School of Economics Review 2020

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The School of Economics Magazine

Issue #2, 2020

School of Economics Review First in Family mentor program thrives

Worker trust and the water cooler

Q&A with Tony Aspromourgos

Becoming Valerie Khoo Page 42

Becoming Valerie Khoo: So you want to be a...?


From the Head of School —

It has been three years since the first edition was published and as I reflect on developments in the School over this time I am truly struck by the remarkable catalogue of achievements by our students, colleagues and alumni.

Welcome to the School of Economics Review. I am very

growth in enrolments of students studying economics

proud to present the second edition of the School of

is unsurprising for the subject is more vital than ever. As

Economics Review. It has been three years since the first

a society we seek to address the economic and social

edition was published and as I reflect on developments

challenges associated with the pandemic. A sound

in the School over this time I am truly struck by the

economics education is critical for informed leadership of

remarkable catalogue of achievements by our students,

organisations across all sectors of society, and to assist our

colleagues and alumni.

community networks in navigating the rapid economic and social changes we face.

Most immediately, I reflect on the unanticipated and ongoing changes to our teaching and research programs

From the immediate vantage point, focussed on continuing

in response COVID-19, with impacts extending well beyond

online and remote teaching whilst adapting to city-wide

our university. The last 18 months has seen impacts on

lockdowns, I am encouraged by the incredible record of

people’s health worldwide, overwhelmed health care

achievements by our students, colleagues and alumni over the

systems and continued economic and social dislocation

past three years. The following pages of this review provide a

associated with these health crises.

brief yet selective snapshot of a truly remarkable catalogue of impactful achievements. Some notable highlights include

In early 2020 the School of Economics rapidly switched to

celebrating the academic achievements of our 2019 student

remote online delivery of our entire teaching program. In

prize winners (p 6), project success involving many of our

concert, academic and professional teams did outstanding

School of Economics colleagues focusing on macroeconomic

work in quickly adapting to an online environment.

and trade policy research (p 8) and alumna success story

Providing an engaging and enriching learning experience

Valerie Khoo on how her economics degree was invaluable to

while achieving key learning outcomes was our keen

her career (p 42).

focus. At the same time we faced changes to academic research programs, including the nature and methods

It is a privilege to be Head of such a remarkable team of

of collaborations. Against this backdrop our students

academic and professional colleagues. I hope you enjoy

proved remarkably resilient and adaptive and the School

reading some of the activities in the School in this brief

of Economics continued on the trajectory of strong

overview. I encourage you to stay connected with the School

enrolment growth.

through our website and on social media.

Economics is one of the most popular undergraduate majors delivered by the University. The popularity of

Professor Garry Barrett

the postgraduate Master of Economics is reflected in

Head of the School of Economics

unprecedented increases in enrolments. The continuing

B


In this edition —

02 News in brief Highlights from the School of Economics. 04 Our academic staff Introducing some of newer colleagues and their research interests. 06 School Awards Night 2019 Celebrating our annual prizes and scholarships ceremony. 08 Global Perspectives in Economic Policy Professor James Morley talks collaboration between researchers and policy makers in the latest Faculty research initiative. 12 My path to finding economics Student, Shumi Ruan reminisces on how she came to love studying economics. 14 Life Course Centre re-bid The Life Course Centre has been awarded funding for another seven years. 16 Alumni feature: Roger Collison Alumnus Roger Collison talks career and continuous learning beyond university.

18 Beyond the classroom Former president of the student Economics Society (EconSoc), Amanuel Woldemariam on how joining the student society changed his university experience.

38 Worker trust and the water cooler Professor Andrew Wait on the changing nature of work post COVID-19 and how we can ensure innovation continues.

22 In pursuit of performance Alumnus Craig Hassall AM on his role as CEO of the Royal Albert Hall and his career in the creative arts.

42 Becoming Valerie Khoo: So you want to be a...? Alumna and CEO of Australian Writers’ Centre, Valerie Khoo merges her creative professions and her Economics degree.

26 Measuring food security and beyond Dr Chandana Maitra on re-thinking food security and how it links to poverty. 30 Economic policy amid disruption Recap of the 2020 Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture with keynote speaker, Dr Kerry Schott AO. 34 Q&A with Tony Aspromourgos Emeritus Professor Tony Aspromourgos talks postretirement life. 36 On breaking barriers and overcoming your greatest challenges Alumna Kerry Chikarovski on her career in politics and encouraging women to suceed.

44 First in Family Mentoring continues to thrive Our first in family students find success as they partner with our economics alumni to navigate the industry and their future careers. 48 Fighting poverty through private sector development Dr Russell Toth reflects on his research on private sector development in emerging economies in Asia-Pacific. 54 Research success A selection of the latest awards, grant success and publications. 60 Publications From 2018 - 2020

School of Economics Level 5, Social Sciences Building University of Sydney NSW 2006 +61 9351 5055 sydney.edu.au/economics

Produced by the School of Economics, University of Sydney 2021. All righs reserved. The University reserves the right to make alterations to any information contained within this publication without notice. CRICOS 00026A

E:econ.events@sydney.edu.au

The articles published reflect the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher and editorial team.

USydneyEcon

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News in brief

Professor Garry Barrett elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia Professor Garry Barrett, Head of the School of Economics, has been elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. He joins 37 other new Fellows elected to the Academy – a group of over 700 of Australia’s leading researchers and professionals across the social science disciplines. Fellows are elected by their peers, on the basis of a sustained and internationally distinguished contribution to their field. In the case of Professor Barrett, this contribution relates to his decades of work on the economics of inequality. “My research program has focused on measuring inequality, poverty and welfare, and assessing policies which aim to alleviate poverty and promote economic wellbeing,” he said.

congratulate Professor Barrett on his well-deserved election to the Academy. “His long-term research on economic inequality and income support—published in some of the most esteemed economic journals—has real-world implications, demonstrating the importance of the social sciences. “We are proud to support Garry’s academic pursuits, which began at this University, where he completed his Bachelor of Economics (Hons).” Professor Barrett said: “It is a terrific honour to be elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. The Academy promotes excellence in scholarship and provides evidence-based advice on social policy. I very much look forward to contributing to the Academy’s activities in support of social science research in Australia.”

“This research has involved both the development of new econometric methods and their application in evaluating of the impacts of policies and institutions.” Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Annamarie Jagose, said: “Along with my colleagues in the Faculty, I

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Founded in 1971, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia provides advice to governments on issues of national importance; promotes understanding and awareness of the social sciences; and coordinates international cooperation and collaboration in the social sciences.

Dr Emilia Tjernstrom recognised as leading researcher for Development Economics Dr Emilia Tjernstrom was named Australia’s leading researcher for Development Economics in ‘The Australian 2020 Research Report’. The report nominates leaders based on the researcher’s publications in top 20 journals within their field in the past five years that have the most citations by other researchers. The Research Report is a collaborative effort between The Australian and League of Scholars to recognise both leading researchers and the contributions of the research community towards solving Australian and global issues.


Economics graduate, Victoria Edghill takes out Sydney Genesis start-up competition for 2020

Graduating with a Bachelor of Economics and Social Science from the University of Sydney, Victoria has 15 years experience in the social impact and sustainability sectors. She then went on to forge a career Founder & CEO of Relievables, Victoria delivering technology solutions for Edghill, accepted the prize on behalf multinationals including eBay, DHL, of the team, competing against six BP and Fedex, putting her in good other startup founders for the award. stead for developing the Relievables With businesses facing more pressure technology solution. to operate responsibly, Victoria saw “Businesses play a pivotal role in a gap in the market to develop a solving many of the problems we platform that aggregates all impactface globally. Responsible practices, related activities for businesses, transparency, tangible action and empowering them to improve their accountability are essential to social and environmental impact. achieving this. We built the Relievables platform to accelerate this transition The Relievables platform offers and support businesses through this businesses the opportunity to process,” Victoria said. seamlessly manage their responsible business practices (from metrics, standards, projects and reporting) in a user-friendly and integrated way. Victoria Edghill was the 1016th participant in the Sydney Genesis program.

Read the full story: https://www. sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/ news/2020/11/11/responsiblebusiness-platform-wins-sydneygenesis-startup-compet.html

“The idea for Relievables came from working with organisations across a vast array of social and environmental issues and seeing the lack of standardised, integrated and userfriendly solutions. I started working on my own ethical fashion label using the principles and features our Relievables platform now offers and realised the value this would provide to all businesses,” said Victoria.

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Our Academic Staff

Emilia Tjernstrom

Onur Keston

Valentina Duque

What is your research interest? I seek to understand how households and firms in poor countries make decisions and how the market environment shapes behaviour. How do farmers choose what technology to use, given imperfect information and weather risk? How do firms respond to low levels of trust in product quality? Can we design policies and interventions that account for market failures and behavioural biases?

What is your research interest? I am interested in tackling “market design” problems. This is an emerging field of applied game theory that concerns identification of real-life problems and finding optimal practical solutions that have direct policy implications. My research concerns the investigation of how to design rules for allocating resources or how to organize successful marketplaces such as college/high-school admission plans, organ-exchange clearing houses, and blood donation banks. I would like to identify why certain market rules or institutions succeed and why others fail.

What is your research interest? My research focuses on understanding different factors that affect the process of human capital formation and the transmission of poverty across generations in both developed and developing countries.

To answer this broad set of questions, I try to leverage whatever tools are the most appropriate for the setting, be they randomized controlled trials, laboratory experiments, or other econometric methods. What are you looking forward to in your new role? I look forward to getting to know the academic community at the University and in Sydney and Australia more broadly. I can’t wait to get to know the students; advising student research is one of the things I love most about my job! What would you be if you weren’t an economist? Documentary photographer or photojournalist.

Where could we find you on the weekend? You can find me at the depths of the ocean in the eastern suburbs of Sydney waiting for a large pelagic fish to come by. I have always had a passion for spearfishing since I was a kid. Sydney presents many great opportunities to land your dream catch. I was lucky to recently shoot a 25kg kingfish shortly after moving to Sydney, which became my all-time record catch.

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In particular, my work has concentrated on two main research agendas: i) how investing early in children’s lives helps reduce longterm poverty and inequality (even at older ages) and ii) how disadvantaged families’ greater exposure to shocks (unemployment, pollution, violence) translate into worse human capital outcomes for their children, and for the subsequent generation. What are you enjoying the most about your role at the School of Economics? The School is a very stimulating environment to conduct research and to explore new and exciting research avenues! What I’m enjoying the most are the informal interactions with my colleagues, and as an international researcher, learning about the Australian institutional landscape and discussing with my colleagues how to leverage variation to evaluate social policies!


Hugh Harley

James Graham

What is your research interest? My main teaching and research interest is the development of the global economy over the long-run, especially over the past 1000 years, and using this to help frame today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. This includes the interplay between economic, social, legal and environmental factors. I am also very interested in efforts to improve soil health on a global scale. Of the three great biospheres – soil, oceans, atmosphere – soil is the only one for which we have a fighting chance of remediating in the next decade or so. And I try to keep across developments in banking, where I spent much of my career.

What is your research interest? I am broadly interested in macroeconomics, but I am particularly interested in the macroeconomics of housing. In recent work, I have studied: the effect of fluctuations in house prices on household consumption patterns; the importance of investors in the housing market during a housing downturn; the propagation of inter-generational inequality through families that sort into neighbourhoods with unequal school funding; and the labour market consequences of lockdowns and wage subsidy policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you enjoying the most about your new role? My motivation to return to a formal appointment in the School of Economics - after a pause of nearly 35 years - is all about the privilege of teaching. I enjoy the energy of students and colleagues, and the challenge of reducing the complex to the tractable. One of my mottos is “all education is entertainment” – it’s all about giving students reasons to come back next week. So definitely the teaching. I also love one-on-one mentoring of students.

What are you enjoying the most about your role at the School of Economics? Exposure to the thoughts and musings of fantastic colleagues working on a diverse range of topics in economics. What are you currently reading/ watching/listening to? The Great Influenza by John M. Barry (which is only ok); Fargo season 3 (which is great); and ‘90s grunge music (which is grunge-tastic).

