research network; seed grants for high risk, interdisciplinary projects, especially oriented to younger researchers; and educational activities open to researchers inside and outside of the network. In addition to the specific Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators identified in this ESRC proposal, a large network of other investigators from the US are not identified explicitly in this application other than through their listing in the case for support. These researchers, and their associated network activities, are to be funded by the National Institute of Ageing, and the network as a whole will be jointly coordinated by the NBER Principal Investigator (Cutler) and his IFS counterpart (Banks).

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 206.85K | Year: 2014

The project will focus on three broad areas of policing: (i) it will measure the quality of police officer recruits using an innovative data set, and examine how this quality is affected by local labour market conditions, such as wages in alternative occupations in the local area. This anonymised data set provides pass/fail marks and test scores for a variety of assessment procedures used during the compulsory national assessment of would-be recruits to the police service, matched to individual characteristics. This data set has been provided to us by NPIA - now the national College of Policing. The project will match this data set to further local police area characteristics. This research will directly impact on several questions relating to public pay - the trade-off between pay and quality of public service; the case, if any, for greater local pay variation in the public sector; and so on. (ii) it will examine the factors that affect the retention rates of police officers. The primary focus will be on exits into retirement (since exit rates of police officers are low until their late-forties); on the management of ill-health (early retirement); and of what career choices are made by retired police officers. This will be of direct relevance to the ongoing reform of the pension and retirement provisions for police officers, and, more generally, to the deployment and second career choices of older workers. (iii) it will assess the scope for local discretion over spending on police officers and the deployment of police officers. The police service is financed by a mixture of central funding and local tax (the precept) raised via the levy of council tax. The share of police funding varies widely across police authorities. This reflects two broad groups of factors: differences in taxable capacity across council tax jurisdictions and, conditional on central grant allocations, differences in the demand for police services across local area. The research will seek to understand the relative importance of these factors using a variety of proxy measures of taxable capacity and demand derived from published data and accounts provided by CIPFA. Given the recent election of Police and Crime Commissioners, and an increasing emphasis on decentralisation of decision-making on police budgets, this topic will be of interest to both academics and policy-makers at the national and local level.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 47.07K | Year: 2014

Labour productivity fell sharply at the start of the 2008 financial crisis. Output produced per worker remains around 14 percentage points below the pre-crisis trend. The scale of the productivity fall and the continued stagnation has been the defining feature of the UKs Great Recession and is commonly termed the productivity puzzle. Headway has been made in solving the puzzle, much of it by work at the Bank of England and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. We know that the solution does not lie in the changing composition of the work force or in an industrial shift in the economy. At the start of the recession productivity was depressed as employers with sufficient resources retained skilled and experienced workers even though they were less productive at that time (this is known as labour hoarding). Since then, multiple factors have likely contributed to the continued weakness, including: a fall in real wages (that may have facilitated labour hoarding and led firms to substitute labour for capital, but that may also be a result of lower productivity); a fall in investment (such that workers have less, and less good capital to work with); higher firm survival than in previous recessions. However, it has been difficult to account for the entire puzzle by appealing to these factors alone. In this project we will explore the role of capital allocation. Previous evidence shows that the overall productivity of the economy - Total Factor Productivity (TFP) - is improved substantially when resources flow to the uses that have the highest return. We have found preliminary evidence that the link between investment and rates of return in the UK has broken down since 2008. The recession was characterised by relative demand shocks and an increasing dispersion in rates of return to capital across firms. Despite this, there has been very little adjustment in the allocation of capital; capital is not flowing to the projects with the highest returns. This is perhaps not surprising given that the key channels through which capital flows across the economy (new investment and the entry and exit of firms) have been notably weak since 2008. The UK experience stands in contrast to previous UK recessions, and to the current experience of the US. An increase in uncertainty and financial market impairment are important candidates for why capital has not been adjusted in response to shocks. In this project we view such factors as distorting firms choices over how much capital to invest in. Our objective is to quantify the scale of such distortions and to estimate how important they are in impeding the allocation of capital and thereby lowering aggregate TFP (and therefore labour productivity). This project will be novel in applying previously developed methods from the academic literature to the context of an advanced economy recession; most of existing literature on resource misallocation focuses on developing countries and seeks to explain their relatively poor productivity performance. In addition, we plan to extend the existing modelling framework to explicitly account for a process of dynamic capital adjustment. That is, to account for the presence of costs that inhibit the adjustment of capital even in normal times. Productivity growth is the source of rising living standards and economic growth. Understanding the causes of weak productivity is therefore central to identifying the policy challenges and designing the solutions. For example, the extent to which low productivity is a temporary or permanent problem is central to judging the UKs supply capacity, and whether expansionary policies are called for. This is of particular importance to monetary policy, which must consider the inflationary consequences of economic expansion. This project will bring together expertise from the Bank of England and the IFS with a view to advancing the solution to the productivity puzzle and directly informing policy makers.

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