Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Funding for researchers in Ireland

Postgraduate funding in Ireland

Call opens: Wednesday 7 September 2016
Deadline: Wednesday 2 November 2016

The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme offers scholarships for suitably qualified individuals to pursue a Research Masters or PhD (either traditional or structured), in any discipline, at eligible Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) within Ireland. In addition, a number of targeted Scholarships are offered in collaboration with our strategic funding partners.

The Irish Research Council's Employment Based Postgraduate Programme is a unique national initiative. First piloted in 2012, it provides students in all disciplines an opportunity to work in a co-educational environment involving a higher education institution and an employment partner. Since its inception, the Council has created over 120 jobs for researchers who are currently embedded in a range of organisational types, across all academic disciplines and business sectors.

Opens: Friday 9 December 2016
Closes: Friday 17 February 2017

Irish Postdoctoral funding

The Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme provides funding across all disciplines for early-career researchers based in Ireland for periods of between one and two years.

Opens: Wednesday 12 October 2016
Closes: Wednesday 30 November 2016

The Enterprise Partnership Programme provides funding for early career researchers working in partnership with academia and industry

(No info yet on dates) 

The Irish Research Council is delighted to announce its new IRC Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) COFUND Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme entitled CAROLINE – ‘Collaborative Research Fellowships for a Responsive and Innovative Europe’.

The initiative will provide experienced researchers* with an opportunity to obtain a prestigious research mobility and career development Fellowship. Successful candidates will carry out research either in Ireland or abroad and will gain inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary exposure through this programme.

CAROLINE will attract experienced researchers from any discipline to conduct research relevant to the themes of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for shared economic prosperity, social development, and environmental protection. The 17 goals within Agenda 2030 are relevant for researchers across all academic disciplines and will be of interest to researchers with diverse career objectives in mind, including those within academia, civic society, and industry. A key feature of the programme is collaboration between the academic sector, non-governmental organisations and international organisations. The scope of potential organisations for inter-sectoral collaboration in terms of their mission is intended to be broad, and will speak to one or more of the goals under Agenda 2030. Potential partner organisations are not limited to ‘development-orientated’ NGOs or those working in support of developing countries.

Opens: Wednesday 12 October 2016
Closes: Wednesday 30 November 2016

General Irish funding schemes

Supporting knowledge exchange through
four strands:

Strand 1 – Enhancing civic society engagement, nationally and internationally Strand 2 – Decade of Centenaries (1917- 1922)
 Strand 3 – Cross-border knowledge exchange and stimulation of collaboration for upcoming HERA and NORFACE calls 
Strand 4 – Enhancing the impact of Irish research internationally through knowledge exchange

Opens: Monday 19 September 2016
Closes: Friday 21 October 2016

Has two strands, a Starter Grant (15 months, for applicants who received their PhD 2-7 years ago, funding up to 100k), and an Interdisciplinary Grant (15 to 24 months, for applicants who received their PhD at least 2 years ago, fundingup to 220k, collaboration with STEM). 

The aim of the New Horizons Strand (1) Starter Grant is twofold:

- To allow promising early stage AHSS researchers to develop track record in basic and exploratory research in AHSS disciplines through a project grant award. 

- Provide seed funding for researchers interested in applying for an Horizon 2020 European Research Council grant in the medium term. 

The aim of the New Horizons Strand (2) Interdisciplinary Grant is twofold: 

- To encourage AHSS researchers to collaborate with STEM researchers on interdisciplinary projects that address societal challenges in the medium term under Horizon 2020. 

- To help AHSS researchers to form new connections and build on existing national and international networks to develop pilot studies, prepare preliminary findings and help establish consortia on upcoming topics across all Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges. 

Key Eligibility:

For both awards, the successful applicants will be academics who hold contracts of sufficient duration to carry out the proposed research at a recognised HEI or Research Performing Organisation in the Republic of Ireland. Recipients of Irish Research Council Research Development Initiative, Collaborative Research Project or Research Project Grant funding in 2012, 2013 or 2014 will be ineligible to apply for New Horizonsfunding. Successful New Horizons applicants cannot be in receipt of any other Council funding at the proposed start date, with the exception of New Foundations Travel & Networking grants. Please see documentation below for more detail regarding eligibility criteria. 

Opens: Monday 12 September 2016
Expression of interest due: 30th September 2016 at 4pm
Final deadline: Friday 28 October 2016

Individual research strands in partnership with Govt. departments or statutory agencies Open call for research addressing national societal challenges

The aim of this programme is to build partnerships with government departments and agencies in order to enable peer-reviewed research/initiatives to underpin policy decisions, and to assist cultural and societal development. 