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School of Economics Awards Night Each May, the School of Economics celebrates the achievements of our students. We would like to thank our donors, for without their generosity and support, none of the following prizes would be possible. 2019 Award Recipients Arthur Oakes Memorial Prize for History of Economic Thought Catherine PRIESTLEY

Class of 1966 International Transition Prize Christopher WALKER Commonwealth Bank Undergraduate Scholarship in Economics Callum RYAN

Donald George Crew Memorial Prize for Economics III Michael FREEMAN Jeffrey GU Callum RYAN Katelin SCHELKS Benjamin UNG

Frank Albert Prize for Third Year Economics Michelle CRIPPS Patrick MEYER Katelin SCHELKS

Geoffrey Dale Prize for Third Year in the Faculty of Economics and Business Elysha COPE Noah KAPLAN Callum RYAN Benjamin UNG Junting XUE

GS Caird Scholarship in Economics II Zachary DURETTO

Joye Prize in Economics James STRATTON

Dr Mary Booth Scholarship for Proficiency in First and Second Year by a Woman Candidate

Kelvin Dodge Scholarship

Isobel MCKAY

Zachary DURETTO

Economic Research Society’s Prize for Economics I

Mary Henderson (Gerstle) Undergraduate Scholarship in Economic History

Dominique D’NETTO

Jessica OTTAVI

Emily McWhinney Memorial Prize in Economics Jenny LIU

Michael Casper Blad Memorial Prize for Economic Theory

Evening Students’ Association Prize for Economics III

Deepak HARISH

Adrian PERONACE

Randolph G Rouse Prize in Economics Frank Albert Prize for First Year Economics

James STRATTON

Dominique D’NETTO

Walter Noel Gillies Prize for Best PhD Thesis in Economics Frank Albert Prize for Second Year Economics

Ang LI

Zachary DURETTO

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[4] Captions 1. Joye Prize winner, James Stratton was unable to attend but his parents delightfully accepted his award. Pictured here holding the Joye Prize Shield with Associate Professor Abhijit Sengupta 2. Our 2019 Award winners 3. Chris Walker wth Honours thesis supervisor, Dr Rami Tabri 4. Adrian Peronace with family 5. Jessica Ottavi with Head of School, Professor Garry Barrett

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Global Perspectives on Economic Policy New research initiative brings researchers and policymakers together to improve models for open economies. Written by Professor James Morley

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Image: Perry Warjiyo, Governor of Bank Indonesia presents his lecture at the University of Sydney

A number of members of the School of Economics are involved in a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences research theme “Global Perspectives on Economic Policy”. The focus of the initiative is to investigate how macroeconomic and trade policies impact open economies, such as Australia’s. The Global Perspectives research theme has been funded since mid 2018 as one of the “FutureFix” projects sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and has supported a number of activities designed to improve research on open economies. These activities involve close interaction and collaboration with policymakers throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond to develop more useful models for economic policy analysis from a more global perspective. A highlight example of our activities has been the development of the Sydney Open Economy Model Hub (sydney.edu.au/arts/open-economy-model-hub). The model hub provides free access to code for a variety of economic models and econometric tools that are particularly relevant for open economies. This includes the multisector DSGE model used by the Reserve Bank of Australia to perform scenario forecasting. The most recent version of the model that includes a housing sector was developed by Dr Christopher Gibbs, a Senior Lecturer in

the School of Economics, along with researchers from the Reserve Bank. Other available models can be used to examine the effects of unconventional macroeconomic policies such “forward guidance” when economies hit the zero lower bound on interest rates. Some future models to be made available are related to the $349,000 ARC Discovery Project from 2019-2021 on “Fiscal Policy and Unemployment in an Open Economy” awarded to Professors Mariano Kulish and James Morley in the School of Economics and will address sectoral shifts in labour markets and long-term changes in commodity prices. We have also launched a podcast series featuring conversations with economists from various policy institutions worldwide who have visited the University of Sydney as part of the Global Perspectives initiative or remotely following the COVID-19 crisis. These conversations are designed to improve understanding of the role of economic models and research in policymaking, with a particular focus on the need for models that are relevant to open economy settings. The podcasts are available at sydney.edu.au/arts/global-perspectives and have included researchers from the Federal Reserve System, the Norges Bank, and the Bank of Finland. In early 2020, a podcast with Andy Neumeyer, former Chief Economist of the Central Bank of Argentina, addressed the particular challenges for macroeconomic policy in 09


Images: Guest Benjamin Wong with podcast hosts, Chris Gibbs and Aarti Singh (left), podcasting online with Aarti Singh, Mariano Kulish, Chris Gibbs, guest Bruce Preston and James Morley (right)

emerging economies. In another podcast, Galina Hale, a Research Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, shared her insights into role of economic research in informing policy at the Fed during the global financial crisis, the European sovereign debt crisis, and Brexit. More recently, we have discussed the consequences and policy implications of the COVID crisis with a number of researchers, including Callum Jones from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Greg Kaplan from the University of Chicago. Our team members are involved in research collaboration with economists from the Bank for International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund, the Australian Treasury, the Bank of Canada, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Bank of Finland, amongst others. The Global Perspectives initiative has supported this collaboration through visits to University of Sydney by researchers from policy institutions and by our team members to the relevant policy institutions. We also hosted two highly successful public lectures by senior policymakers in 2019. The first, in July of that year, was a lecture on central bank communication strategies by Eli Remolona, former Regional Head for Asia and the Pacific at the Bank for International Settlements and current Director of Central Banking at the Asia School

of Business. The second, in October 2019 was a lecture on the evolution of central bank policy tools to maintain price stability while safeguarding financial stability by Perry Warjiyo, Governor of Bank Indonesia, with a Q&A moderated by Dr Luci Ellis, Assistant Governor (Economic) at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Future activities include more formal interactions with policy institutions in Australia and overseas to further develop models that are relevant beyond the large economy context of the United States or European Union. We also plan to increase the number of PhD students at the University of Sydney working on dissertation topics related to open economy issues. Also, keep an eye out for events including public lectures, virtual or otherwise, related to the Global Perspectives theme in 2021! James Morley is Professor of Macroeconomics at the University of Sydney and Co-Director of the “Global Perspectives on Economic Policy” initiative for the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. He is a Fellow of the International Association for Applied Econometrics and Co-Editor of The Economic Record. His research is on the empirical analysis of business cycles, stabilization policy, and sources of persistent changes in macroeconomic and financial conditions. 10


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[4] Captions 1. Eli Remolona presenting his lecture, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover 2. Professor Mariano Kulish, Dr Denny Lie, Eli Remolona and Professor James Morley 3. Governor of Bank Indonesia, Perry Warjiyo with Luci Ellis (Assistant Governor (Economic) at the Reserve Bank of Australia 4. Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Phillip Lowe shakes hands with Governor of Bank Indonesia, Perry Warjiyo 5. Luci Ellis and School of Economic academics with the Bank Indonesia delegation

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My path to finding Economics From learning French, taking on Honours year and co-founding the Women in Economics and Business Society (WEBS), Shumi Ruan uncovers her journey to embracing Economics.

Written by Shumi Ruan, Bachelor of Economics (Hons)/Bachelor of Laws

Only after you make it to the other side of a university degree does it become possible to reflect on the choices that led to deeming a single academic discipline worthy of four long years. In some ways, this would have been a neater story if I had been driven by a burning passion for economics straight out of high school into the buzzing lecture halls of the University of Sydney. However, I was not one of those lucky few. Instead, I stumbled in a slightly longwinded fashion into my Bachelor of Economics.

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During my first few semesters at the University of Sydney, I tentatively kept my options open by enrolling in an ambiguous Bachelor of Arts alongside my Bachelor of Laws. This was my way of keeping a finger in each pie and not having to make a definitive choice between my two high school passions: economics as taught through the NSW HSC curriculum and a serious case of adolescent Francophilia. The introductory economics courses I enrolled in helped me to expand my understanding of economics far beyond the study of the Australian macroeconomy which I was familiar with from high school.


Suddenly, economics was everywhere. Pursuing economics at university gave me access to a broad range of analytical, statistical and research tools with which it was possible to tackle a wide range of policy and industry issues. The skills we learnt and the discussions we had in class became blindingly relevant to understanding all the major contemporary conundrums of the world; from climate change to geopolitics, from the outbreak of a virus to the tech revolution. Studying economics encouraged me to engage broadly with the discipline through these global aspects. With the support of the School of Economics, I was fortunate enough to spend a semester abroad on exchange at the University of Geneva. This was an invaluable opportunity to experience Swiss economic pedagogy, surrounded by copious amounts of cheese and bread. Throughout my degree, I also had access to a multitude of internships and industry experiences, from a crash-course in investment management with Pendal to an eightweek intensive in the epicentre of economic policy at the Reserve Bank of Australia. By far, the most memorable moments at university were created during my Honours year. It was not just because the year coincided with the move to the new Social Sciences Building with its shiny mirrors and lush kitchen facilities. The courses were inevitably rigorous and challenging, although this made them particularly engaging. In amongst the study, our Honours cohort managed to spend a fair share of the year at frequent long lunches and on multiple coffee runs. This was how we were able to come together

as friends and conspirators. It is hard to not be swept up in the passions of your fellow classmates as they fervently conduct research in these different fields, getting a taste of life as an academic. We were able to work closely and intimately with academics at the School who selflessly dedicated their time, resources and wisdom to guiding us through the Honours year. It was also a real highlight to work as a tutor for the School of Economics. The opportunity to be at the front of the classroom was edifying. As new tutors, we had a lot of fun passing on a few shared experiences to the eager, and often confused, first year students whose shoes we were just in.

“The skills we learnt and the discussions we had class became blindingly relevant to understanding all the major contemporary conundrums of the world; from climate change to geopolitics, from the outbreak of a virus to the tech revolution.” In early 2018, two close friends and I set out to create a new student society, Women in Economics and Business (WEBS), after often lamenting that there was no student association on campus whose purpose was to promote gender equality and diversity within economics and business. In the third year of our degree, we were painfully aware that these were fields where women remain substantially disadvantaged in their career prospects, not just in terms of enrolment and attrition at the university level. Having witnessed gender imbalances within the classroom, creating a student society 13

was our way of taking action to address the experiences of female-identifying students in their studies at University. Whilst it was important for me to use this platform as a way to champion diversity and inclusion, the events that we hosted ultimately created an inter-disciplinary and inter-cohort community. Through a range of social, academic and career-focused events, WEBS has become a way for current students to connect and to meet alumni, and it is exciting to see this broad group of women has been growing rapidly. I finally did make the definitive switch to a Bachelor of Economics. I became increasingly enamoured by the endless possibilities of economics. It became blindingly obvious that, despite my love for French, the study of economics sat powerfully at the nexus of science, statistics, as well as the humanities – particularly its integration with history, politics and philosophy. There is little else that surpasses the strength of this disciplinary combination. Although I have another year of my law degree to finish up, I hope to continue my working with economics in the immediate future by continuing to tutor. My path into economics may have involved a bit of fumbling and a whole lot of hesitation, but it has been a genuine delight to study a diverse range of topics, relevant to both the local and global community, here at this illustrious School of Economics.


New chief investigators to take centre into a new direction After a successful re-bid, the Life Course Centre (LCC) continues to research ways to tackle economic disadvantage. Written by Deborah Cobb-Clark, Nick Glozier and Agnieszka Tymula

The Australian Research Council in 2019 announced over $32 million in research funding to continue the support for the Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course. Professors Deborah Cobb-Clark and Agnieszka Tymula from the School of Economics and Professor Nick Glozier from the Faculty of Medicine and Health are the Chief Investigators involved in this Centre. The Centre aims to deliver transformative research and policy

recommendations to break the cycle of deep and persistent disadvantage for Australians. While it may seem that in a country as wealthy as Australia, the problem of economic disadvantage is not significant, unfortunately in the last 20 years, economic inequality in Australia has increased dramatically. The income share going to the top 1% has increased so much that in 2015, an Australian in the top 20% of income 14

earned five times as much as someone in the bottom 20% and held 70 times the wealth. On current rates of social mobility, it is projected that Australian children now in the bottom decile of family income will have to wait more than 100 years to attain average incomes. Currently, more than one third of Australia’s population receive welfare payments, and their future lifetime cost is estimated at $4.8 trillion, or approximately three times Australia’s current GDP.


in such areas as neurodevelopment and sleep science with neuroeconomics, and drawing on research approaches from different disciplines.

The Life Course Centre will focus on developing new knowledge and solutions for Australian children and families to overcome the challenges of disadvantage. The centre was originally established in 2014 and is led by the University of Queensland. Since then, the Life Course Centre has undertaken ground-breaking work on deep and persistent disadvantage, particularly in the area of transgenerational transmission of disadvantage and welfare dependency.

The collaborations with academic and non-academic institutions across Australia in the new Life Course Centre will enable the scale of work required to understand, and intervene in, the individual, family, and community factors causing the entrenched poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and unemployment experienced by too many Australians. The Life Course Centre’s industry and government collaborators include the Department of Social Services, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, NSW Treasury, Anglicare, Brotherhood of St Laurence, NSW Treasury, CBA, Goodstart Early Learning LTD, National Growth Areas Alliance, the Trustee for the Minderoo Foundation.

The new direction of the Life Course Centre is to tackle disadvantage in specific contexts to understand how people negotiate it daily in real places, and how best to design policies and programs that support improved life pathways.

Currently, more than one third of Australia’s population receive welfare payments, and their future lifetime cost is estimated at $4.8 trillion, or approximately three times Australia’s current GDP.

By understanding life course contexts much more finely and using new methods and better data to personalise responses to disadvantage, the Centre will deliver the evidence, infrastructure, capacity and partnerships to reduce disadvantage and better equip Australian children and families for emerging challenges.

