Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UCD MSc in Behavioural Economics: Info for Part-Time

See below for the main info on our new MSc in Behavioural Economics. I direct the programme and there will be a combination of 4 new modules specifically designed for the behavioral programme and core economics modules and electives. As said below, the level of this course will require that applicants have relevant undergraduate degrees, ideally in Economics but potentially another degree with an equivalent quantitative component. The part-time option is do this over 2 years, with the dissertation at the end of the second year. This may suit people living in Ireland who have employer support to take this training. As Director, I am happy to speak to people thinking about this option and there will be scope, for example, to conduct a dissertation in an area with direct relevance to your role. MSc students will also be heavily integrated with our research group and encouraged to attend seminars, journal clubs, network events, and related activity.

MSc Behavioural Economics

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

UCD School of Economics is Ireland’s leading economics department. Our staff are experts with international reputations in a wide range of topics such as macroeconomics, econometrics, applied microeconomics, behavioural economics, health economics, international trade and economic history. School members play a significant role in debating economic policy issues and in contributing to the formulation of economic policy.  This is the only MSc in this area in Ireland and it is one of the few worldwide with a strong policy and regulatory focus.

The MSc in Behavioural Economics  is an exciting new course devoted to providing an in-depth training in the area of behavioural economics. Students will take a range of rigorous economic modules but will specialise in understanding a range of new models that incorporate the latest evidence on human decision making. As well as being trained in the core concepts and theories of behavioural economics, students will also learn about the range of empirical methods used to test ideas in this area in lab and field settings. The MSc will also cover the ethical, legal, and regulatory context for the ideas of behavioural economics. Thus, the students will be equipped to apply these ideas in a wide range of academic, business, and policy settings.

This programme features small group teaching from leading economists and a supportive environment.  Masters students are an integral part of our School community, attending research seminars and receiving a wide range of supports to help them prepare for their research thesis.

Course content & structure

This programme comprises 90 Credits of which 70 are taught and 20 are taken by dissertation.

In your first term, you will undertake a two-week preliminary course in mathematics and statistics.  You will also take the following modules:

•    Microeconomics
•    Econometrics
•    Behavioural Economics
•    Topics in Psychological Science
•    Research Skills

In your second term, you will take the following two core modules.

•    Behavioural Economics: Policy Applications
•    Experiments in Economics

You will also take two other modules. The following is an indicative list of modules that may be available:
•    Advanced Microeconomics
•    Advanced Econometrics
•    Health and Welfare Economics
•    Economics of Competition Policy
•    Energy Economics and Policy

In summer term, you will do a supervised research thesis on a topic related to behavioural economics.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Economic research associate vacancies Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Economic research associate vacancies

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Type: 2 x temporary Research Associates

Start Date: Mid-March 2017

Duration: 2-3 months

Rate: £180 per day (negotiable)

Interested candidates should email their CV to bdu@fca.org.uk and Liridona.Asllani@fca.org.uk before Friday 3rd March 2017.

The Behavioural Economics and Data Science Unit (BDU) at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is offering two research associate positions to support ‘big data’ economic research projects with household finance microdata. BDU is led by Stefan Hunt (Head of BDU, PhD Harvard) and supports the FCA’s policy, competition, supervisory and enforcement functions by designing and executing high calibre original research.

The roles involve advanced data manipulation, preparing microdata for economic analysis and designing sensitivity analysis on our cloud-based servers. Suitable candidates should have obtained, or be in the process of obtaining, a master degree or PhD and have experience using R. The appropriate candidate will also have knowledge and experience of managing large datasets. Familiarity with R packages dplyr, tidyr, data table would give candidates an advantage. Candidates with strong experience of other coding software (e.g. MATLAB, SAS, STATA) would also be considered. Knowledge of financial markets is not essential.

These roles also offer an opportunity to work within the BDU at the FCA. BDU is a new initiative at the FCA and aims to apply modern theory and applications from behavioural economics and data science to solve contemporary economic problems and increase the FCA’s effectiveness in achieving its operational objectives. Current BDU research also includes large-scale randomized controlled trials in household finance and application of data mining and machine learning. The roles are based at the FCA’s offices in Canary Wharf, London.

These roles require the individual to work at least three days a week. Applicants are encouraged to indicate their availability in their application e-mail (e.g. X days per week).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cass Sunstein Public Lecture

Professor Cass Sunstein will visit UCD on March 31st. He will speak on "New Directions in Behaviorally Informed Policy". The talk will take place in the UCD Sutherland School of Law from 12pm to 2pm. Registration is free but places are limited by space and we ask participants to register. 

About Professor Sunstein: 

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations. Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and books, including Republic.com (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), Worst-Case Scenarios (2001), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013) and most recently Why Nudge? (2014) and Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerou s Ideas (2014). He is now working on group decisionmaking and various projects on the idea of liberty

If you would like to attend please ensure you register here

Talks on Irish Health System

Two interesting upcoming lectures on the Irish health system courtesy of the UCD Health Systems Group: 

How is the Irish Health System Financed? Stephan Mulvanny, Chief Financial Officer, Health Services Executive. 9th March 2017, 12:00-12:50, C005 Health Sciences Centre.