Call opens: Monday 12 September 2016
Expression of interest due: Friday 30th September 4pm
Deadline: Friday 28 October 2016'

Call Opening: 25 August 2016
Call Closing: 13 October 2016

The HRB will be launching in late August a call for applications for the Investigator Led Projects (ILP) 2017.
The Health Research Board (HRB) Strategy 2016 – 2020: Research. Evidence. Action. highlights three areas of focus that the HRB will engage in over the next four years. The HRB Strategy, through Focus Area 1, aims to address major health challenges by supporting high-quality, investigator-led, internationally competitive
research. In line with its strategic objectives, the HRB now invites applications for its 2017 Investigator Led Projects (ILP).
The new ILP aims to support the creation of new knowledge that, over time, will help to address major health challenges in society and have an impact on tomorrow’s healthcare. Projects supported through the ILP scheme should be cutting-edge, add to the knowledge base internationally, and focus on important,
timely research questions where the answers are of interest to an international audience. 

Applications must be submitted under one of three remits:
(1) Patient-Oriented Research.
(2) Population Health Research.
(3) Health Services Research.
These should comprise clearly defined research projects with a duration of between 24 and 48 months and
to a maximum award value of €370,000 (inclusive of overheads).
* In order to be eligible to apply for funding, an Institution must be an approved HRB Host Institution no
later than two calendar months before the closing date of a call. 

The Lead Applicant must:
  Hold a post (permanent or a contract that covers the duration of the award) in a recognised research institution in the Republic of Ireland (the “Host Institution”) as an independent investigator, or 
 Be a contract researcher recognised by the Host institution as an independent investigator who will have a dedicated office and research space for the duration of award, for which he/she will be fully responsible, or
  Be an individual who will be recognised by the Host Institution upon receipt of the HRB ILP award as a contract researcher as defined above. The Lead applicant does not necessarily need to be employed by the Host Institution at the time of the application submission. 

The HRB will be launching in late September or early October 2016 a call for applications for the Emerging Investigators Award (EIA) 2017. The HRB has identified the training, career development and support of exceptional researchers, talent and leadership as one of the key enablers to deliver the main objectives of the HRB Strategy 2016-2020 Research. Evidence. Action. One of the actions identified in the HRB Health Research Careers programme of activities ( is to build capacity in new independent investigators. The main principles for the scheme have been approved by the HRB Board in early July and can be found below. The full call document will be available once the call is launched. Please note the call is still at developmental stage and details will be finalised over the summer What is the timeline for applications to the first call? Call Opening: Late September/Early October 2016 Call Closing: Early/Mid-December 2016

A Lead Applicant will be expected to have:
 o a PhD or equivalent experience (at least 4 years full-time research experience)
 o a minimum of 3 years active postdoctoral experience if the Lead Applicant is a health-related researcher typically engaged in full time academic activities, who is generally at progression stage (or in exceptional cases at the end of consolidation stage) in the HRB career path in health research (Figure 2) Or
 o at least 3 years research and relevant professional experience if the Lead Applicant is a healthcare professional who is currently engaged in practice-based activities and/or other healthrelated professional roles. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate a satisfactory level of post-PhD research experience as shown by their track record in contribution to scientific knowledge.

 The Lead Applicant must not: 
o have received as principal investigator any previous substantial research grant funding with a value equal or above €100K. Individuals previously in receipt of HRB or other personal awards, such as fellowships or other career development awards, are eligible to apply. 
o have already established a research team and currently supervising earlier stage researchers. o hold a permanent faculty position at the time of the application.

Cycle 2 Call closes: 1 September 2016 @ 1pm

The HRB now wish to open a competitive call for the HRB Applied Partnership Awards.  The overarching aim of the Applied Partnership Awards is to support high quality applied research projects where academic researchers and knowledge users come together in a collaboration to focus on themes/questions which are determined by the documented needs of the Irish health and social care system.

Aligned with the objectives set out in the HRB Strategy, this scheme will support high quality research proposals in clinical and/or population health practice and/or for health services management that are relevant to health priorities in Ireland. The awards will provide support for applied research proposals of between 12-24 months duration and where the findings from the research will have a direct impact on the decision making of the knowledge user’s organisation/s. The proposed research should be explicitly linked to the documented evidence needs of the knowledge user organisation/s and it must be clear from the application how the knowledge user/s is integrated throughout the research process. The question/s must be able to be answered by the research partnership and the application should include a clear and concise knowledge translation plan that will highlight how the research findings will be applied by the knowledge user organization/s.

For applications to be eligible in this scheme a co-funding commitment is required from the knowledge user organisation/s.  The level of the co-funding commitment must be at least equivalent to a minimum of 20% of the total award grant requested from the HRB  and the co-funding counted for this purpose must reflect a cash contribution only (higher and/or additional in-kind contributions are encouraged and welcome).