Professors Cobb-Clark, Glozier, and Tymula will be central to the development of pioneering work on the cognitive science of disadvantage, a major innovation in the centre’s research program that will investigate the reciprocal relationship between economic disadvantage, cognition and decision-making. The Sydney node will link researchers across the two Faculties combining strengths

To learn more about the Centre: https://www. lifecoursecentre.org.au

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The stock market crash that started it all Alumni Roger Collison reflects on his learnings and the 1987 stock market crash that inspired his career Written by Karen Ho

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If there is one piece of career advice Roger Collison has for graduating students, it is that university is just the beginning of lifelong learning. “Completing your degree should be the start to a journey. It opens a great number of alternatives both in terms of careers and in terms of opportunities for further knowledge gain,” Roger says. Currently the Chairman and Director of DMX Corporation and DMX Asset Management, Roger graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) in 1989. Since then, he has completed an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW), two graduate diplomas in both Applied Corporate Governance and Applied Finance, qualified as a Chartered Financial Analyst and is currently studying towards his second MBA from Chicago Booth. That is not to count numerous other professional body qualifications. “One thing I took away fromthe University of Sydney was the importance of further studies as it is from these that you can keep up with the new young trainee and the latest big insights.”

McKinsey and at Accenture as an analyst, eventually becoming Director of Credit Suisse. In 2006, he became Head of Research and Fund Manager at Tyndall Asset Management before later moving to DMX Corporation and Asset Management. A significant event that Roger remembers as an undergraduate student was the October 1987 stock market crash. The experience would go on to cement his decision to be involved with the markets. “The “chalkies” used to write the bid/ask quotes on the white board,” Roger recalls. “I was fascinated by the range of emotions displayed - both in the pit and in the visitor’s gallery. I remember one old man holding up a big sign to the glass wall “Don’t Panic!”, which was of course exactly what everyone was doing. This was the biggest oneday fall (in percentage terms) since October 1929. A real experience. I still have framed copies of the newspapers reporting on the two downturns. These serve to remind me, every day, that the next big down day may be just around the corner.”

trade on information and insights based around human misjudgement and behavioural economics. Reflecting on the current economic climate, Roger is aware of how much of a challenge COVID-19 will be to the Australian and world economy. His prediction is that there will be bankruptcies and general weakening in corporate and individual confidence. In terms of the markets, Roger says, “Being a value investor, I always become more excited and animated when there is market weakness, as we have now. There should be huge opportunities in the market now. The task for me, and my team at DMX, are to identify the best prospects.”

After 25 years of investment experience, Roger shows no signs of slowing down as he continues his training for what will come next. His advocacy for future study is clear and he urges students to continue learning – regardless of location. “I have qualifications from the US, Europe, and Australia. My current degree is from a US university but is being taught in Hong Kong.” Beyond the continuous learning, it was only fitting Roger noted One of the most important lessons the greatest significance from his time Roger would come to understand Before selecting his first degree, about the markets was the importance at university, “My recollections of this period would be incomplete without Roger was like many other high school of behavioural economics in human mentioning that I met the lady that graduates. “I was not very clear decision-making. “In 1987 the subject would become my wife, Elizabeth, at what I wanted – I knew it was not of behavioural economics was just in medicine (my family’s preferred career its infancy. Daniel Kahneman and Amos the end of first year and that we will be married 30 years later this year.” path) and probably had something Tversky had set out Prospect Theory to do with business.” He distinctly less than 10 years earlier and their remembers meeting Judith Yates ideas were still not mainstream, but I (now Honorary Associate Professor was clear that this was an important at the School of Economics) during step forward for the profession and I his orientation. It became clear from could see that it had direct application their conversation that his ambitions to business.” As part of his MBA at and priorities would be the language Chicago Booth, Roger furthered his of business. All three topics that knowledge in this area after taking a Roger eventually studied at university class on behavioural economics taught – economics, accounting and law – by Nobel Laureate, Richard (Dick) would become strong foundational Thaller who is famous for authoring subjects for his career. the book, ‘Nudge’. Roger is now incorporating behavioural economics After graduating, Roger worked in into his latest venture, Fitzroy Value Image courtesy of Roger Collison accounting at PwC, consulting at Fund which is a start-up aiming to 17


Amanuel Woldemariam

Beyond the classroom: my student society experience Written by Amanuel Woldemariam, Bachelor of Economics/Bachelor of Advanced Studies

When I first came to the University of Sydney, I felt out place. Having graduated from a high school with only four of the 100-strong class attending the University of Sydney, it was a daunting experience not knowing anyone. So, I began university life feeling incredibly lonely and lost. I soon made my first friend in my first ECMT 1010 Introduction to Economic Statistics tutorial. To this day, they are still one of my closest friends and together we set out to get to know more of our classmates. Surprisingly, I had not heard of the Economics Society until by chance, I went to a welcome event in my first semester. 18

I was amazed that students were able to organise their own events for people studying a similar degree. After meeting and talking to people who were as passionate about Economics as I was, I realised I had come to the right place. It was clear from those conversations, we truly believed that Economics had to the ability to be the catalyst for tangible change in the lives of ordinary people. In our naivety – and the benefit of hindsight – we believe we knew much more than we did, but I suppose that is a corollary of being the oldest students in the playground back in high school.


“If you are a student reading this, wondering whether you should sign up for subcommittee or go to that Annual General Meeting to get involved – I urge you to do so. The experience that will come to pass will be almost as good as the world-class education you will receive here at the University of Sydney.” Image: Warren Tease, Treasury Chief Adviser, Financial Markets

I knew I wanted to be a part of this student society. I applied to be part of the subcommittee and was elected to a role in the Careers portfolio. I admit to having no idea what the job entailed, but I was excited. My first bit of involvement I had was helping to move chairs when we invited Secretary to Treasury, John Fraser to present a talk. We had just over 20 people attend. I felt very privileged to have met someone who played such a critical role in economics and felt proud to have asked questions that were triggered by my own curiosities. While I enjoyed that event, I could safely say my next

step with the Economics Society was much more exciting. I was elected Vice-President of the Careers portfolio. With the co-operation of the whole team, we hosted our first ever Private Industry Night. We brought together representatives from the ‘Big 4’ professional services firms to meet our members. This was my first time organising a major networking event and I learned a considerable amount about how to run and event and engage with industry. All in all, it was a successful event with it all going to plan. However, I soon learned that it does not always happen that way. 19

Our careers speaking event hit a road bump when we had our keynote speaker cancel two weeks from the advertised date because of a last-minute engagement they could not postpone. We were left with an advertised speaking event with students signed up to attend, a venue booked and catering organised but no speaker. It was times like these where the hard lessons were learned. We were lucky enough to have found a replacement and had the event go ahead. It taught me a lot about adaptability and finding a way, no matter what.


“I think this is the best aspect of being part of something you can be proud of – it is the memories and the people I will cherish over the many years to come.” Image: R: Jai Ojha

The following year, we held our Private Industry Night again. This time, we had 11 firms send representatives. Talk about growth! With it came more effort and time to organise it, but I can wholeheartedly say it was worth it. I learned a week after hosting our event that a student attendee secured a role at one of the firms represented on the night. In the same year, I had the privilege of being elected President of the society. I now had the responsibility of overseeing all the events that the society runs. From the skills and experience I have picked up, the one that sticks with me going ahead is the

importance of having trustworthy people on which you can rely upon. Conversely, also be someone they can rely on. As the academic year starts, we are excited to hold bigger and better events for our members and bring together the next generation of EconSoc executives. I recently caught up with a former EconSoc executive who I met though my involvement with the society. They are now in the workforce. We spent our lunch time reminiscing about all the ‘hustling’ that our inexperienced selves passed in our attempt to ensure our events were not total disasters.

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I think this is the best aspect of being part of something you can be proud of – it is the memories and the people I will cherish over the many years to come. If you are a student reading this, wondering whether you should sign up for sub-committee or go to that Annual General Meeting to get involved – I urge you to do so. The experience that will come to pass will be almost as good as the world-class education you will receive here at the University of Sydney.


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In pursuit of performance Craig Hassall AM reflects on his career and leading the iconic Royal Albert Hall Written by Karen Ho

It may surprise some to know that at the helm of the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London is a University of Sydney alumnus and an Economics graduate. CEO of Royal Albert Hall, Craig Hassall AM, has been leading the cultural institution since 2017. With an impressive career that includes executive roles at Opera Australia, the English National Ballet and the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games, Craig has managed to fuse together both his

passion for the arts with his training in economics. From his hometown of Gilgandra in country New South Wales, to studying at the University of Sydney then to the stages of Royal Albert Hall in London, it seems fitting that the first piece of advice Craig had for his younger self is to “be open to all opportunities.” Looking back at his time at university, it is amusing to consider how beautiful architecture and stunning visuals 22

likely had more influence on Craig than most. He admits, “I essentially chose the University of Sydney not for its curriculum, reputation or alumni, but rather for its buildings. The grand Sydney sandstone and the imposing halls had me from the get-go. Once there, I had a grand time.” Craig can fondly recall memories of coffee in the Wentworth Building, his radical lecturers and the contributions of Honi Soit to campus life.


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His memories are filled with nostalgia as he remembers the atmosphere of the university as “a place to ponder, debate, learn about collegiality and feel nothing was impossible.” Craig completed both an Economics and Law degree but also enrolled in a wide range of subjects which piqued his interest. “I had chosen the most interesting subjects (in my opinion) that were not perhaps the strongest career wise (though in hindsight perhaps they were!) but hugely important for expanding the mind – Anthropology, Industrial Relations, Political Economics – all so fascinating and analytical. I had a great time of it.” In his current role as CEO of Royal Albert Hall, Craig has found both his two Economics and Law degrees immensely useful, despite initially not seen as the most applicable to a career in the creative arts. Like most industries, even the highly creative performing arts will often grind to a halt due to one of two factors – the budget or the contract. Each day as CEO of a venue such as Royal Albert Hall is as varied as the types of performances and productions the venue showcases. Within his role, Craig categorises the key elements as strategy and planning, staff welfare and encouragement, artistic planning, capital works, blue sky thinking for future growth and developing business plans for the future. However, his role is not without a few surprises and random tasks as Craig acknowledges, “for example, I am currently in the midst of grappling with what to do with a massive portrait of a famous British singer that has been gifted to the Royal Albert Hall.” When asked to reflect on his career highlights, there are two which stand out for Craig. Most notably, delivering the 2000 Sydney Olympics when it was a key, pivotal moment

for Australia and bringing in the new millennium. It was a task that Craig admits was extremely high stakes to pull off but was ultimately immensely rewarding for the team involved. Equally high on his list was being asked to present Swan Lake at the Palace of Versailles – on a lake, no less - when he was leading the English National Ballet. “We sold out three performances and nothing could rival the arrival of the Prince who seemed to run down from the Hall of Mirrors – in the chateau – through the topiaries and onto the stage. Magical!”

“[The University of Sydney] was a place to ponder, debate, learn about collegiality and feel like nothing was impossible.” A career in the creative arts is not the traditional trajectory for economics graduates but it is quite clear Craig has been able to forge both his skills and passion. When asked about the importance of pursuing one’s passions in their professional life, Craig says, “I can’t imagine why anyone would embark on a career that doesn’t incorporate one’s passions. Even a financial incentive – a high salary, a super package etc – will not in the final analysis, suffice. One spends so many hours at work – it accounts for a huge part of one’s social life, it is the main topic of conversation at a party, it is how we are all described – why on earth would passion not be the driver for this pursuit.” When asked to consider advice to his younger self, Craig admits it is a question he often contemplates. Along with being open to all opportunities, he would tell himself, “don’t accept second best, change career at least three times before you are 30 and beware “imposter syndrome – it is an illusion!” 24

The Royal Albert Hall, like many venues and creative organisations across the world, has been struck by the impact of the coronavirus. Craig had to take the difficult decision to close the doors of the Royal Albert Hall for the first time since the Blitz and now for the longest time in its 150 year history. The focus had gone from programming and fundraising to lobbying government and working closely with the creative industries in the UK to raise the profile of a sector in crisis and find a way to safely re-open. The organisation has lost millions of pounds in income however has maintained a strong profile through digital engagement, closed concert recordings and a concerted press campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the situation. Craig remains positive despite this situation and looks forward to a ‘new normal’ that includes, once again, a lively performance culture. -Since this interview was taken, it was annoucend that the venue will re-open on Saturday 29 May 2021. Under government guidelines, 1,000 tickets will be available for each of the concerts, 20 per cent of the Hall’s usual capacity.


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Measuring food security and beyond Food security is a complex and difficult concept to measure but necessary in understanding poverty. Written by Dr Chandana Maitra

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Economists have long been concerned with poverty, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest curses on humanity. However, relatively little attention has been paid to food insecurity – an equally destructive economic factor with a potential to cause depletion of human capital.

Research in the US and Canada offers strong evidence that food insecurity in early years of life can substantially incapacitate a child. The adverse effects on physical, mental, and cognitive development of children are significant unless interventions are offered at the right stage. Hence, food insecurity may incur huge social and economic costs. One of the underlying assumptions economists worked with was that addressing poverty would automatically tackle food insecurity. A broad goal of my research has been to highlight the importance of understanding food insecurity from an economic standpoint.

micronutrient deficiency. The latter is a more serious threat to cognitive development and physical wellbeing. The literature on food security measurement was growing at that time, evolving to keep up with changes in the definition and concept of food security in its attempt to come up with reliable and valid indicators. Barring a few, the majority of countries including India and Australia, did not have any national level measure of food security. Existing indicators were ad hoc, and applied without rigorous external/internal validation, often moving in different directions.

