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The effects of economic crises on human behaviour and socioeconomic outcomes (Advert Reference: RDF22-R/BL/AFM/SILLES2)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Prof Mary Silles  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Neoclassical economic growth models predict that the effects of economic shocks on Gross Domestic Product will be temporary and countries will return to their steady state growth rates in the long run. However, the micro-level effects of macroeconomic shocks on individuals' outcomes can be profound with long-lasting consequences. This PhD project provides an unparalleled opportunity to produce a body of research that generates insights into the strategies adopted by households in response to economic crises and to evaluate the consequences of those strategies for a broad array of key welfare indicators including poverty, employment, health, fertility, and schooling. Applications to study a variety of past economic crises such as the global economic crisis that began in 2008 and the current economic crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic will be considered. The magnitude and unexpected nature of the current economic crisis are particularly stunning when contrasted with past economic shocks. In addition, current cohorts in education have suffered a loss of learning opportunities unprecedented in earlier economic crises. Because the current economic crisis was entirely unanticipated and has unique features that threaten to hit children hard, it provides an excellent laboratory for yielding insights into the effects of large negative economic shocks upon individuals and families and their response to these shocks. The impact of macroeconomic shocks on children has rarely been considered in the economic literature.

The challenges posed by this research will require the generation of a large-scale microeconomic dataset for individuals and households with linkages to macroeconomic indicators to explore the nature and extent of behavioural responses by individuals to economic shocks. Large and detailed data samples are necessary to measure the effects of shocks that occur to small fractions of the population and thereby provide sound micro-level evidence about the impacts of the various facets of the crisis and their variation across socio-economic and geographic strata. It is expected that PhD applicants would have a strong background in econometric analysis and good working knowledge of statistical packages such as STATA with the capacity to construct, organise and manage large datasets from existing secondary data.

The outputs from this project will expand on research included in the REF 2021 by the lead supervisor. The new findings of this project will be presented at conferences and published in reputable economics journals. This PhD will serve to highlight the role of microeconomic analysis in macroeconomic policy. For this reason, this research is expected to be of tremendous value to policy makers interested in understanding the effects of major economic crises on well-being and behaviour in society.

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 economic impacts on individuals including children.

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/SILLES2) 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 includes 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, Hyland, Marie, Layte, Richard, Lyons, Sean, and Selina McCoy. 2015. "Links between Government Broadband Subsidies for Primary Schools, Classroom Internet Use and Academic Performance: Evidence from Ireland." Economic and Social Review 46(3): 399-428.
6. Silles, Mary. 2015. "The Intergenerational Effect of Parental Education on Child Health: Evidence for the UK." Education Economics 23 (3): 455-470.
7. Silles, Mary. 2014. "The Impact of Children on Marital Stability in the United Kingdom." Applied Economics Letters 21(17): 1202-1205.
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