Who should apply?

Applications should be made on behalf of a team which is made up of researchers and knowledge users. The applicant team should designate a Lead Applicant from the research team, and a Lead Applicant from the Knowledge User team. While we acknowledge that there are many individuals in Knowledge User organisations that are also experienced researchers, it is important in this scheme that there are two distinct Lead Applicants.

Submission and Deadline:

Rolling Call:

These awards will be issued under a rolling call.  The call will open on March 16 2016 and applications can be submitted at any time throughout the year until September 2016.  To date the HRB has not issued a rolling call, however given the need for this initiative to be timely and responsive to knowledge users’ needs we will pilot this as a rolling call in 2016.  Applications can be made at any time following the start date in March 2016 and there will be two distinct cycles for peer-review (as below).  This is to allow researchers and partner organisations to develop timely collaborations, yet have the flexibility to submit to either the first or the second peer review cycle. 

Peer review cycle 1 – June – August 2016

Peer review cycle 2 – October – December 2016 

All applications must be made online using the HRB GEMS.

A 15-minute webinar about the call is available at this link:

Slides from the webinar are available in the 'Related Documents' section below.

Prior to final submission to the HRB, all applications must first be reviewed and approved within GEMS by the signatory approver at the research office (or equivalent) at the Host Institution (see Appendix II of Guidance Notes). It is critical therefore that Lead Applicants leave sufficient time in the process for the Research Office (or equivalent) in their nominated Host Institution to review, seek clarifications and approve applications prior to the final submission date. This may involve being aware of and complying with any internal Host Institution deadlines for review and approval, distinct from the HRB deadline.

Opening Date:
5 June 2014
Closing Date:
29 November 2016
This is a rolling call for proposals in the Health thematic area.

The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across three jurisdictions: United States of America, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The overall goal of this scheme is to increase the level of collaborative R&D amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions. The collaboration aims to generate valuable discoveries and innovation which are transferable to the marketplace, or will lead to enhancements in health, disease prevention and healthcare. The Partnership achieves its goals through tri-partite research projects in which the funding agencies fund the elements of research undertaken in their own jurisdiction. Importantly, the Partnership must add significant value to each research programme above that achievable by the PI in each jurisdiction working alone, supported only by national funding.

Partners Agencies
The Partners are the bodies in each jurisdiction that have agreed to provide research funding depending on the thematic research area. For health-related applications, these include the following:

In the US the partner agency is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH consists of multiple agencies which offer a number of calls for proposals.
In the Republic of Ireland (RoI) the partner agencies are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Health Research Board (HRB).
In Northern Ireland (NI) the partner agencies are the Health & Social Care R&D Division (HSC R&D).
This is a rolling call and currently there is no closing date.

How to apply
The US-Ireland R&D Partnership proposal must have a minimum of one Principal Investigator (PI) from each of the three jurisdictions and significant research participation by all three jurisdictions.

The PI from each jurisdiction must undergo pre-eligibility approval from their respective funding agencies. The pre-eligibility process for all RoI-based applicants will be dealt with by SFI, who will consult with the HRB as appropriate. Please refer to Section 5 of the Call for Submission of Tri-Partite Proposals to the National Health Institute for details on this procedure. Please see Appendix I for more details on the remits of Patient-oriented (please note recent changes on this remit), Health Service and Population Health Research which are eligible for funding by the HRB.

Please note that the 'Call for Submission of Tri-Partite Proposals to the National Health Institute' is currently under review.

The PIs from each jurisdiction will write a joint 'tri-partite' proposal in the RO1 format required by NIH.  It is the responsibility of the US investigator to submit the tri-partite proposal to the NIH for review. 

The NI and RoI funding agencies have their own specific funding streams available for researchers in NI and RoI applying to the US-Ireland R&D Partnership programme. 
In the Republic of Ireland applicants can apply to SFI or HRB only or to both agencies depending on the remit of the research proposal. If applying to both agencies the funding can overlap or run consecutively. More details on HRB eligible costs are in Appendix II.

Submission and Deadline
Submission of pre-eligibility applications and tri-partite proposals must be done to USIreland(at)

DEADLINE for Pre-Eligibility Approval is 12 weeks in advance of NIH deadline
DEADLINE for Draft Tri-Partite Proposal Submission is 6 weeks in advance of NIH deadline.

The aim of the Commercialisation Fund Programme is to improve the competitiveness of the Irish economy through the creation of technology based start-up companies and the transfer of innovations developed in Higher Education Institutes and Research Performing Organisations to industry in Ireland. 