Given the multidimensionality in the concept of food security, such chaos was not surprising. The current I started with some simple but fundamental questions: definition of food security comprises four key dimensions: Who are the food insecure? Why are they food insecure? availability, access, utilisation, and stability. This implies What type of policies can address food insecurity at the that no single indicator is suitable to measure food security micro level? The overwhelming importance of accurate - instead a suite of indicators is required. Another key identification of who the food insecure were was element in the concept of food security is vulnerability. particularly crucial for a country like India where, despite Even if a household or individual is food secure today, rapid economic growth, food insecurity and malnutrition they may become food insecure tomorrow. Hence, the are massive economic and public health problems. indicators must evolve in a way to capture the uncertainty A reliable and cost-effective metric to measure food and dynamism in food insecurity. It was also important insecurity is needed to ensure efficient targeting of the to recognize the subtle differences in the closely related vulnerable. The other motivation was to look for indicators concepts of food security (an ex-ante status); and hunger, which would go beyond the conventional calorie-centric undernourishment, or malnutrition (ex-post outcomes). approach to formulating food security policies, particularly The other challenge was to capture the element of choice in India. ‘Calorie fundamentalism’, as labelled by some and social acceptability embedded in the definition of food researchers, fails to recognize that the concept of food security – the adequate access to healthy and preferred security comprises the risk of macronutrient as well as food obtained in socially acceptable ways. Where it began

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Figure 1: Distribution of households by food security status in Kolkata slum households, 2010 (author’s calculations) Metric to measure access to food My research focused on measuring economic access to food. The simplest way to define food access is in terms of ‘purchasing power’. My search led me to a relatively new measurement approach – experience-based food security scale which is constructed using people’s lived experience of food insecurity. The underlying hypothesis is that hunger is a managed process to cope with inadequate supplies of food and resources to obtain food. Originally developed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Cornell University, the experiential scales were recently adapted to suit the requirements of developing countries in the form of Food Insecurity Experience Scale, the official Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator (2.2.1) to track SDG 2 of ‘zero hunger’. The statistical model that provides the theoretical basis for the experiential scales is the single parameter Rasch model, with roots in Item Response Theory. It is commonly employed to construct IQ tests intended to measure ‘ability’. Once the scale is constructed, a household (or the individual) can be categorised as food secure, marginally food insecure, moderately food insecure or severely food insecure. I adapted the original US food security scale to develop a similar metric for India, modifying the scale items to suit local food habits and cultural context. In 2012, the Kolkata Household Food Security Scale was developed, using data collected from a primary survey of Kolkata slum households in 2010 (as seen in Figure 1). The scale was tested to be reliable and valid.

Experiential food insecurity vs poverty and undernourishment The development of experiential scale measures reflects the changes in the literature on measurement of food security. Previously proxy/indirect measures were used, which relied on determinants of food insecurity such as income/poverty. Indirect measures also included consequences of food insecurity such as undernourishment (calorie poverty)/or malnutrition. This new development offers a direct measure of food insecurity which relies on people’s word of mouth experience of food insecurity. When combined with these proxy indicators, multi-item experiential scale measures can ensure the most robust identification of the food insecure households. A series of three papers examined the association of experiential food insecurity with poverty, undernourishment, and malnutrition. We found evidence of direct association between these indicators. However, there was a lack of one-to-one correspondence – for example, considerable food insecurity exists in non-poor households. In the Kolkata sample, 8% of non-poor households were food insecure. Similarly, a large fraction of food secure households were calorie poor. My results resonated that food insecurity may not just be a poor man’s problem, a dichotomy which has perhaps been glaringly exposed by COVID-19! Previous research in the US had raised similar concerns. From policy perspectives, the results imply that anti-poverty policies targeting the poor households may miss the food insecure sitting in non-poor households. 28


Experiential food insecurity vs malnutrition A more complex relationship exists between food insecurity and nutritional outcomes – undernutrition (stunting, underweight, wasting) as well as overnutrition (overweight, obesity). Malnutrition is a potential, but not necessary, consequence of food insecurity. Nutritional status is directly related to the ‘utilisation’ component of food security -how food is absorbed by the body. This is turn is influenced by an array of non-food factors such as care giver education level, sanitary environment, women’s bargaining power, and intra-household allocation of food. My most recent paper investigated this relationship for children and adult women in Maharashtra, India. We found that food insecurity increased the risk of mothers and children being underweight, but no association was found with child stunting (indicator of chronic undernutrition) or wasting (indicator of acute undernutrition). From policy perspectives, evidence of direct association of food insecurity with maternal undernutrition (underweight status) signals potential intergenerational effect of food insecurity on human capital development, highlighting the need for nutrition-specific policies. Robust microeconomic evidence exists on the intergenerational consequences of maternal undernutrition on children’s learning outcomes. Interestingly, we did not find any association of food security with maternal overweight status. These results are consistent with the evidence from the wider literature.

The overwhelming importance of accurate identification of who the food insecure were was particularly crucial for a country like India where, despite rapid economic growth, food insecurity and malnutrition are massive economic and public health problems. Obesity is still predominantly a problem of urban and rich in lower-middle/middle income countries such as India, however, in high income countries the relationship is likely to be inversed. In the Maharashtra urban sample, we found 3% of women from the poorest wealth quintile to be overweight as opposed to 20% in the wealthiest quintile. Similarly, 8% of women from severely food insecure households were overweight as opposed to 19% from food secure households. In 2018, our workshop on ‘triple burden of malnutrition’ (organised in collaboration with Indian researchers) collated evidence from diverse settings in India confirming a similar observation – for example, dual burden of malnutrition (overweight mother

and stunted child) is more prevalent in urban and rich households. What next My current focus is on food insecurity in Australia. In addition to examining the nature and extent of household food insecurity, my research aims to measure food access of individuals residing in the households to explore intrahousehold distribution of food and investigate potential intergenerational consequences of food insecurity on human capital development. Extensive work remains on how COVID-19 may impact food security worldwide across age, gender, settings, and socio-economic groups. It seems, with the pandemic, we are suddenly back to where we started in 1974 when the World Food Conference was born against the backdrop of a worldwide food supply shock. Since then, food security literature has undergone two major paradigm shifts: a shift from a pervasive focus on ‘food supply’ at the national level to ‘food access’ at the household/individual level; and a shift from a ‘food first’ to a ‘livelihood’ perspective when it was recognized that people may choose to go hungry to preserve their assets and future livelihoods. Today, amidst the pandemic and lockdown, we stand at a juncture where supply side issues are back to centrestage, while the problem of food access has become more acute with widespread loss of livelihood across the globe. Concurrently, the issue of food utilisation has become more complex than ever given its direct link to sanitary living conditions. Vulnerability to food insecurity is at its peak. We wonder if it is time for a paradigm shift again. Should we rethink food security and add resilience as a fifth dimension? Dr Chandana Maitra is an Academic Fellow at the School of Economics at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on measuring food insecurity and exploring the interlinkages between food security, poverty and other indicators of wellbeing such as health status. Chandana has also worked as external consultant to UNICEF/FAO collaborative project on the scope of applying experiential scales in measuring food security in India.

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Economic policy amid disruption Dr Kerry Schott AO, Chair of the Energy Board and Director for NBN addresses the current economic policy in the electricity sector and calls for the adoption of an emissions trading scheme. Written by Karen Ho

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On Thursday 26 November, Dr Kerry Schott AO delivered the 10th annual Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture. The public lecture commemorates Professor Warren Pat Hogan (1929–2009), a distinguished economist and Professor of Economics at the University of Sydney from 1968 to 1998.The Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture aims to further the dialogue on economic analysis and public policy issues.

The changing nature of society Kerry began the lecture by acknowledging the shifting social climate that was brewing when Warren Hogan joined the University in the late 1960’s. “There were anti-Vietnam war protests going on - frequently violent...The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer was bestseller in bookshops, feminism was gaining traction…and the rugby union people were starting to recognise that playing games against South Africa with apartheid in full swing was becoming politically questionable…it was an area and era where an enormous amount of social change was happening, particularly in Australia.” In delving into Warren’s former policy work, Kerry began reflecting on the challenging nature of enacting policy. “It’s amazing how much the world has moved on, and it’s amazing in economic policy, the number of areas in which nothing much seems to have changed,” Kerry said. “It made me wonder, what is it about economic policy that sometimes the best policies get implemented and implemented quickly, not with huge fuss, and sometimes you find yourself in an area where policy seems quite

intractable.” As the current Chair of the Energy Board and Director of NBN, Kerry has found herself experiencing this tension in the climate change debate. For Kerry, both the problem and solution are clear. In her address, Kerry advocated for decreasing carbon emissions and the implementation of an emissions trading scheme. “If we did have an emissions trading scheme, it would make market solutions much more efficient,” Kerry said. “[With an emissions target], you can steadily start moving in the appropriate direction…but for whatever reason, implementation has become impossible.” The alternative solution In the case where Australia has not been able to implement a carbon emissions scheme, the alternative has been to adopt a command and control method – in this case, incentivising through subsidies for renewables. The policy has worked effectively in changing composition of energy generation in what Kerry called “a phenomenal exercise in de-carbonisation.” The increase in quantities of solar and wind has been largely beneficial in reducing both retail and wholesale prices of energy.

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“We are running an electricity system that is currently about 26% renewables. The operator thinks that we can get that up to 75%. Some states are running at much higher levels than the average 26%.” Kerry was optimistic the trend towards renewables would continue to grow. “My expectation is that in the renewables area, by the time we get to 2030, we’ll be running close to 40% and by the time we get to 2040 with coal plants retiring, we will hit 75% which is about the maximum that we can reach.” Australia is also leading the world in small-scale solar installations such as rooftop solar. Again, it has been a command-and-control method by using subsidies – with some surprising results. “It’s amazing to think that the panels on everybody’s home now are providing 5% of the total electricity needed [in Australia],” Kerry said. “We are anticipating that in the next 5 years they will provide close to 10%.”

“[With an emissions target], you can steadily start moving in the appropriate direction… but for whatever reason, implementation has become impossible.” While the route of providing subsidies has been effective, Kerry highlighted that it does come at a heavy cost to taxpayers who fund the schemes. In addition, without an emissions target, there is also no goal for Australia to collectively aim towards. When asked why the carbon

emission trading scheme is seen as politically unpalatable, Kerry admits implementing policy will always have its challenges. “The only thing you can do is try to persuade people of the right thing to do. There are almost always winners and losers and of course, losers are noisier than winners,” she said. Reasons to be optimistic Kerry believes that there is a role of all of us to play in tackling climate change. She advocated for further funding for research conducted by universities. Already there have been significant technological advancements in solar panels and batteries, resulting in drastically reduced costs. Universities are also developing hydrogen in large quantities – a task that takes an enormous amount of energy to do commercially. Kerry is optimistic about the changes that have occurred in the electricity sector with the sector expected to meet their share of the Paris Agreement. However, there is still more to be done. “What we need in climate change, all together, is to get emissions down in transport and in agriculture.” Kerry hopes that these industries will adopt an emissions trading scheme but if not, follow the alternative path in ways that progress can be made. Action on climate change is a collective effort and our values and attitudes have, and will, continue to change. The lecture and occasion were a reminder that with many movements, it begins by listening to those with the quieter voices, asking us to do the right thing that is needed more than listening to those who speak the loudest.

Image: Professor Garry Barrett presenting the Q&A with Dr Kerry Schott at the 2020 Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture 32


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Q&A with Tony Aspromourgos Emeritus Professor Tony Aspromourgos (PhD 1986) retired from fulltime employment at the University in July 2019.

How has Economics changed over the period you have been at the University? Well of course, there has been great institutional change: from a ‘Department of Economics’, as the more or less dominant element in a ‘Faculty of Economics’; to a numerically less important Department, in a Faculty that was expanding in areas of business studies; to a mere ‘Discipline’, within a ‘School of Economics & Political Science’, in turn, within a ‘Faculty of Economics and Business’, dominated by business disciplines; to, finally, since 1/1/11, its current position as a School within a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The move of Economics to a new humanities and social sciences faculty was contentious at the time (with both staff and alumni); but there is no question that it has been an improvement in the position of Economics, from an intellectual point

of view. Economics is a fundamental social science discipline, with a wide-ranging remit in terms of the issues and problems with which it must engage. It is not a mere ancillary element of business studies, although certainly important for that field. What are your best memories of your time working at the University? I arrived at the University at the beginning of 1982, as a PhD student of the late Peter Groenewegen. So when I retired in July last year, I had been here for more than 37 years. I became a fulltime member of the lecturing staff from the beginning of 1985. I actually first taught university students as a tutor at the University of Melbourne, from 1978 (at the unripe young age of 21), and tutored and lectured a bit while a PhD student; so from that point of view, I have been a university teacher, in one way or another, for 43 years.

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With respect to research, as my CV makes clear, I have been throughout my career, since my first research publications from 1985, almost entirely a solitary researcher, not a collaborator (the loneliness of the long-distance researcher, so to speak). So, when I think of best memories, they don’t involve research, since my intellectual engagements on the research front have been more with colleagues outside the University than within. My best memories are therefore mainly of some of the fine students I had the privilege of teaching, notwithstanding that the best of them were good enough to almost teach themselves. Of course, I will not actually name any of them here, since this would unavoidably be partial and therefore somewhat arbitrary. Anyway, they know who they are.


