Our objective is to engage in innovative research that extends the frontiers of the discipline, deepening our understanding of the operation of modern economies. Research spans almost all the major sub-fields of economics with particular strengths in microeconomic theory, including behavioural economics; econometrics, both micro-econometrics and time series; economic history and development and international economics.

The University of Oxford is ranked 8th in the world and 2nd in Europe in the most recent Tilburg University ranking of Economics departments, based on research contribution for the period between 2012-2016.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) to evaluate the research output of UK Universities, Oxford was first in overall research strength in Economics and Econometrics, with more research ranked as ‘world-leading’ than any other participating institution. In a submission of 84 FTE academics, 56% of our research was rated as ‘world-leading’ (4*) and a further 33% rated as ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

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Policy and Impact

As one of Europe’s leading Economics departments, Oxford aims to inform and improve the development and implementation of economic and public policy in the UK and around the world. We do this by producing innovative research that extends the frontiers of the discipline and deepens our understanding of the operation of modern economies.

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Working Papers

Authors: Anja Tolonen

Feb 2019

Does industrial development change gender roles? This is the first paper to causally explore the effects of a continent-wide expansion of a modern industry on gender roles, captured by attitudes and behaviors. Identification relies on plausibly exogenous spatial-temporal variation in gold mining in Africa. The establishment of industrial-scale mines induces female empowerment—justification of domestic violence decreases by 19%, women have better access to healthcare, and are 31% more likely to work in services— alongside rapid economic growth. Findings are robust to assumptions about trends, distance, and migration and show that gender roles can change rapidly with economic development.

Revised February 2019

JEL Codes: O12; O13; J16

Keywords: Gender Roles, Female Empowerment, Local Industrial Development, Gold Mining

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Authors: Elizabeth Baldwin, Yongyang Cai, Karlygash Kuralbayeva

Feb 2019

Applying climate policy in practice means considering capital stocks: some assets will pro¬duce pollution whenever they are used, and some will not. Therefore long-term abatement plans should influence current investment. Moreover, newer technologies exhibit learning-by-doing in the deployment of associated infrastructure. We investigate these ideas from both theoretical and numerical perspectives. An increasing carbon tax will reduce investments in assets that pollute, and so reduce emissions in the short term: our “irreversibility effect”. We also show that the optimal innovation subsidy increases with the deployment rate: our “acceleration effect”. Considering second-best settings, we show that, although carbon taxes achieve stringent policy targets more efficiently, subsidies to the “renewables” sector deliver higher welfare when policy targets are more mild.

Revised February 2019

JEL Codes: O44, Q54, Q58

Keywords: Infrastructure, Clean and Dirty Energy Inputs, Renewable Energy, Stranded Assets, Carbon Budget, Climate Change Policies, Green Paradox

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Authors: Saeed Moshiri, Gry Østenstad, Wessel N. Vermeulen§

Feb 2019

This study investigates the effects of an oil boom on firms’ performance using data from the Canadian Annual Survey of Manufactures. We exploit the time variation of the booming natural resource sector activity in an oil-producing area with the location of manufacturing plants. We hypothesize that the effect of the booming sector on plants depends on their spatial proximity, which allows us to create an exogenous treatment variable. The outcome variables include plant-level wages, employment, sales, and exports. We find that the effect of the booming sector on the incidence of exporting varies greatly by plant-level productivity. More productive plants become more likely to export relative to less productive plants. They can do so by paying a higher wage, while employment grows less than plants that serve only the domestic market. We find that initial productivity and plants’ ability to export provides an important differentiation in average plants effects. In particular, while there is a great variety in the effect by sector, a clear linkage with the resource industry is not observed.

JEL Codes: L6, O4, R11, R15

Keywords: natural resources, heterogeneous firms, regional economics

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Authors: Peter Neary, Monika Mrázová

Feb 2019

We provide an overview and synthesis of recent work on models of monopolistic competition with heterogeneous firms in international trade, paying particular atten¬tion to pass-through, selection effects, competition effects, and matching endogenous with exogenous distributions. A recurring theme is that CES preferences are extremely convenient for deriving analytic results, but also extremely restrictive in their theoret-ical and empirical implications. We introduce the class of “constant-response demand functions” to describe some related families of demand functions that provide a unifying principle for much recent work that explores alternatives to CES demands.

JEL Codes: F12, L11, F23

Keywords: Heterogeneous Firms; Pass-Through; Quantifying Effects of Globalization; Super- and Sub-Convexity; Supermodularity

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Authors: Roberto Bonfatti, Yuan Gu, Steven Poelhekke

Jan 2019

Africa’s interior-to-coast roads are well suited to export natural resources, but not to support regional trade. Are they the optimal response to geography and comparative advantage, or the result of suboptimal political distortions? We investigate the political determinants of road paving in West Africa across the 1965-2012 period. Controlling for ge¬ography and the endogeneity of democratization, we show that autocracies tend to connect natural resource deposits to ports, while the networks expanded in a less interior-to-coast way in periods of democracy. This result suggests that Africa’s interior-to-coast roads are at least in part the result of suboptimal political distortions.

JEL Codes: P16, P26, D72, H54, O18, Q32

Keywords: political economy, democracy, infrastructure, natural resources, development

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