Current Status of Irish Health System: Opportunities and Challenges. Tony O'Brien, Director General, Health Services Executive. 4th of April, 11:00-11:50, C005 Health Sciences Centre.

These lectures are part of the inaugural elective module on Introduction to Health Systems coordinated by Assoc. Professor Hasheem Mannan, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems. Both lectures are free to attend and the places are limited. Please register your attendance in advance.

UCD Health Systems Group

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network Meetings

In 2017, we have five meet-ups scheduled, as well as the annual Irish economics and psychology workshop on December 1st:

9th February: Behavioural Economics and the Ethics of Influence (sign-up here)
31st March: Professor Cass Sunstein Public Lectures in UCD and ESRI
18th May: Field, Lab, and Natural Experiments in Public Policy (sign-up here)
7th September: Behavioural Economics and Communications in Policy and Business (sign-up here)
19th October: Behavioural Economics and the Future of Regulation (sign-up here)
1st December: 10th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference (sign-up here)

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Behavioural Science and Policy Links

See below for a collection of useful links on behavioural economics, behavioural science, and public policy. They provide useful background reading for the various sessions we do on this area in Dublin and more generally. 

This page provides links to popular overviews of behavioural economics


The FCA Occasional papers that we have spoken about here a lot are available below. The first one introducing behavioural economics has lots of relevant information.


A very lengthy set of links that I have been maintaining on public policy is available below


The behavioural change wheel by Susan Michie is a terrific resource for a wideranging account of behavioural change.


A report written by IGEES on potential for behavioural economics in Ireland is below


Some further links below, grouped by topics that we have discussed here:


The best book for policy is behavioural foundations of public policy. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9888.html

Obviously, Sunstein and Thaler's Nudge contains a lot of interesting material and cuts across almost all the examples that people brought up last week. http://yalebooks.com/ See our "database" for 100 nudge studies that cut across many areas http://economicspsychologypolicy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/nudge-database_3441.html Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" is a bestseller available in all book shops and well worth reading as background. 

The MINDSPACE paper is available on the link below and outlines the approach developed by the Institute for Government and the Behavioural Insights Team. Again, this paper cuts across all the examples we spoke about in the sessions.



For people interested in environmental and energy applications, this paper is very useful http://oullier.free.fr/files/2011_Oullier-Sauneron_CAS_Green-Nudges-Ecological-Behavior.pdf

The Sunstein/Reisch paper is one of the best and most detailed summaries.

Charitable Donations and Voluntary Behaviour

The BIT document "applying behavioural insights to charitable giving" is very useful



For those interested in public health applications, it is worth looking at this new book https://global.oup.com/academic/product/behavioral-economics-and-public-health-9780199398331?cc=gb&lang=en&

The BIT also have a nice summary of applications to public health - see below


Another nice paper below


Finance and Financial Regulation

Anyone thinking about financial products and financial regulation should read the excellent paper below


Behavioural Economics and Development

The JPAL lab is the best in the world on this area https://www.povertyactionlab.org/

The 2014 World Bank report gives a comprehensive overview of this material


Behavioural Economics and Pharma Compliance

See the work of Professor Kevin Volpp and colleagues below. Also the papers under the public health tab above will be very useful.


Employee Incentives 

See below for a very useful paper on the psychology and economics of employee incentives.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

March 10th Stirling Workshop on Valuation and Well-Being

Workshop on Valuation and Well-Being 

On March 10th, we will host a workshop on valuation and well-being in Stirling University. Those with an interest in the area are welcome to attend. There is no registration fee but places are limited by space and we would ask people to register in advance at the following link. The preliminary programme is below and will be updated shortly.

Scope of Workshop 

The key aim of the workshop is to advance understanding of the comparison between different methods of revealing preferences and valuations for public and private goods. One key aspect of this is to understand how well-being and stated preferences measures compare and contrast. While there has been some literature on this, there is still a lot needed to be learned about this comparison. Furthermore, we would like to understand what new methods such as the day reconstruction method contribute to understanding about revealed preference.

- Comparing well-being and stated preference measures to value cultural and heritage goods
- Using day reconstruction methods to develop new measures of well-being and revealed preference
- The potential for validated mental health measures to be used in valuing public goods
- Examining psychological features of stated preference elicitation
- Comparing revealed and stated preference measures


9am to 915am: Opening and Introduction: Liam Delaney (University College Dublin).

9.15 to 10am: Nick Hanley (St Andrews): “Emotions, personality and stated choices for environmental public goods”, (with Christopher and Mikolaj Czajkowski.)

10am to 1045am: Mirko Moro (Stirling): "Valuing the Environment using Well-Being Data".


11am to 11.45: David Comerford (Stirling): "Inferring Preferences from Choice Data: The Role of Act Utility". (with Leo Lades).

11.45 to 1230: Susana Mourato (LSE): "Well-Being and Stated Preference Approaches for Valuing Cultural and Heritage Goods".

1230 to 130: Lunch 

1.30 to 2.15: Leo Lades (Stirling): "Assessing subjective well-being when preferences are dynamically inconsistent" (with Liam Delaney).

2.15 to 3pm: Verity Watson (Aberdeen): "Using social psychology to improve stated preference responses: Evidence from the lab".

Conclusion and Keynote: Glenn Harrison (George State University).