“My best memories are therefore mainly of some of the fine students I had the privilege of teaching, notwithstanding that the best of them were good enough to almost teach themselves.”

How will you remain connected with the School of Economics as an Emeritus Professor? The Emeritus award is just a recognition for outstanding contributions to learning, scholarship and the University, over a long period. I am continuing to teach one unit per year—currently the senior-level undergraduate ‘History of Economic Thought’ course—which has me in at the University most Fridays (before COVID-19 intervened). I think this is an intellectually important course to continue. I enjoy the teaching as well, and it assists in keeping me connected with the School and interacting with colleagues—not least, via Friday evening drinks at The Eveleigh Hotel! (I comment on ongoing research activity below.) I’m also happy to act as something of a link between the School and the Economics alumni of the University, if that is at all useful. I have taught so many of them since the mid-1980s. In the eighties and nineties in particular, I taught either first- or second-year macroeconomics virtually every year, and in a team-teaching framework. In those days everyone in the previous Faculty did economics; so I literally taught almost everyone who went through the Faculty. But I have also taught many, many of the economics students since 2000, notably in the

senior-level undergraduate ‘Monetary Economics’ and ‘History of Economic Thought’ units, and in fourth-year Honours (the latter, also for most of my years of service prior to 2000) What other plans do you have postretirement? In the last year or so when people have asked me what I’m going to do, or what I’m doing, in retirement my stock answer has been: I’m doing the same things I’ve been doing for years, just not getting paid to do them anymore. This is a slight overstatement: I’m not (much) teaching anymore and I can disentangle myself from (most of ) the suffocating university bureaucracy and managerialism. I have research interests that I am selectively pursuing and will write and publish on—in particular, the place of nature in the human economy, from the perspective of a synthesis of the classical approach to production and distribution and the Keynesian approach to economic activity levels. Plus having a fairly distinguished CV over a long period means that one gets invited to write some things. I’ve recently completed a new entry on the ‘Invisible Hand’, commissioned for the 3rd edition of the Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. The Editors gave me up to 10,000 words; so this is a substantial essay really (although I showed enormous self-restraint and kept it to about

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8,400 words!). The invisible hand is, of course, profoundly emblematic for economics and its history. One benefit of being a solitary researcher, and without need of any expensive equipment etc., is that I can continue with the intellectual work, selfcontained, more or less. How would you like to see the School evolve in the future? I don’t presume to advise on that. I will just say this. In the broadest terms, human society, polity and economy, all interdependent and interacting, evolve historically. Fire burns the same in Ancient Athens and contemporary Sydney; but the structure and organization of the human social economy is very different between those two—and there is no ‘end of history’. To remain relevant as a policy science, economics must evolve with the reality it seeks to understand and shape. The two great issues of our era are climate change and economic inequality (the latter interacting with social and political inequality). Naturally enough, given my intellectual interests, I think that a remembering of the intellectual history of our discipline is an important contributor to taking the discipline forward and therefore is an important element of the economics curriculum.


On breaking barriers and overcoming your greatest challenges Alumna Kerry Chikarovski talks politics, seeking support and the spirit of having a go. Written by Ciara Timlin and Karen Ho

From a young age, Kerry Chikarovski knew she wanted to pursue a career in politics. Kerry can recall telling the nuns at Monte Sant’Angelo Mercy College that politics was the only job for her. She was thirteen years old. Through a series of encounters and decisions that further cemented her career choice, Kerry went on to lead the New South Wales Liberal Party from 1999 until 2002, becoming the first female leader of a major political party in New South Wales history.

It may have seemed that politics was in her blood. Kerry’s father – former Willoughby Mayor, Greg Bartels AM – took up a post with the United Nations in New York in the 1960s. Her family spent five years there which proved to be formative for Kerry as she attended the UN International School. There she had a chance encounter with Senator Robert Kennedy. Kerry recalls, “My father called out ‘Good on ya’ mate’ and in 1968 there were few 36

Australians in New York and Robert Kennedy stopped to talk to us - I was introduced to him by my father. He [Robert] had an absolute presence about him and there wasn’t a noise in a crowd of thousands when he spoke.” On choosing to study economics, Kerry knew it would provide a strong grounding when working in politics, along with her law degree. She embraced University life with a passion and was immersed in student politics


“Don’t be intimidated and have confidence in your ability. Women too often underestimate what they are capable of and they shouldn’t. Be prepared to step up when the opportunity to presents itself – what’s the worst that can happen?” Kerry Chikarovski

and student societies throughout her time at University of Sydney. She became President of the Law Society and served as a Director of the University of Student Union (USU).

advice she would give to women entering these traditionally male workplaces and roles today, she says, “Don’t be intimidated and have confidence in your ability. Women too often underestimate what they In 1978, Kerry graduated with her are capable of and they shouldn’t. Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor Be prepared to step up when the of Law degrees. A proud alumna, opportunity to presents itself – what’s Kerry was the first ‘non-John’s man’ to the worst that can happen? Put your marry at St John’s College – following hand up to do a job and if don’t in her father’s footsteps. do it well then you learn from the experience. If you don’t put your hand This would prove to be the start of many firsts for Kerry. On discussing her up, you’re never going to learn.” proudest professional achievements, On professional challenges and the being the first woman to lead a major lessons learned from these, Kerry political party in New South Wales is says, “My greatest challenge - and an obvious high point. It is however greatest failing – when leader of the the introduction of flexible work opposition, was that I didn’t recognise conditions in the public sector that my own personal need to reach out she reflects on most fondly – crucial and seek support from other people. measures that became the roadmap I had decided I needed to do it on for not only the public sector, but also my own and couldn’t show anybody the corporate sector to follow, which I wasn’t coping – in hindsight that she implemented while Minister for was a disaster. In reality, no-one Industrial Relations and Employment has achieved anything on their own. and Minister for The Status of Women. Everybody who is successful in what Gender imbalance and the unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace are topics Kerry is more than familiar with. When asked what

they wanted to achieve in life has had help to get there. So, my greatest challenge was not recognising my own failing, and my greatest failing was not 37

reaching out and asking for help. What have I learned? Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.” Today Kerry follows her own advice closely and says she has a strong network of support around her to draw upon. After leaving politics she founded government relations firm, Chikarovski & Associates and today works with organisations, not for profits and industry associations, to help them understand the processes of government and how to work successfully with bureaucrats and politicians at all levels of government. Kerry also serves on the Board for numerous organisations including Chair of the NSW Women’s Rugby Union, Adopt Change and Our Watch. Even with the impending economic uncertainly that COVID-19 has thrown the world into, Kerry remains optimistic for the future, and the Australian businesses she now works with. She feels that “the greatest challenge facing businesses today is survival. However, in tough times the entrepreneurial spirit of Australians comes to the fore.”


Worker trust and the watercooler: business in a post-COVID world With the move to work from home, Professor Andrew Wait uncovers some surprising research behind employee trust in delegating tasks and how important water cooler chats are to organisational innovation.

2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic has seemingly affected every aspect of our lives, and the workplace is no exception. While the dramatic move to online work following from COVID-19 restrictions has been seismic and unexpected, there has been a long-run trend of companies allowing – and encouraging – employees to work from home. Moreover, it has been suggested that this movement to work-from-home will be a permanent one. A recent study by the Centre for the Future of Work suggests that a significant proportion of the Australians – particularly office workers – could do their jobs at home. This change in the way we work raises questions about how the shift to an

online workplace should be handled; it also has implications for how we will work in the future. There are many issues about privacy, occupational health and safety and the oftentouted work/life balance. But in addition, it raises questions about the very nature of production as well. The future success of Australian businesses requires that they be both innovative and responsive to the needs of their customers. This requires effective decision making and a collaborative team effort from all staff. Some of my recent research sheds some light on these issues. Effective delegation It seems kind of obvious that if a boss is going to delegate decision-making 38

powers to a subordinate that she really needs to trust them. Without it, she might fear that the employee will take advantage of his delegated authority, making choices that suit himself, not the business. This is true for big decisions about hiring, large purchases or the choice of a new strategic direction; it is also true for smaller decisions, like what to work on first amongst completing tasks, or the approach taken to finish a job. My paper with Kieron Meagher (Australian National University) in the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization turns this whole dynamic on its head. We show that for successful delegation whether an employee trusts their boss could be just as important as the boss’s trust of her subordinate – that is, if a boss


wants to delegate, it is crucial that the employee also trusts them. To see this, let’s assume that a boss would like to delegate a particular decision to an employee because the employee understand what’s going on and they know what to do. Often these decisions are nuanced and multifaceted – it would take too long for the boss to get on top of this issue, so delegation makes sense. Often there are too many decisions to be made, and the boss cannot do everything.

needs to trust the worker, but the worker also needs to be able to trust their boss. Examining workplaces in Australia in our study, we find exactly this – accounting for all the other relevant factors, delegation of decision-making rights to a worker is more likely when the worker trusts management. Moreover, worker trust matters a lot; trust has a larger positive impact on delegation than either a worker’s occupation or education level.

This is important because effective When delegating decision authority decision making is essential for to an employee, the boss will often success in business. Often it is make some undertaking or promise the workers lower down in the of a ‘reward’ – be it a bonus, a future organisation who have a profitable promotion, or even something more new idea, or who understand the mundane (but valuable) like some needs of clients. Afterall, those at the time off after the project is finished. coalface often see the problems – and The understanding could be that if the potential solutions – firsthand. the employee fulfils their obligations, Delegation allows these ideas to be using their delegated authority implemented. Research suggests appropriately, the boss reward them that the ability to delegate explains in the future for it. Given the nature of the success of some firms over their business, however, these promises are otherwise similar rivals. As well as typically not formal legally enforceable accessing knowledge and expertise of contracts – rather, they just having to subordinates in a business, delegation be taken on faith. also allows for quicker decisions. This can provide a firm with an allThis means that without trust, the important jump on its rivals. employee will not believe the boss will actually follow through on what was Effective delegation is even more promised. If this is what they believe, important in a post-COVID world, will have little incentive to fulfil their in which many of us are working obligations, rendering delegation remotely. The old means of monitoring untenable. In this way, employee workers are very much diminished, as trust of their managers is crucial for is the effectiveness of a one-size-fitsdelegation. all top-down approach. This means that bosses need to be able to trust On the other hand, delegation works if their employees, but it also means that the employee trust their boss and can employees need to be able to trust the take them at their word; the worker promises and undertakings that their will have an incentive to not take managers make. Trust flowing both advantage of their delegated decision up and down in an organisation will authority as they expect that their provide the most fertile environment boss will do the same. In this way, trust for effective decision making, and needs to be a two-way street; the boss productive firms. This means that a 39

good manager will spend at least as much time considering whether they themselves elicit trust as they spend thinking about the trustworthiness of others. Collaboration in teams Good and services, particularly in knowledge-based industries, are often produced in teams. Drawing insights from biologists, in a related study published in Games and Economic Behavior coauthored with Jonathan Newton (Kyoto University) and Simon Angus (Monash University), I analyse how teams function best. People instinctively want to collaborate, and it is informal interactions with one another that allows this to happen. When working in a team, it is important that everyone (or at least most people in the group) are on the same page. The team needs to work together. The need to coordinate their actions and collaborate. But how can this be done? Informal interactions allow workers an opportunity to discuss their work and what they plan to do. Workers chatting in the over coffee, around the watercooler or in the lunchroom can talk about many things, but invariably their conversation will come back to work. In these unplanned chats, workers can share their ideas and intentions. Rather than just idle time, these social interactions can have positive benefits for firms. These informal discussions facilitate collaboration amongst team members, often in a way that a directive from higher management could not achieve. Collaboration is important because it allows workers to start working on new projects and to be innovative. This in turn allows firms to be more productive and profitable. For many firms, innovation is the crucial to their


success. These informal interactions are particularly for innovative firms. Casual encounters and discussions with colleagues are when ideas can be bounced around; it is when sparks can fly. Afterall, many people still meet their partners at work. In the work-from-home world, how can firms facilitate these informal connections? The research shows that small teams are more conducive to informal sharing of intentions and collaboration. There is a limit to how many people can have a conversation in the team room. Likewise, there will be a limit to how many workers will actively be engaged in any online forum. This accords with the famed two-pizza team rule at Amazon; a team should be no larger than one that can be fed by two pizzas on its own. To be most effective, communication should involve the whole team. Managers also need to create fora in which informal interactions can flourish. Regular coffee catchup times is one option. Other social groups – book and movie clubs – is another way of facilitating informal links between team members. To foster unfettered free flowing discussion, senior managers should opt not to be part of these social meets. Building social connections can have many positive outcomes – less social isolation and depression for one – but it can have a direct impact on the collaboration in a team. The benefits of these informal meetings were realized by Alfred P. Sloan, the famous president, chairman and CEO at General Motors, who established the General Technical Committee that had no formal agenda, but provided an opportunity for engineers from different parts of the company to come under amicable circumstances for the exchange of information and the ironing out of differences’.

