FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW

The Economics of Discrimination (Advert Reference: RDF22-R/BL/AFM/SILLES1)

   Faculty of Business and Law

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Prof Mary Silles  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Economists have long been interested in the presence of discrimination in markets. Labour market discrimination has been of particular concern because labour earnings are by far the most important source of income that individuals can obtain from their own resources. In addition, discrimination that takes place beyond the boundaries of the labour market can have major ramifications for earnings inequality. Nonlabour market discrimination refers to the differential treatment accorded a target population largely before they enter the labour force, which causes that group, on average, to be less well prepared and, therefore, less marketable than those not discriminated against. Aside from discrimination imposing serious personal costs on the individual members of the target population, there is also an overall loss of efficiency to society arising from the underallocation of scarce resources to relatively more productive members of the target group. The processes of discrimination, its nature and causes, the width and depth of its debilitating effects on the target population and the appropriate correctives are still not well understood.

The breadth and depth of research questions that can be addressed by the PhD candidate within this area is immense. Novel questions arise from already observed disparities in occupational opportunities among groups classified by categories such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, disability status and sexual minorities. Sexual minorities constitute a sizeable minority group which have received relatively little attention from economists despite cultural and political changes which have spawned work in other social sciences and the humanities. While this is one exciting direction in which the literature is heading and it is envisioned that this PhD will be among the first to attempt rigorous analysis of discrimination among sexual minority groups, other applications will be considered. The challenges associated with the economic analysis of discrimination are considerably more complex than simple empirical techniques can confront. This project will harness large-scale data sources and state-of-the-art econometric methods to document new facts about discrimination and economic mobility. For this reason, the PhD student should have the econometric ambitions, especially in data-driven research, to realise their research aspirations and make an impactful advance in empirical research on the general character of discrimination.

The outputs from this project will build on research included in the REF 2021 to advance empirical knowledge on the economics of discrimination. The findings of this project will be presented at conferences, published in reputable economics journals, and will support policy makers and businesses interested in alleviating discrimination.

The supervisory team will be led by Professor Silles and include colleagues based within the Department of Accounting and Financial Management. Professor Silles has significant expertise in the field of applied microeconometrics and has generated a large number of research papers analysing a broad range of issues among minority and marginalised groups in society.

This project is supervised by Prof Mary Silles.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/AFM/SILLES1) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 27th June 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for part-time applicants.


1. Silles, Mary. 2019. "The Labour Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing." Contemporary Economic Policy 37(4): 694-713.
2. Silles, Mary. 2018. "The Effects of Language Skills on the Economic Assimilation of Female Immigrants in the United States." The Manchester School 86(6): 789-815.
3. Silles, Mary. 2017. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Education: New Evidence from Adoptions in the United States." Economica 84(336): 748-778.
4. Silles, Mary. 2016. "The Impact of Children on Women's Labour Supply and Earnings in the United Kingdom: Evidence Using Twin Births." Oxford Economic Papers 68(1): 197-216.
5. Silles, Mary. 2015. "The Intergenerational Effect of Parental Education on Child Health: Evidence for the UK." Education Economics 23 (3): 455-470.
PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs