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Pollution Solutions, a Behavioural Economics investigation


Project Description

This project is linked to the IGI Theme Environmental Pollution Solutions. This is an international, multidisciplinary Research Team, based in Birmingham and at Nankai University (China) examining the Global Challenge of Pollution through collaboration between Natural and Social Science Researchers to identify workable and efficient solutions.

There are a range of areas of pollution being investigated within the theme across Birmingham and Nankai. This project will undertake research which examines how individuals make decisions that impact one or more of these areas.

- The project will explore the individual/consumer behaviour that influences pollution in a variety of settings. Examples of polluting behaviour include the demand for cheap fashion with consequences for water pollution, and the choice to drive cars for short journeys instead of taking public transport.

- The project will focus on identifying preferences that might drive polluting behaviour, and those that might be harnessed to mitigate it. Examples include delay discounting, probability weighting, and social norms.

- Preference parameters will be measured and related to polluting behaviour. This could be done using global preference surveys complemented by purpose built experiments with real incentives conducted in the lab (or the lab-in-the-field)
The project will aim to compare preferences and behaviour between the UK and China, aiming identify the degree to which differences in preferences can explain differences in pollution outcomes between these countries. Substantial differences in regulation, technology and economic development exist between these two countries, so disentangling the behavioural and the structural drivers of pollution will be an important challenge for the project.

The Doctoral Scholar will be a key researcher in this project. They will work with scientists engaged in understanding the science of pollution and social scientists who are working on understanding behavioural change and regulatory policy. Whilst the Doctoral thesis will be economics-based it will incorporate insights from both natural and social science.
Given the international aspect of the Birmingham/Nankai cooperation, the scholar will spend some time at Nankai as part of their research. They will also have the opportunity to engage with the research team in other countries (researchers in the Theme have many links internationally).

This project will suit candidates of high academic calibre who wish to conduct doctoral level study in the area of behavioural economics applied to the area of pollution reduction.
A successful applicant will hold a Bachelor degree in Economics with a 2:1 or first class honours (or overseas equivalent). They should also hold, or expect to achieve, a very good Masters degree in Economics or a closely related discipline, ideally with some experience studying behavioural and/or experimental economics. They should be enthusiastic about the opportunity to work in a policy-relevant, international setting and demonstrate their willingness and ability to engage with external stakeholders. They should be highly motivated and able to work both independently and as part of a team.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the Global Challenges Scholarship.
The award comprises:

Full payment of tuition fees at UK Research Councils UK/EU fee level (£4,327 in 2019/20), to be paid by the University;
An annual tax-free doctoral stipend at UK Research Councils UK/EU rates (£15,009 for 2019/20), to be paid in monthly instalments to the Global Challenges scholar by the University;
The tenure of the award can be for up to 3.5 years (42 months).

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