Familiarity builds links and trust between team members. This means that established teams are likely to be able to continue to communicate effective with one another following the sudden shift online. This is far less likely to be the case for new teams, as the online world is one in which it is hard to build strong rapport. If new team members are required, management should try to add just an additional one or two new members to existing teams so that the existing work culture can be transferred to the newcomer. This is also not the time for a restructure and the formation

of new workgroups as this will likely reduce informal communication networks, harming productivity. As travel restrictions and social distancing requirements are lifted, what does this mean for the workplace of the future? Many businesses will be tempted to keep working – at least partially – online. Some of the cost savings are obvious; business can reduce the size of their offices, getting employees to hot desk it if they do come in. But such moves should be made with caution. Businesses need to be mindful of how people actually work together. Humans are social animals and they crave interaction. We are evolutionarily programmed to collaborate. Online work creates barriers to informal interactions that impedes casual serendipitous 40

encounters. Particularly for firms for which innovation is important, the traditional workplace with its lunchroom and coffee breaks has many advantages, even in these days of online hangouts and Zoom meetings.


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Becoming Valerie Khoo: So you want to be a...? Alumnus Valerie Khoo, CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre shares how she continues to follow her curiosity and why her economics degree continues to be invaluable in her creative career. Written by Karen Ho

It is hard not to be impressed by the many talents of Economics alumna, Valerie Khoo. While she is most notably known as the founder and CEO of the Australian Writers Centre, Valerie is also a journalist, podcaster, author, artist and printmaker, curator, business owner and former accountant. As someone who has pivoted her career in different directions, Valerie understands the importance of adaptability and embracing change. “If you’re not

adaptable, you will be left behind. The world is changing so quickly – sometimes, as a result of the most unexpected events. So whether you run a business, or are an employee, your ability to pivot and embrace new ideas will be what keeps you ahead of the curve.” With such creative pursuits, it may be surprising to know Valerie is a Bachelor of Economics graduate. Valerie says, “I was always fascinated 42

by the world of business and economics at school so it was a natural choice for me to do this degree. I loved every minute of my time at university - the lecturers, the interning opportunities and, of course, the social life. I was heavily involved in businessrelated clubs and societies, so I had a very rich and busy experience while I was studying. At the time, there was also a lot of interaction with industry so it was great to be able to make contacts with potential employers


while I was still at university.” After graduating, Valerie worked at PwC as an accountant but soon followed her passion a few years later by becoming a freelance writer. She became the features director for CLEO Magazine and deputy editor at CLEO Singapore. Valerie went on to write the popular Enterprise column for Fairfax media. While Valerie might work more with words these days, her ability to work with numbers is just as important. “My background in economics and accounting has been invaluable in every role I’ve held. It’s particularly useful in running a business and I’m always grateful that I have such a firm foundation in cashflow, balance sheets, economics and so on. Even now, as a practising artist, it’s great to be able to rely on these skills to run the business side of art.” It is no coincidence that Valerie understands that regardless of which creative pursuit she undertakes, the key is recognising that those skills also have a market value. “With each pivot, I also want to maintain a lifestyle I enjoy so it’s important to me that I monetise my passion – so that I can get paid to do what I love.” When asked about the future of the arts sector, Valerie believes that with the decline in funding and grants, organisations will be challenged to adopt new models and mindsets. “The arts organisations that will survive and thrive will be the ones who are able to adopt a more entrepreneurial and selfsustaining approach to the way they work.” As the founder of a business in the media and communications sector, Valerie knows about finding new ways of doing business amidst a fast-paced and evolving industry. For over 15 years, the Australian Writers’ Centre has grown to become the leading centre for writing courses – an achievement that Valerie is rightly very proud of. “We’re getting

Image: Valerie Khoo stands alongside one of her artworks

bigger each year, helping people and organisations with the training they need. It’s been very rewarding to build a dedicated team who are passionate about creating wonderful learning experiences for all our participants.” Along with co-host, Allison Tait, Valerie discusses the transition to writing in her weekly podcast, ‘So you want to be a writer’. Her advice to those wanting to become a writer? “First, believe that it is possible. For some people, a career in writing may be a world away from what they are currently doing. But many people, from all walks of life, have transitioned successfully into this new career after completing short courses at the Australian Writers’ Centre. Second, it doesn’t have to be a dramatic plunge where you quit one career cold turkey and start a new one the next day. I recommend a staged approach. I’ve mentored many people through this; they start their writing projects on the side until they’ve built up enough writing work to let go of their main job. I have mentored IT managers, architects, lawyers and many others to go through this process.” In navigating her own career transitions, Valerie is also mindful 43

of her own challenges and what it takes for her to overcome them. “I’ve pivoted my career a number of times because I’m passionate about following my curiosity and doing work that I’m interested in. However, each transition results in a series of professional and personal challenges. Professionally, you have to learn new skills. That’s certainly achievable. Personally, it’s about overcoming self-doubt and the fear that you might not succeed on your new path. Over the years, I’ve realised that negative self-talk serves no useful purpose at all. It only paralyses you.” Valerie is also quick to point out the critical role that mentors and coaches have made in her career. “I discovered the benefits of this very late in life and, if I could do one thing differently in my career, it would be to engage the help of mentors and coaches much earlier. When you can tap into the advice and experience of these people, you can fast-track your progress and reach your goals much quicker.” While the career turns and leaps of faith can be daunting, one thing that Valerie knows for sure is there is power in being surrounded by those who will cheer you on.


First in Family Mentoring Program continues to thrive Connecting ambitious students with experienced industry mentors

Written by Marsha Elimelakh and Karen Ho

A long table runs through the outdoor courtyard at the Duck Inn in Chippendale as the sun slowly descends on a late November evening. As everyone arrives, they greet each other with a combined sense of nervousness and familiarity. The night is the graduation event for the 2020 First in Family Mentoring Program and it is the first time some attendees are meeting in person. In light of COVID-19, the First in Family Mentoring Program continued to be a tremendously beneficial experience for both mentors and mentees in 2020. The School of Economics launched the first run of the First in Family Mentoring Program in 2018, partnering Economics alumni with students who were first in their family to attend university. Two years later, the mentoring program has continued to thrive with another 16 students successfully completing the program.

The overall aim of the First in Family Mentoring Program is to offer students in the penultimate or final year of their degree the opportunity to access a mentor for support and guidance. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience amongst the alumni of the School of Economics. By connecting our students with mentors throughout their studies, the School of Economics provides them with a unique opportunity to be inspired and to learn from the experiences and knowledge of our graduates. As mentee, Xavier Smaill said, “The time spent talking with Rob [Montgomery] has significantly helped me develop an understanding of post-university life. With my main goal being to find where I want to end up, the program significantly helped myself in narrowing that down.” First in family students quite often experience isolation while at university, especially when finding direction in 44


their careers and understanding how the professional world works. Students in the program are seeking advice on entering the workforce, as well as additional guidance on topics such as career exploration, technical and interpersonal skill development, CVs and written applications, and interview skills. “As a first in family student, I had no idea what it’s like to work in the world of business,” one mentee said. “The most valuable aspect was to be given an insight into the day-to-day work of being an economist in a private firm.” The 2020 program launched virtually on 15 September with mentees and mentors meeting for the first time online. Former 2019 mentee, Amanuel Woldermariam was invited to speak about his experience with mentor Tim Perich, Sales Trader at State Street Global Markets. The pair have built a successful relationship, continuing to keep in contact even after the program officially concluded. Amanuel emphasised the importance of making the most of the opportunity and to ask insightful questions of the mentors. He credited Tim’s expertise and advice towards helping him secure an internship and subsequent employment opportunities.

“As a first in family student, I had no idea what it’s like to work in the world of business. The most valuable aspect was to be given an insight into the day-to-day work of being an economist in a private firm.”

Eliza Owen, Head of Australian Research at CoreLogic has been a mentor since the inception of the program in 2018. She also spoke at the launch, sharing the positive learning experiences gained from her mentees as her reason for returning each year. For Eliza, mentoring is also an easy way to give back to the School and University community that had been so formative during her time as a student. First time mentor, Natalie Baker, Senior Advisor at Productivity Commission shared similar sentiments. “It was my pleasure to be a part of the program – the University of Sydney provided me with many fantastic opportunities throughout my undergraduate degree, and it is great to see that the university continues to provide thoughtful programs and guidance beyond the lecture rooms!” All the mentors are University of Sydney alumni with an economics background, demonstrating the diversity of where an economics degree can take you. Throughout the years, our mentors have worked in a wide range of organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sector including J.P Morgan, APRA, NSW Aboriginal Land Council, American Express, NCIE and Commonwealth Bank. “The most valuable aspect of the program was being able to talk to someone in the field, who quite recently had to make the same transition from university to work,” another mentee said. “This mentorship has been extremely valuable as I believe it has given me a contact who is willing to keep in contact and answer any questions I might have, even after the program was finished.” After three years, First in Family continues to evolve as a successful program for the School of Economics. As

Image: 2019 alumni mentors and mentees at the graduation event 45


Images: 2020 First in Family Mentoring graduation celebrations (left), 2019 mentor Taleen Shamlian with mentee, Caelan Bistram

“It was a great experience which exceeded my expectations primarily due to an outstanding mentee. I am richer as a person following my interaction with Ryan.” Nadia Schiavon, Managing Director & Head of Securities (ANZ) for J.P Morgan and Chase

a returning mentor remarked, “I think the program has improved from the first year and will go from strength to strength.” The partnerships have also translated to positive results with first in family students gaining internships and cadetships in their desired fields. Mentee Shelby Hunt earned a cadetship towards the end of the program. She attributed her mentor, Caroline Boateng (Senior Strategy Manager, Commonwealth Bank) as a key driver to helping her succeed. When 2019 mentee, Sabrina Chen was asked if she would recommend the program to others, she also acknowledged her mentor, Indu Balachandrian (Chief Operating Officer at The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence) in her success. “Yes. Absolutely yes, my mentor was so heartwarming and supportive, and I have received an offer from KPMG!” In a tough year, it has been inspiring to see the connections form between students and our experienced alumni who continue to contribute to the development of aspiring leaders. For new mentor, Nadia Schiavon, Managing Director and Head of Securities Services (ANZ) for JP Morgan and Chase, the leap to commit as a mentor was well worth the time. “It was a great experience which exceeded my expectations primarily due to an outstanding mentee. I am richer as a person following my interaction with Ryan.” As one student noted, sometimes it only takes one person to make a difference. “The program exceeded my expectations. I did not expect to be paired with such a highly experienced mentor who so passionately did their best to help me navigate my way towards a career in economics.” 46


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[4] Captions 1. Harrison Ngyuen with mentor, Kara Hooper at launch (2019) 2. Professor Garry Barrett with mentee, Ryan Morgan at graduation (2020) 3. Tim Perich with mentee, Amanuel Woldermariam (2019) 4. Rhys Creer with returning mentor, Eliza Owen at graduation (2020) 5. Shelby Hunt with mentor, Caroline Boateng at graduation celebrations (2020)

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Fighting poverty through private sector development Russell Toth reflects on his research agenda in private sector development, as he prepares to lead an emerging research project on financial systems reform funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

When I was 19 years old, I moved from western Canada to Hungary. My father had escaped Hungary in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution, when many young Hungarians left for countries like Canada, the US, and Australia. Hungary had come under Soviet communist rule after WWII, and growing up I heard many stories about the hardships communism had wrought. Moving to Hungary in the late 1990s massively expanded my perspective. While I had been interested in economic and business news growing up, it was altogether different to experience the consequences of different economic policies and systems first hand. During my last year in Hungary I did a year of study in accounting and economics through the London School of Economics and Political Science’s distance learning program, and the next year I transitioned to college in the US. As I reflected on my time living in a country in economic transition, I started reading books by economists writing on economic development, such as Muhammad Yunus (who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work founding the microfinance movement in 2006), William Easterly, and Hernando de Soto. I became particularly interested in the critical role private sector enterprise could play in driving broad-based economic prosperity. While I didn’t even know what a PhD was until late in my undergraduate

studies, I knew I wanted to focus my career on enabling the private sector to generate broad-based economic opportunity and prosperity. Fast forward to today, I’m a development economist at the School of Economics at the University of Sydney. Development economics focuses on economic development in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This research field has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, from approaches based more on applying broad ideas about market liberalization, to a much more detailed focus on how specific economic policies and institutions can actually work best in practice. This typically involves data-driven research, in some cases through experimental tests of promising approaches. This naturally leads to intensive collaborations between development economists and practitioners, in governments, international organizations, NGOs, and more commonly in recent years, the private sector. Three of the pioneering leaders of this approach to development economics, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer, were recognized with the Nobel Prize in economics in 2019. My work focuses on enabling the private sector, particularly in southeast Asia and the Pacific. While economists are known to extoll the virtues of free markets, 48


Image: Yangon traffic with Shwedagon Pagoda in the distance (photo courtesy of Russell Toth)

there are many situations when free markets can generate outcomes far from what is socially optimal. This can provide a justification for well-designed government intervention. One area of focus in LMICs is on getting financial institutions like banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) to lend more to small businesses. This can be a tricky proposition for financial institutions, so outreach to this market segment is particularly low. It can take time for banks’ lending officers to learn to do effective loan assessment in these markets, which often generate lower profit margins than lending to large businesses and the wealthy. Meanwhile MFIs’ staff are used to providing very small loans to the poor according to very rigid lending procedures, which are not suited to growth-oriented small and medium enterprises.