The programme will fund the development of innovations at all stages of the commercial pipeline to the point where they can be commercialised as new products, services and companies.

Commercialisation Fund Project Support is available for projects that address a gap or need in the market by developing innovations that will ideally be ready for licensing to Irish industry or may form the basis of a new start-up in 2-5 years. It is recognised however that some innovations may need a longer time to get to market than others.

Funding is also available in the form of a Commercial Case Feasibility Grant to investigate, scope and develop a commercial case for your innovation in advance of submitting a Commercialisation Fund support application to the programme.

European Research Council Funding 

Starting Grant (ERC-2017-STG) opened 26 July 2016. Deadline:18 October 2016.

The Principal Investigator shall have been awarded his/her first PhD ≥ 2 and ≤ 7 years prior to 1 January 2017 Cut-off dates: PhD from 1 January 2010 to 1 January 2015 (inclusive). 

A competitive Starting Grant Principal Investigator must have already shown the potential for research independence and evidence of maturity, for example by having produced at least one important publication as main author or without the participation of their PhD supervisor. 

Starting Grants can be up to a maximum of EUR 1 500 000 for a period of 5 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration). 

Consolidator Grant (ERC-2017-CoG) opens 20 Oct 2016. Deadline: 9 Feb 2017.

The Principal Investigator shall have been awarded his/her first PhD > 7 and ≤ 12 years prior to 1 January 2017 Cut-off dates: PhD awarded from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2009 (inclusive) 

A competitive Consolidator Grant Principal Investigator must have already shown research independence and evidence of maturity, for example by having produced several important publications as main author or without the participation of their PhD supervisor.

Consolidator Grants can be up to a maximum of EUR 2 000 000 for a period of 5 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration).

Eligibility: any nationality, any age. Applicants must be leaders in their respective field(s) of research and must demonstrate significant achievement in the last 10 years
Location: research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation(known as a Host Institution/HI). It could be the HI where the applicant already works, or any other HI located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries
Funding: up to € 2.5 million per grant 
Duration: up to 5 years
Sole evaluation criterion: scientific excellence of researcher and research proposal
Calls for proposals: published once a year 

Opens: 16 May 2017
Closes: 31 Aug 2017

Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions

There are two types of Individual Fellowships:

1. European Fellowships

Held in the EU or associated countriespdf Choose translations of the previous link.
Open to researchers either coming to Europe or moving within Europe.
Can help to restart research careers after a break such as parental leave.
Can also help reintegrate researchers coming back to Europe.

2. Global Fellowships

Fund secondments outside Europe for researchers based in the EU or associated countriespdf Choose translations of the previous link.
There is a mandatory one-year return period.
European and Global Fellowships can also include a secondment period of up to 3 or 6 months in another organisation in Europe, where this would boost the impact of the fellowship.

Only experienced researchers can apply. This means you will have your doctoral degree or at least four years’ full-time research experience by the time of the call deadline.

The grant provides an allowance to cover your living, travel and family costs. The grant is awarded to your host organisation, usually a university, research centre or a company in Europe. The research costs and overheads of the host organisation(s) are also supported.

European Fellowships last from one to two years, Global Fellowships from two to three years.

2016 scheme closes: 14 September 2016

2017 scheme: 

Opens: 11 April 2017
Closes: 14 September 2017

COST is the longest-running European framework supporting trans-national cooperation among researchers, engineers and scholars across Europe.   Based on a European intergovernmental framework for cooperation in science and technology, COST has been contributing - since its creation in 1971 - to closing the gap between science, policy makers and society throughout Europe and beyond. As a precursor of advanced multidisciplinary research, COST plays a very important role in building a European Research Area (ERA).

It anticipates and complements the activities of the EU Framework Programmes, constituting a “bridge” towards the scientific communities of COST Inclusiveness Target Countries. It also increases the mobility of researchers across Europe and fosters the establishment of scientific excellence.

You can submit your COST Action proposal at any time throughout the year via the new e-COST online submission tool. 
The next Collection Date is tentatively set for 1 December 2016, at 12:00 CET. 

COST invites proposals for Actions contributing to the scientific, technological, economic, cultural or societal knowledge advancement and development of Europe. 

The  new Action Proposal Submission, Evaluation, Selection and Approval (SESA) procedure  is fully science and technology-driven and will ensure a simple, transparent and competitive proposal evaluation and selection process, in line with the bottom-up, open and inclusive principles of COST.

Researchers benefit from a one-stage submission. The proposal requires filling in several sections via the new e-COST online submission tool as well as the  Technical Annex of up to 15 pages, uploaded via the same tool.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

MIT/Edx MOOC on Economic Modelling

Following from the previous post, the MOOC on economic modelling also looks very useful. See below or on the link for details. It also starts on September 19th.

