Jenny RobertsKarl TaylorOn Thursday 1st December Jennifer Roberts and Karl Taylor presented their work on “Commuting, local labour markets & household behaviours” to a group of analysts and researchers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) .

This seminar was the first in a new series of Sheffield Solutions lunchtime seminars at the DWP and generated wide interest.

Further details about this research can be found in the published work in Oxford Economic papers [ link to DOI  10.1093/oep/gpw037].


Sarah_Brown_150x150On the 1st December 2016 InstEAD co director Sarah Brown gave a talk at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, based at the University of Oxford. Sarah presented ‘Saving behaviour, expectations and financial hardship’ as part of the Financial Planning for Later Life in the UK seminar series.


In this paper, we firstly analyse the relationship between savings and expectations at the individual level. Specifically, we explore the relationship between saving on a regular monthly basis and expectations as measured by subjective job insecurity and being pessimistic about future finances. We also focus on the influence of the prevailing macroeconomic environment. We exploit UK panel data covering 1996 to 2014 drawn from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society. Hence, our period of analysis covers the recent financial crisis. We then explore the effects of saving on a regular basis for future financial hardship in order to shed light on whether regular savings act as safety net for future financial difficulties. Our findings suggest that being pessimistic about future finances is positively associated with saving on a regular basis, which accords with precautionary saving motives. Our findings also indicate that saving on a regular basis is inversely associated with future financial hardship.

Follow the link for more information:

Dr Philip Powell

Dr Philip Powell

On Wednesday 2nd November 2017 InstEAD researcher Phillip Powell presented the paper “Heart Versus Head: The Effects of Differential Bodily Feedback on Altruistic and Invested Monetary Decisions” at the Behavioral Science Seminar Series at the Behavioural Science Centre, University of Stirling.

This is joint work with Jenny Roberts and partners at UCL.

More information on the paper is below:

Since antiquity, humans have upheld a metaphorical polarisation between their heart and head.  The former is emotional, warm, and compassionate; the latter is associated with cognitive, cold, and rational-thought.  In a novel experiment at UCL we tested the effect of providing people with feedback from their own, or a simulated partner’s, heart or head when engaging in either self-invested or altruistic economic decisions as part of an economic game known as the ‘investment game’.  Our data, analysed with multilevel models, suggest that participants were willing to invest more money when receiving feedback from their own head than either feedback from their own heart, or a no feedback control condition.  Conversely, participants returned altruistically a higher monetary proportion when receiving feedback from a simulated partner’s heart than either feedback from a simulated partner’s head, or a no feedback control condition.  These effects were moderated by participant’s trait cognitive and affective empathy.  While this study should be viewed as exploratory, it may have implications for the proliferation of biofeedback devices socially (e.g., EEG feedback for investment decisions); interpersonal communication using physiological indices (e.g., sending your heartbeat to someone via the Apple watch); and the charitable sector (e.g., emphasising heart-based qualities).



InstEAD co- director Professor Sarah Brown was invited to present the paper  ‘Portfolio Allocation, Background Risk and Households’ Flight to Safety’  (joint with Daniel Gray, Mark Harris and Christopher Spencer), at the ‘Financial inclusion, portfolio choice, and household saving in China and beyond’ workshop. The workshop was sponsored by the British Academy, and held at the University of Birmingham, on the  3-4th November 2016.

Analysing the US Survey of Consumer Finances and US Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we propose a deflated fractional ordered probit model to investigate the extent to which households reduce their financial risk exposure when confronted with background risk. Background risk exerts a significant impact on household portfolios, resulting in a ‘flight to safety’ away from riskier to safer assets. Our novel modelling approach quantifies how the overall asset composition in a portfolio adjusts with background risk, and is unique in recovering for, any given risky asset class, the shares that are re-allocated to a safer asset.


Sarah BrownInstEAD co-director Sarah Brown recently acted as a panel member at the OECD NAEC Seminar, Revisiting the Political Economy of Reform Following the Global Crisis

The conference took place at the OECD Conference Centre, CC06, Paris, on the 28th October 2016, and was supported by the Australian Department of Employment.

Sarah was a panelist for the session on ‘Common objectives, different approaches: Tackling low wages’ and spoke about political economy considerations of the operation of the UK’s National Minimum Wage and the National Living wage.

Attached is the issues paper and agenda for the seminar:

Agenda 26th October 2016 (PDF 82 KB)

political-economy-of-reform_booklet_final-2 (PDF 854 KB)