To help stimulate the lending market for small businesses, many governments have implemented “credit guarantee” programs. This often involves a setup where banks lend directly to businesses, but the government or a government-funded entity covers a percentage of defaults to the targeted market segment, to offset the bank’s lending risk. For example: for all loans under 10,000 AUD, the government covers 50% of the value of loan defaults, so if loans default at a 4% rate, the government is on the hook for $400. This provides a very high return on investment for the government if these are genuinely new loans. In spite of their global popularity, there is surprisingly little credible research on the effectiveness of such schemes. I’ve been involved in two analyses of one of the world’s largest such schemes, Indonesia’s “People’s Business Credit,” which processed about 5 billion AUD in loans in 2014.

“This research field [development economics] has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, from approaches based more on applying broad ideas about market liberalization, to a much more detailed focus on how specific economic policies and institutions can actually work best in practice.”

In two separate papers with research students at the University of Sydney, we’ve studied the impacts of the scheme on banks and businesses, respectively. We’ve shown that the program generates ‘additionality’ – lending that wouldn’t have happened otherwise – and in doing so meets goals like increasing employment and reducing poverty. Furthermore, addressing the ability of such schemes to sustainably stimulate lending market activity, we exploit a shutdown of the program to show that it is likely to lead to a permanent increase in banks’ appetite to 49


lend to small businesses, even once the guarantee incentive is removed. This could be for reasons such as that the program provides opportunities for small business lending officers to improve their capacity to assess borrowers, which makes such lending easier even without an active guarantee. This research contributes to a relatively thin body of knowledge about a set of programs that receive billions of dollars in government investment around the world each year. These days I’m particularly excited to work directly with private sector organizations, helping generate evidence that can help bolster the business case for products that benefit lower-income households. A key area of interest is in financial inclusion, where innovators are leveraging the massive expansion in mobile phone access in LMICs. Mobile money systems provide basic mobile wallet and funds transfer services, and can also be a conduit for financial services like loans and insurance. In Myanmar I’ve worked with the leading mobile money company (which manages a network of 65,000 frontline cash-in/ cash-out agents - 70% of whom are women) and a leading commercial bank, to evaluate a digital loan product the bank provides to mobile money agents. The loan is meant to provide liquidity so agents can more easily process mobile money transactions, however there is no formal restriction on how they use the loan. Loan approval is based exclusively on a formula calculated from agents’ prior mobile money processing volumes, completely avoiding the traditional, subjective loan approval process, which can be discriminatory. By exploiting arbitrary changes in the loan qualification formula, we can estimate the causal effect of the loans. We have shown that the loans generate an average immediate increase of 13% in agents’ monthly mobile money volumes, which tapers to zero within 3 months. This result is of particular interest to the mobile money company, which provides the proprietary database necessary for credit

scoring. This is an insight that couldn’t be generated without carefully applying microeconometric data analysis tools. In ongoing analysis we’re also leveraging a phone survey we conducted with 5,200 agents in late 2020, to study impacts of the loans on a much broader range of business and household outcomes, as most agents run a larger small business – hair salon, mobile phone shop, grocery store, pharmacy, etc.

“A key area of interest is in financial inclusion, where innovators are leveraging the massive expansion in mobile phone access in LMICs.” This interest in digital finance sparked an opportunity to help lead a new global research initiative on interoperable digital payments. The project, recently funded by a 3-year, $3.5 million USD grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will involve researching emerging interoperable digital payments systems across a number of LMICs. Interoperability connects the back-end of financial services providers, making it possible for customers of any providers linked to the system, to send and receive payments to each other, lowering transactions costs particularly for the poor. In many LMICs with low Image credit: Wave Money bank account takeup, there isn’t a formal, secure system for clients of one MFI or mobile money company to make transfers in this way. Interoperability may also enable small, innovative providers to more easily enter the market without having to build up a customer network beforehand. The Foundation is particularly interested in interoperable payments systems that adhere to a set of principles that ensure they will be of benefit for the poor (the “Level One Principles”). Our project will quantify the impacts of such systems, and engage deeply with the policy reform process around these systems, to provide evidence-based insights on optimal system design. Stay tuned for the results!

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Awards Vice Chancellors Awards 2020 The Vice Chancellors Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions of our academic and professional staff to teaching, research and service, leadership, mentorship, and industry and community engagement. Congratulations to Associate Professor Mark Melatos on receiving a Vice Chancellors Award for Outstanding Teaching and Educational Designer, Dr Jennifer Dowling for receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Educational Excellence.

FASS Teaching Excellence Awards 2020 The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Awards recognise the teaching excellence of staff at all career levels. Recipients have shown a critical reflection of their approach to teaching and learning and demonstrate an improvement to enhancing student learning. Congratulations to Associate Professor Tim Fisher and Dr Jordi Vidal-Roberts for both receiving Teaching Excellence Awards in 2020.

Journal of Economics & Management - Best Paper Prize for 2019 Congratulations to Dr Rebecca Taylor who won the ‘Best paper published in the Journal of Environmental Economics & Management in 2019’ prize for her article, ‘Bag leakage: The effect of disposable carryout bag regulations on unregulated bags’.

Outstanding American Journal of Agricultural Economics Article Award Congratulations to Dr Emilia Tjernstrom for receiving the ‘Outstanding American Journal of Agricultural Economics Article Award’ along with co-authors, Jeffrey D. Michler (University of Arizona), Simone Verkaart (Wageningen University) and Kai Mausch (World Agroforestry) for their paper, ‘Money Matters: The Role of Yields and Profits in Agricultural Technology Adoption’.

International Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellowships 2019 The HEA fellowships demonstrate the commitment of these staff to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education. Congratulations to Dr Stephen Cheung and Dr Chandana Maitra for both receiving Fellowships.

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Recent selected grant success Australian Research Council Neuroeconomic foundations of probability and value perception ARC Discovery Grant 2019 Years: 2019-2023 Investigators: Professor Agnieszka Tymula (University of Sydney) and Professor Paul Glimcher (New York University) This project aims to investigate well-known behavioural “biases” in probability and value perception through the lens of neurobiology. This project will generate new knowledge on human behaviour by combining theory and methodology from economics and neuroscience. Through its interdisciplinary approach, this project will provide a novel and braincompatible understanding of how people make decisions. This should deliver significant and tangible benefits by providing foundations for the “second wave” in behavioural economics, which builds upon the work of Kahneman and Tversky not just behaviourally, but also neurobiologically. Fiscal Policy in an Open Economy ARC Discovery Grant 2019 Years: 2019-2023 Investigators: Professor Mariano Kulish (University of Sydney), Professor James Morley (University of Sydney) and Associate Professor Francesco Zanetti (University of Oxford) This project aims to improve our understanding of the impact of commodity price changes. Over the past two decades, Australia has experienced unprecedented fluctuations in commodity prices. The fiscal position and potential of the economy depends on the extent to which commodity price changes are temporary or permanent. The project will uncover empirical regularities between commodity prices, unemployment across sectors and measures of fiscal policy. The project will build structural models of unemployment which will be estimated and used to assess implications for unemployment and budget deficits of commodity price shocks and to study the optimal design of fiscal policy. The project will benefit the conduct of economic policy in Australia. Intergenerational Disadvantage: Causes, Pathways, and Consequences ARC Linkage Project 2019 Years: 2020-2023 Investigators: Professor Deborah Cobb-Clark (University of Sydney), Dr Hayley Fisher (University of Sydney), Dr Nicolas Salamanca (University of Melbourne), Dr Sarah Dahmann (University of Sydney), Dr Susan Kluth (Department of Social Services), Dr Kai Liu (University of Cambridge) and Dr Anne Gielen (Erasmus University Rotterdam) This project aims to prevent poor Australian children from becoming poor adults by developing scientific evidence and creative policy approaches to overcome entrenched disadvantage. The Project will generate new knowledge on how social assistance dependence is linked across generations using new Australian data. Expected outcomes are the identification of i) the causal link between parents’ and children’s social assistance dependence; ii) the pathways through which youths overcome disadvantage; and iii) the role of family structure in transmitting disadvantage. Transforming the evidence base, the findings will have significant benefits in redesigning the Australian social safety net, promoting social and economic mobility.

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NHMRC Targeted Call for Research: into Indigenous Social and Emotional Wellbeing Against the odds: Understanding the factors influencing wellbeing among Indigenous youth in the Northern Territory Years: 2018-2023 Investigators: Professor Stefanie Schurer (University of Sydney), Dr Peter Shaw (University of Sydney), Miss Tanja Hirvonen, Mrs Olga Havnen, Professor Pat Dudgeon (University of Western Australia), Professor Lisa Cameron (University of Melbourne) and Professor Stephen Guthridge (Menzies School of Health Research) This mixed-methods project studies the factors that influence social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) of Indigenous youth in the Northern Territory. It uses administrative data and econometric techniques to identify communities where youth have higher or lower SEWB than expected. These locations are then visited to ask Indigenous youth about their perspective on SEWB (giving them a voice). Research-to-practice translation will focus on cultural safety, respect and benefits for Indigenous youth.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Analysis of linked longitudinal administrative data on child protection involvement for NSW families with domestic and family violence drug and alcohol use and mental health issues ANROWS Core Grant Research Program 2020-2022 Years: 2021-2022 Investigators: Associate Professor Amy Conley Wright (University of Sydney), Professor Stefanie Schurer (University of Sydney), Dr Betty Luu (University of Sydney), Dr Sue Heward-Belle (University of Sydney), Dr Susan Collings (University of Sydney), Dr Emma Barrett (University of Sydney) in partnership with Human Services Data Set Governance Advisory Committee and FACS Insights, Analysis and Research (FACSIAR). Domestic and family violence (DFV), alcohol and other drug use (AOD) and serious mental health issues (MHI) are considered key parental behavioural risk factors to children’s safety. What is less well understood is to what degree they intersect and interact with each other (Humphreys et al., 2018). This project builds upon previous ANROWSfunded research. The Safe & Together Addressing ComplexitY for Children (STACY for Children) project considered how DFV, AOD and MHI related to children’s pathways through child protection in Queensland, but was limited by short time periods and absence of linked data. No population-level analysis currently exists on the interdependence of DFV, AOD, and MHI with child protection involvement for Australia’s most populous state (NSW). Their Futures Matter Human Services Dataset (HSDS) contains linked administrative data on children born or living in NSW since 1990 (n = all) and family members, with 7 million records representing over 60 datasets from 11 government agencies, over a 27-year period. The aim of this research is to produce population statistics to strengthen the evidence base for children and young people impacted by intersecting risk factors of DFV, AOD and MHI. The analysis will focus on rural or geographically remote areas, where service planning is most challenging.

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Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Inclusive Agricultural Value Chain Financing Years: 2018-2022 Investigators: Dr. Alan de Brauw (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)), Dr Russell Toth (University of Sydney), Kate Ambler (International Food Policy Research Institute), Dr Sahat Pasaribu (Indonesian Center for Agriculture Socioeconomic and Policy Studies (ICASEPS)), Kwin Pwint Oo (Myanmar Economic Association), Truong Thi Thu Trang (Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD)) The project aims to increase knowledge about how to design and implement innovative and inclusive agricultural value chain financing models in South East Asia.

Spencer Foundation The Long-term Effects of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs on Human Capital: What has been Accomplished Over the Last Two Decades? Small Grant Request Years: 2020-2021 Investigators: Dr Valentina Duque (University of Sydney) Cash transfers have become an increasingly popular anti-poverty tool in the developing world and have spread throughout more than 80 low- and middle-income countries. Yet there exists limited evidence on their long-term human capital impacts and little is known on whether and how CCTs are achieving their ultimate goal of breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty. The goal of this project is to study the educational and economic outcomes of the program’s earliest beneficiaries, who were either in childhood or in primary school when the program began, and who are now entering the labor market. Using the universe of participants in Colombia’s CCT program, Familias en Accion, linked to a myriad of admin records (the universe of students in public schools, test scores data, tertiary education and labor data, and future welfare participation), the empirical strategy estimates a regression discontinuity design (RDD) that exploits the eligibility rule for Familias en Accion given by the SISBEN poverty index score. We will also explore the impacts of timing of exposure to CCTs and type of investments. Our findings will highlight the importance of considering the long-run and multigenerational benefits of cash transfer programs when evaluating their costs and benefits.