What is produced in an economy? How is it produced? Who gets the product? Microeconomics seeks to answer these fundamental questions about markets.

In this course, we’ll introduce you to microeconomic theory, together with some empirical results and policy implications. You’ll analyze mathematical models that describe the real-world behavior of consumers and firms, and you’ll see how prices make the world go ‘round.

You’ll join the ranks of business executives, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and global leaders who rely on the insights they derive from a working knowledge of microeconomics. Nobel memorial prize-winner Paul Samuelson invented the modern microeconomics curriculum at MIT. Now is your chance to learn the field from the intellectual tradition he began.

Topics include:

Consumer theory
Supply and demand
Market equilibrium
Producer theory
Capital markets
Welfare economics
Public goods

MIT Mooc: Data Analysis for Social Scientists

The MIT/Edx online course "Data Analysis for Social Scientists" will be very useful for many readers of this blog. Details on the link and below. It starts on September 19th and runs for 12 weeks.

About this course

This statistics and data analysis course will introduce you to the essential notions of probability and statistics. We will cover techniques in modern data analysis: estimation, regression and econometrics, prediction, experimental design, randomized control trials (and A/B testing), machine learning, and data visualization. We will illustrate these concepts with applications drawn from real world examples and frontier research. Finally, we will provide instruction for how to use the statistical package R and opportunities for students to perform self-directed empirical analyses.

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn how to work with data and communicate data-driven findings effectively.

 See more about Data Analysis for Social Scientists
What you'll learn
Intuition behind probability and statistical analysis
How to summarize and describe data
A basic understanding of various methods of evaluating social programs
How to present results in a compelling and truthful way
Skills and tools for using R for data analysis

Friday, August 19, 2016

Behavioural Science in Law & Policy: Evidence, Ethics, & Expertise

Behavioural Science in Law & Policy:

Evidence, Ethics, & Expertise 

Organisers: Professor Muireann Quigley (Law, Innovation, and Society Research Group, Newcastle Law School) and Professor Liam Delaney (Behavioural Sciences Centre, Stirling Management School) 

Date: Friday, 23rd September 2016
Venue: Conference Room, Newcastle law School, Newcastle University

Behavioural economics, and behavioural science more generally, has become an increasingly salient aspect of modern policy debates. Governments throughout the world have begun to explicitly incorporate this literature across a wide range of policy domains. The potential for this literature to improve policy through evidence-based trials has been widely discussed. Furthermore, the implications of behavioural economics for regulation is now on the agenda of many leading regulatory agencies. The increasing traction within policy circles of behavioural approaches to law and policy is evident through the creation of specialist units across the globe; e.g. the United Kingdom’s Behavioural Insights Team, the Social and Behavioural Sciences Team in the United States, and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government. Within the European Commission, the Joint Research Centre offers support to Commission services wanting to conduct behavioural studies. Despite the current enthusiasm amongst governments and policy-makers for behavioural approaches, there are potential problems with the use of the behavioural sciences to formulate public policy, many of which remain underexplored. The aim of this workshop is to bring together papers from a range of different disciplinary, regulatory, and practical perspectives to examine these. 

Provisional Schedule 

08:45 – 09:00 Registration

09:00 – 09:15 Welcome

09:15 – 11:00 Session 1 – Matters of Principle & Practice: Ethics & the Behavioural Sciences

Dr Christian Schubert (Max Planck Institute of Economics) - Nudging, Integrity and Welfare.

Dr Magdelena Malecka & Dr Robert Leipnes (EUI) - Nudges, Law & Politics - beyond the individualist perspective.

Dr. Leonhard Lades (University of Stirling) – Nudges, Well-Being and Welfare.

Commentator: Prof. Liam Delaney (University of Stirling)

11:00-11:15 Coffee

11:15-13:00 Session 2 The Regulatory State in the Behavioural Era

TBC: Dr Fabiana Di Porto (University of Salento) & Dr Nicoletta Rangone (LUMSA University) - A Behavioural Approach to Consumer Empowerment Regulation: Applications in Gambling.

Katy King & Elisabeth Costa (Behavioural Insights Team) - Applying Behavioural Insights to Regulated Markets.

Commentator: Dr. Leonhard Lades (University of Stirling)

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:45 Session 3 - Translating Behavioural Science into Law & Policy: Problems, Pitfalls, & Solutions

Kathryn McKay (University of Birmingham) & Prof. Muireann Quigley (Newcastle University) - Exacerbating Inequalities? Health Policy & the Behavioural Sciences.

