Economics Research

Bristol is among the top economics departments in the UK. Our research is internationally-recognised for its originality, significance and rigour, and delivers real-world impact.

Our research in econometrics has helped to advance the study of panel data models, non-parametric methods, and estimation of treatment effects. Policy evaluations go beyond quantifying a single effect to learn about the mechanisms and pathways underlying observed outcomes. Applied researchers draw on rich datasets and large-scale field experiments in health, education, employment and welfare policies, and use the latest methods to uncover spatial dimensions of economic processes. Structural models of labour markets, household choices and consumer search are used to generate deeper insights into behaviour and to make policy predictions. Theoretical research focuses on the optimal design of markets, public services, and political institutions. Research in macroeconomics, broadly defined, encompasses the study of unemployment, household decisions, economic growth, and the effects of foreign aid.


Our research also goes beyond economics. By drawing on connections with biology, geography, mathematics and statistics, medical sciences, and psychology, we seek to deepen our understanding of phenomena that cannot be explained solely in terms of economics, and to study effects of economic events on other outcomes, and vice versa.

Academic excellence and esteem

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) evaluation of Economics Departments at UK universities, our department was ranked sixth for the overall quality of its research activity. Since then, department members have continued to publish in leading general and field journals.

Current department members hold a number of journal editorships and associate editorships. They also hold positions as Fellows of the Econometric Society, elected members of the Council of the Royal Economic Society, and the Council of the European Economic Association. They belong to international research networks (CEPR, CESifo and IZA) and serve on research funding panels.

Impact and collaboration

The department has an excellent track record in research that has an impact on the real world. In REF 2014, the department was rated first in the UK for the impact of its research, as witnessed by case studies drawn from healthcare, education and energy regulation. Since then, we have continued to disseminate research to a wide audience. Recent examples include our research on fracking, education policies, and disaster appeals. Policy and practice have demonstrably been influenced by work in areas such as pensions, education, welfare-to-work, health and charitable giving.

Many research projects are carried out in collaboration with non-academic partners, providing access to rich administrative datasets. Major policy experiments and randomized controlled trials have been implemented in the field to learn more about which approaches work and which do not, and to generate new insights into underlying economic behaviour. Throughout our research activity, we seek to advance our understanding using rigorous methods, relevant models, and careful analyses of the data.

The research we conduct tackles key societal issues and contributes to positive changes within our community. An example is the current work of one of our PhD students, Isabel Stockton, with her submission 'What Women Workers Want (And What They'll Pay For It)' to the 3 Minute Thesis Challenge in 2018. Isabel won the Bristol round of the competition and was among the final twelve in the national competition with her work addressing the gender pay gap and equal opportunities for women. Research which was supported by the research environment offered within the Department of Economics at Bristol.

Here are Isabel's own remarks on the impression our research leaves:

"Adapting the words of a founding father of modern Economics, our very own Alfred Marshall, we economists study (wo)mankind in the ordinary business of life - which means that it's all the more important to get our research out there beyond the academic community.

"Throughout my PhD, I've really enjoyed sharing my research with different audiences, whether that's through the 3MT competition, presenting a cartoon version of my first chapter at the Research without Borders festival or discussing the future of data with the Jean Golding institute. As I start to wrap up my PhD work, my next steps as a researcher will take me to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, whose public engagement work I hugely admire and am excited to contribute to."


REF 2014 results

In REF 2014 the Department of Economics was ranked sixth in the UK for the overall quality of its research activity and first for its research impact.

Results are from the most recent Research Excellence Framework, conducted by HEFCE.

Research papers and publications

Read the latest published research papers and publications by members of the Department of Economics.

Working papers

Find out more about our ongoing research by reading our working papers.

PhD student success

Our research students go on to further their careers at prestigious institutions and have their research published in leading journals.

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