Dr Nicky Priaulx & Dr Martin Weinel (Cardiff University) - (Mis)understanding behaviour: Law, science and expertise'.

Prof. Peter John (University College London) – How Far to Nudge?.

Commentator Dr. Michael Daly (University of Stirling).

15:45 – 16:00 Coffee

16:00-17:00 Roundtable

18:30 Speakers’ Dinner

Please email the workshop organisers Prof Muireann Quigley ( and Prof Liam Delaney ( if you have any queries. If you wish to register as a delegate for the event, you can do so at the following registration page. Registration is free but numbers are limited by space. The workshop is sponsored by Newcastle University Law School and Stirling University Management School. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Workshop on Methods for Missing Data: 15th and 16th September, London

A workshop on missing data with emphasis on sample selection models will take place in London in September. This workshop aims to provide an introduction to the issues raised by missing data with particular emphasis on missing not at random. The workshop is free but registration is required.

Who will benefit and how

This workshop provides a practical introduction to the use of a very flexible class of sample selection models which can be useful to analysts and quantitative researchers whose analyses are affected by missing not at random. There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion with the course instructors on sample selection models (but not only) for analysing missing data, and help will be provided with interpreting results. Throughout, there will be a focus on the policy implications of missing data and potential solutions to this problem. The workshop will also be relevant for practitioners conducting surveys on topics which are likely to be affected by missing information, as we will discuss how to incorporate methods to adjust for data not missing at random into the way surveys are designed.

Summary of workshop

This workshop aims to:

• Provide an introduction to the issues raised by missing data with particular emphasis on missing
not at random;
• Briefly introduce ad-hoc methods and principled methods;
• Briefly introduce pattern mixture models;
• Introduce and discuss sample selection models;
• Illustrate the use of SemiParBIVProbit to deal with missing not at random;
• Case studies from DHS studies, ageing studies and cost effectiveness analyses.

Workshop timetable
Thursday 15 September

10:00-10:15 Introduction (ALL)
10:15-11:00 Missing Mechanisms, Ad-Hoc and Principled Methods (GH)
11:00-11:30 Introduction to Pattern Mixture Models (MG)
11:30-11:45 Break
11:45-12:45 Sample Selection Models and Variants: Part I (GM/RR)
12:45-14:00 Lunch
14:00-14:45 Sample Selection Models and Variants: Part II (GM/RR)
14:45-15:15 Introduction to R Package SemiParBIVProbit (GM/RR)
15:15-15:30 Break
15:30-16:30 Practicals with SemiParBIVProbit (ALL)

Friday 16 September

10:00-10:30 Missing data in ageing studies (MM)
10:30-11:00 Missing data in DHS studies (or South Africa work) (GH)
11:00-11:15 Break
11:15-11:45 Missing data in cost-effectiveness analyses (MG)
11:45-12:15 Designing survey to incorporate sample selection approaches (MM)
12:15-13:00 Interactive discussion (ALL)

Participants are expected to have some familiarity with R, as well as relevant statistical concepts such as linear regression.


The event is free but prior registration is required. To reserve a place, please contact Rosalba Radice and provide a brief explanation of your interest in the course and short CV.


Rosalba Radice (Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics and Statistics)

Giampiero Marra (University College London, Department of Statistical Science)

Manuel Gomes (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Department of Health Services Research and Policy)

Guy Harling (Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Global Health and Population)

Mark McGovern (CHaRMS, Queen's University Belfast)

Key references
1. Marra, G., Radice, R., Bärnighausen, T., Wood, S.W., McGovern, M.E. (in press). A Simultaneous Equation Approach to Estimating HIV Prevalence with Non-Ignorable Missing Responses. Journal of the American Statistical Association

2. Marra, G., Radice, R. (2016). A Bivariate Copula Additive Model for Location, Scale and Shape.

3. Marra, G., Radice, R. (2016). SemiParBIVProbit: Semiparametric Copula Bivariate Probit Modelling. R package version 3.7-1.

4. McGovern, M.E., Marra, G., Radice, R., Canning, D., Newell, M.L., Bärnighausen, T. (2015). Adjusting for Non-Participation Bias at an HIV Surveillance Site in Rural South Africa. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 18, 19954.

5. Marra G., Radice R. (2013). A Penalized Likelihood Estimation Approach to Semiparametric Sample Selection Binary Response Modeling. Electronic Journal of Statistics, 7, 1432-1455.
6. Marra G., Radice R. (2013). Estimation of a Regression Spline Sample Selection Model. Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, 61, 158-173.

7. Radice R., Marra G., Wojtys M. (in press). Copula Regression Spline Models for Binary Outcomes. Statistics and Computing.

8. McGovern M.E., Bärnighausen T., Marra G., Radice R. (2015). On the Assumption of Joint Normality in Selection Models: A Copula Approach Applied to Estimating HIV Prevalence. Epidemiology, 26(2), 229-237.

9. Bärnighausen, T., Bor, J., Wandira-Kazibwe, S., Canning, D. (2011). Correcting HIV prevalence estimates for survey nonparticipation using Heckman-type selection models. Epidemiology, 22, 2735.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

9th Annual Irish Economics and Psychology Conference

9th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference
The ninth annual one day conference on Economics and Psychology will be held on November 25th in Queen's University Belfast, jointly organised by researchers in QUB, ESRI, Stirling and UCD. The purpose of these sessions is to develop the link between Economics, Psychology, and cognate disciplines throughout Ireland. A special theme of these events is the implications of behavioural economics for public policy. If you would like to present at this event please send a 200 word abstract to before Friday 9th September.

As well as the annual workshop we have developed a broader network to meet more regularly to discuss work at the intersection of economics, psychology, and policy. This has had five meet-ups so far, as well as some offshoot sessions. Anyone interested in this area is welcome to attend. A website with more details and a mailing list to sign up to is available here. There are currently over 200 people signed up to the network and the events have been, at least in my view, very lively and interesting. There are several more planned for throughout 2016/2017 and we welcome suggestions.

Preliminary Programme:

9am to 915am: Welcome

915am to 10.30am: Behavioural Economics and Policy Case Studies

10.30am to 11am: Coffee

11am to 12.30pm: Ethics, Policy, and Behavioural Science

12.30pm to 1.30pm: Lunch

1.30 to 245pm: Measurement, Method, and Behavioural Science

2.45pm to 3pm: Coffee

3pm to 4pm: Keynote Speaker 1

4pm to 5pm: Keynote Speaker 2

Friday, August 12, 2016

Competition and Markets Authority Retail Banking Report

The Competition and Markets Authority in the UK published a report this week on retail banking. I commented on it briefly on the Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday morning and the purpose of this post is to provide further information. The CMA has been operating since 2013 when it replaced for most purposes the Competition Commission and Office of Fair Trading. It is basically responsible for ensuring competition and fair practices in markets in the United Kingdom. 

Since November 2014 the CMA has been investigating the market for personal current accounts (PCAs) and of banking services to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). Details of their preliminary reports and various other resources are available on the investigation website. A useful document for those who don't have the time to read the thousands of pages on that website is the 55 page summary document available here. The core task of the investigation is summarised below.
"We are required to decide whether any feature, or combination of features, of each relevant market prevents, restricts or distorts competition in connection with the supply or acquisition of any goods or services in the UK or a part of the UK. If we decide that there is such a feature or a combination of features, then there is an adverse effect on competition (AEC). Should an AEC be found, we are also required to decide whether action should be taken by the CMA or a recommendation be made to others to take action for the purpose of remedying, mitigating or preventing the AEC or any resulting detrimental effect on customers. This final report sets out our decisions on these questions."
The PCA and SME banking services markets are large and important in the UK. As noted in the report, 97% of adults have a PCA and there are over 70 million PCAs in the UK, generating 8.7 billion in revenue for banks in 2014. As well as traditional questions of competition policy, there are clearly many potential behavioural issues in these markets that could lead to welfare consequences for consumers.
In light of these reviews and the market studies into PCAs and SME banking which led to this investigation, we investigated three broad areas in which we had concerns that retail banking may not be working well for customers:  
(a) whether there is a weak customer response due to lack of engagement and/or barriers to searching and switching reducing the incentives on banks to compete on price and/or quality and/or to innovate;(b) whether there are barriers to entry and expansion constraining the ability of banks to enter or expand; and(c) whether the level of concentration is having an adverse effect on customers.  
The findings with respect to the above questions show very low levels of consumer engagement in both PCA and SME banking markets. Half of consumers had been with the same PCA for the last 10 years. Only 3 per cent had switched within the last year.  The figures are not dramatically different for SME banking customers with many of the same issues arising.

As well as this, there is an important question as to how customers use these accounts, in particular the extent to which they incur overdraft fees. The most striking feature of the report for me from a behavioural perspective relates to the use of unarranged overdrafts. Unarranged overdrafts are a very expensive form of credit. Nearly half of the people using them were unaware they were doing so. It is one of the clearest areas I know where there is a potential behavioural market failure, as can be seen from the report's findings below.
In addition, there are particular concerns for overdraft users. Around 4.5% of active PCAs used an overdraft in 2014 with around a quarter of PCA customers using an unarranged overdraft. Despite overdraft users tending to have the most to gain from switching, we found that:
(a) Overdraft charges are particularly difficult to compare across banks, due to both the complexity and multiplicity of the charging structures and the difficulties in understanding their own usage. In particular, customers exceeding their pre-arranged credit limit can incur substantial charges but
there is no easy way for a customer to find and compare the charges or
credit limits an alternative PCA might offer them.
(b) Overdraft users generally have limited awareness of and engagement with their overdraft usage. For example, over half of overdraft users we surveyed underestimated their usage by two or more months in a year and over a third were not aware that they had gone into overdraft. Moreover, around half of unarranged overdraft users did not believe they had gone into unarranged overdraft.
(c) There are additional barriers to switching for overdraft users due to uncertainty surrounding the acceptance and timing of any overdraft approval when opening a new account. In addition, a new bank may not be willing to offer the same level of overdraft facility as a customer’s bank, for example because the new bank will not have access to the customer’s transaction data but will need to rely on information from the customer and from CRAs. 
The report outlines a range of remedies to encourage active consumption on behalf of PCA and SME banking consumers. These are nested under four broad headings, as outlined below. There are many innovative and interesting ideas contained within these remedies, many of which have been discussed in various papers and reports on behavioural regulation over the last 10 years. As such, the roll-out of these remedies offers a particularly useful case-study as to whether this approach can actively shape outcomes in markets of this nature.
Our integrated package of remedies is illustrated below, and consists of four
(a) Three cross-cutting foundation measures that will underpin increased competition in our reference markets. They have the object of increasing customer engagement and making it easier for personal and business customers to compare the prices and service quality of different providers
and of encouraging the development of new services.
(b) Additional measures to make current account switching work better, including building on and improving the existing CASS.
(c) A set of measures aimed at PCA overdraft users, a group of customers who suffer particularly from the competition failures in the PCA market.
(d) A set of measures targeted at the specific problems in SME banking, making it easier for SMEs to compare different providers and reducing the hold that incumbent banks have in the market for BCAs and SME loans
The potential remedies for the levels of low engagement and high frequency of incurring overdraft fees and unplanned overdraft fees merit a lot of debate. Several consumer groups had advocated for mandating centrally imposed caps on the amount that banks can charge customers for exceeding their overdraft limit rather than allowing banks to set this limit themselves. Instead they recommend what could be considered a Nudge approach that forces banks to provide more transparent and timely information about the likelihood of incurring different types of overdraft fees. This is one of the most contentious aspects of the report and one of the most contentious aspects of this literature and policy area more generally. To use the phrase from the well-known Bubb and Pildes paper, why should behavioural economics trim its sails in this manner? Why focus on soft intervention when a harder more mandated approach might be more effective? I have blogged about this issue before. It is one of the central issues in behavioural economics, law and regulation and will likely shape this debate long into the future.
(a) requiring banks to automatically enrol all their customers into an unarranged overdraft alert;
(b) requiring banks to offer, and alert customers to the opportunity to benefit from, grace periods during which they can take action to avoid or reduce all charges resulting from unarranged overdraft use;
(c) recommending to the FCA that it undertakes further work to identify, research, test and, as appropriate, implement measures to increase overdraft customers’ engagement with their overdraft usage and charges. This will be facilitated by an Order to require banks to cooperate with the FCA in its research programme, including RCTs; and
(d) to increase PCA customers’ engagement with overdraft features, we are recommending that the FCA looks at ways for banks to engage customers more in considering overdraft features and their potential relevance and impact, during the PCA opening process. 
There are several other issues that people have been debating on this report. The extent to which competition in these markets is constrained by the market power of the largest established banks is an ongoing debate and is not widely addressed in the report, other than to say they have largely concluded that market power itself is likely not the source of low consumer engagement. The behavioural economics approach is a key feature of British regulation across several areas over recent year (see BIT report, FCA report, CMA Chairman speech on behavioural economics, and University of East Anglia book for very useful papers; see also Bar-Gill Seduction by Contract for a recent book on the behavioural law approach). The extent to which it tends in Britain to be associated with a soft-mandatory or Nudge type approach needs to be kept under scrutiny and debate. Behavioural barriers do not necessarily imply softer interventions. It will be fascinating to see whether this comprehensive package of recommended behavioural interventions has an effect of the levels of engagement and quality of consumer outcomes in this market. If it does not, it will certainly tip the balance back in favour of those advocating harder approaches.

The report also brings home the vast numbers of small businesses and retail consumers who clearly have difficulty engaging with what are, for many, complex services. The wider effects this might be having on constraining start-up formation, impacting on family solvency, mental health, and other welfare outcomes are worth considering, and they provide a substantive area of inquiry for people who are bringing psychological and behavioural perspectives to these areas.