Centre for Retirement Research at Boston College - Steven H. Sandell Grant The Influence of Early-life Economic Shocks on Long-term Outcomes: Evidence from the U.S. Great Depression Year: 2018 Investigators: Dr Valentina Duque (University of Sydney) and Dr Lauren Schmitz (University of Wisconsin-Madison) How does health and economic productivity around retirement age and up to old age vary with early-life economic conditions? While previous research has shown that prenatal events can have consequences on outcomes in adulthood, there is a dearth of empirical evidence examining whether initial environments can influence human capital at later stages of the lifecycle. Using geographic variation in economic conditions from the most severe and prolonged economic downturn in American history—the Great Depression—combined with restricted micro-data from the Health and Retirement Study, this proposal will study the effects of economic downturns at birth on labor market outcomes, cardiovascular health, and physical mobility at older ages. From a policy perspective, our results are informative for the design of retirement and healthcare systems and for assessing the cost of business cycles. 56


DVCR: University of Sydney Research Accelerator Prize (SOAR) Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) Program Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) program acknowledges and supports outstanding up-and-coming early and mid-career researchers through a two-year scheme. SOAR Fellows will receive funding for their research, a personalised program of research development support and structured mentoring. SOAR helps researchers to build their leadership skills, establish connections with partner organisations and nurture our researchers in formulating their innovation and development plans. Seasonal poverty, rural labor market and migration, and formation of non-cognitive skills in children Years: 2020-2021 Chief investigator: Associate Professor Shyamal Chowdhury Associate Professor Chowdhury’s SOAR prize focuses on two of current research projects: i) the functioning of rural labour markets in developing countries, and ii) the formation of non-cognitive skills in children. The twin objectives of the two research projects are: first, to produce cutting edge research outputs publishable in high-ranked generalinterest journals in economics, and second, to find evidence-based interventions that address both immediate poverty and hunger, as well as the long-term disadvantages that poor parents and their children face. Project 1: Seasonal poverty, rural labour markets and migration Project 2: Towards a better understanding of the non-cognitive skills in children: malleability, sensitive periods, typical trajectories, and transmission within the family Health, Retirement and Ageing Years: 2020-2021 Chief Investigator: Dr Kadir Atalay Dr Atalay’s current research focuses on the individual- and system-level economic concerns of ageing, such as personal behaviour toward pensions, retirement and household savings, and the macroeconomics of population ageing. This research agenda is of crucial policy relevance because over the next 30 years, a quarter of Australia’s population is expected to be older than 65. The effects of this profound societal change will be borne by older people, their families and communities, and the agencies that support them. Dr Atalay’s research agenda aims to shed light on the economic consequences of this change. Dr Atalay has examined the effect of social security reforms on labour-supply decisions of individuals and couples, effects on consumption plans, and the wellbeing of individuals. Since 2015, this line of research has been funded by an ARC Discovery Project grant. The SOAR fellowship allows Dr Atalay to expand on this research agenda by examining the health consequences of these reforms, using administrative (clinical) data on drug prescriptions, hospitalization and mortality. The key innovation of this project is to use clinical data by focusing on long-term health conditions. Previous studies in the literature focuses on the immediate impacts of retirement and selfreported health conditions, hence they do not provide any assessment of the link between retirement and diseases that appear later in life (such as Dementia, Alzheimer). This will be the first study in the literature that examines these issues using administrative data. The funding from SOAR allows Dr Atalay to begin working on administrative data, ‘45 and Up Study’- the largest ongoing ageing data in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Office of Global Engagement Partnership Collaboration Awards - University of Sydney The impacts of high-skill return migrants on firms in China Years: 2019-2020 Investigators: Dr Russell Toth (University of Sydney) and Associate Professor Yifan Zhang (CUHK) One of the core questions in economics is to explain persistent differences in cross-country income. The relatively mobile factors of labour and capital explain less than half of the gap, leaving open the door to less tangible factors like managerial knowledge, technical expertise, and social networks. We seek to pull together a number of data sources on the career histories of elite Chinese workers who obtained school and/or work experience overseas in advanced countries such as the United States, Germany, or Australia, and then returned as so-called “sea turtles” (haigui). We leverage province-by-year variation in the implementation of policies to incentivize sea turtle return, combined with sub-sectoral variation in economic trends in the manufacturing and mining sectors, to study impacts on sub-sectoral productivity. Data on worker flows allows us to further obtain intensive-margin estimates of impacts, and uncover underlying mechanisms. Evaluation of environmental effectiveness and economic efficiency of incentive based instruments for pollution control in China and Australia Years: 2019-2020 Investigators: Associate Professor Tiho Ancev (University of Sydney), Dr Alastair Fraser (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Yuan Xu (CUHK) and Associate Professor Yan Xu (CUHK) Australia has used incentive based-mechanisms, such as environmental taxation and tradable permit schemes for nearly two decades. Examples are the NSW Load Based Licensing and the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme. China has run seven pilot tradable permit programs for reducing C02 emissions since 2013 and started implementing environmental taxation for other air and water pollutants in 2018. In December, 2017 China announced a national CO2 emission trading market, initially targeting the electricity generation sector. This study will preliminarily assess the Chinese environmental taxation mechanism based on the experiences from Australia. A comparative evaluation will be conducted on the economic efficiency and effectiveness of tradable permit schemes in China and Australia. The findings will identify areas where the design of these incentive-based instruments could be improved, and will propose ways to implement those improvements in both countries.

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Research grant feature Valentina Duque writes about her research on inequality and the effectiveness of conditional cash-transfers.

I am a health and development economist. I received my PhD from Columbia University in 2015 and then worked as a Postdoctoral scholar at the University of Michigan. I arrived at the School of Economics at the University of Sydney in 2018. My work is motivated by the idea that inequality starts early in life and that children in low-income households are more likely to grow up to be low-income themselves. In my research I study two related topics: i ) the pathways through which disadvantaged families’ greater exposure to adverse conditions (poverty, violence, unemployment) translate into poorer health, education, and income for their children (and their future children), and ii), how policies that target children since their young ages help reduce long-term disadvantage. One of the questions that I am particularly interested in, is understanding the role that income plays in changing this intergenerational correlation. Coming from a developing country myself where wealth and income

inequality is one of the highest in the world, in Colombia the role of government (conditional) cash transfers -one of its main safety net programs -, is widely regarded to be a major support for the ultra-poor. Despite this, there is actually very little research exploring whether the program has been successful at breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are a popular policy aimed at reducing current and future poverty. By giving poor parents money conditional on that their children receive medical check-ups, good nutrition, and attend school, research has shown that these programs have been successful at improving short-term educational outcomes. As of today, more than 60 low- and middle-income countries operate a CCT program, hence, analysing the effects of these massive investments is imperative. To explore the effects of CCTs on young adults’ outcomes two decades after the program started, my colleagues and I have leveraged Colombia’s CCT program. We combine multiple sources of data

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on both program participants and a potential control group, which enables us to reconstruct the entire life-course trajectories of millions of children and their families. We measure the effects of CCTs using the fact that, some families were eligible for the program and some were not, based on their income, which in turn allows us to compare the outcomes of children in families just below and just above the income cut-off. Economists love these Regression Discontinuity comparisons because they mimic an actual experiment! Our preliminary findings suggest that CCTs are associated with significant increases in high school completion, higher achievement test scores by age 18, and with a higher probability of pursuing tertiary education. What is more exciting is that the earlier that a child receives the benefit, the larger the effect! Our next step is to estimate models on labour market, fertility, and migration. At the moment, we are very excited that our project has received generous funding from the Spencer Foundation!


Publications 2020 Amiti, M., Dai, M., Feenstra, R., Romalis, J. (2020). How did China’s WTO entry affect U.S. prices?, Journal of International Economics, V 126, 2020, 103339 Aspromourgos, A. (2020). Invisible Hand. In Steven N. Durlauf, Lawrence E. Blume (Eds.), The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. London: Palgrave. Aspromourgos, T. (2020). Rationalising the supply-and-demand cross, 18381890. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 27(2), 194-208. Atalay, K., Barrett, G., Edwards, R., Yu, C. (2020). House Price Shocks, Credit Constraints and Household Indebtedness. Oxford Economic Papers, 72(3), 780-803. Atalay, K., Barrett, G., Staneva, A. (2020). The effect of retirement on home production: evidence from Australia. Review of Economics of the Household, 18, 117-139. Atalay, K., Garbarino, E., Slonim, R. (2020). Prize-linked savings accounts: Combining virtue and vice to make saving more enticing. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 72(2), 180-190. Atalay, K., Staneva, A. (2020). The Effect of Bereavement on Cognitive Functioning among Elderly People: Evidence from Australia. Economics and Human Biology, 39, 100932. Azad, M., Ancev, T. (2020). Assessing the dynamics of natural capital on farms: A soil natural capital indicator. Ecological Economics, 168, 106500. Bassford, M., Fisher, H. (2020). The

Impact of Paid Parental Leave on Fertility Intentions. Economic Record. Beare, B., Seo, J. (2020). Randomization tests of copula symmetry. Econometric Theory, 36(6), 1025-1063. Beare, B., Seo, W. (2020). Representation of I(1) and I(2) autoregressive Hilbertian processes. Econometric Theory, 36(5), 773-802. Beare, B., Toda, A. (2020). On the emergence of a power law in the distribution of COVID-19 cases. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 412, 132649. Birulin, O. (2020). Optimality of simple procurement auctions. International Journal of Industrial Organization, 70, 102610. Birulin, O., Smirnov, V., Wait, A. (2020). The evolving nature of the college wage premium. Economic Modelling, 93, 474-479. Bubonya, M., Cobb-Clark, D. (2020). Pathways of Disadvantage: Unpacking the Intergenerational Correlation in Welfare. Economics of Education Review, 80, 102066. Bullard, J., Singh, A. (2020). Nominal GDP Targeting with Heterogeneous Labor Supply. Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 52(1), 37-77.

525. Chowdhury, S., Mallick, D., Roy Chowdhury, P. (2020). Natural shocks and marriage markets: fluctuations in mehr and dowry in Muslim marriages. European Economic Review, 128(September), 1-28. Damrongplasit, K., Atalay, K. (2020). Billing System and Health Care Utilization: Evidence from Thailand. Journal of Health Economics, 73, 102366. Elkins, R., Schurer, S. (2020). Exploring the role of parental engagement in non-cognitive skill development over the lifecourse. Journal of Population Economics, 33(3), 957-1004. Eo, Y., Lie, D. (2020). Average inflation targeting and interest-rate smoothing. Economics Letters, 189, 1-5. Fisher, L., Huh, H., Kim, D. (2020). Growth Shocks in the United States and China: Effects on Australia’s Growth. Economic Papers, 39(3), 185203. Gainsbury, S., Black, N., Blaszczynski, A., Callaghan, S., Clancey, G., Starcevic, V., Tymula, A. (2020). Reducing Internet Gambling Harms Using Behavioural Science: A Stakeholder Framework. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 598589.

Burkovskaya, A. (2020). On Machina’s paradoxes and limited attention. Economic Theory Bulletin, 8, 231-244.

Gauriot, R., Heger, S., Slonim, R. (2020). Altruism or diminishing marginal utility? Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 180, 24-48.

Cheung, S. (2020). Eliciting utility curvature in time preference. Experimental Economics, 23(2), 493-

Gillitzer, C., Sinning, M. (2020). Nudging businesses to pay their taxes: Does timing matter? Journal of

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Economic Behavior and Organization, 169, 284-300. Gomis-Porqueras, P., Huangfu, S., Sun, H. (2020). The Role of Search Frictions in the Long-Run Relationships Between Inflation, Unemployment and Capital. European Economic Review, 123, 1-20. Guillen, P., Komac, U. (2020). City Form, Economics and Culture: For the Architecture of Public Spaces. Singapore: Springer.

Lee, K., Morley, J., Shields, K., Tan, M. (2020). The Australian Real-Time Fiscal Database: An Overview with Illustrations of Its Use in Analysing Fiscal Policy. Economic Record, 96(312), 87-106. Lok, T., Tabri, R. (2020). An Improved Bootstrap Test for Restricted Stochastic Dominance. Journal of Econometrics, 154(2), 186-202. Mihm, M., Toth, R. (2020). Cooperative Networks with Robust Private Monitoring. Journal of Economic Theory, 185, 1-29.

Heger, S., Slonim, R., Garbarino, E., Wang, C., Waller, D. (2020). Redesigning the market for volunteers: Morley, J., Fazzari, S., Panovska, I. A Donor Registry. Management (2020). When is Discretionary Fiscal Science, 66(8), 3528-3541. Policy Effective? Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics. Jiang, B., Lu, Y., Park, J. (2020). Testing for Stationarity at High Frequency. Morley, J., Hartigan, L. (2020). A Journal of Econometrics, 215(2), 341Factor Model Analysis of the Australian 374. Economy and the Effects of Inflation Targeting. Economic Record, 96(314), Karlan, D., Bajada, C., Melatos, M., 271-293. Morduch, J. (2020). Principles of Economics, 2nd Edition. New York: Morley, J., Panovska, I. (2020). Is McGraw-Hill Education. Business Cycle Asymmetry Intrinsic in Industrialized Economies? Kettlewell, N., Morris, R., Ho, N., Macroeconomic Dynamics, 24(6), Cobb-Clark, D., Cripps, S., Glozier, 1403-1436. N. (2020). The differential impact of major life events on cognitive and Morley, J., Wong, B. (2020). Estimating affective wellbeing. SSM - Population and accounting for the output Health, 10(April 2020), 1-9. gap with large Bayesian vector autoregressions. Journal of Applied Kim, D., Kim, W. (2020). What drives Econometrics, 35(1), 1-18. the labor share of income in South Korea? A regional analysis. Growth and Nguyen, M., Ancev, T., Randall, Change, 51(3), 1304-1335. A. (2020). Forest governance and economic values of forest ecosystem Kimya, M. (2020). Equilibrium services in Vietnam. Land Use Policy, coalitional behavior. Theoretical 97, 1-17. Economics, 15(2), 669-714. Pawson, H., Milligan, V., Yates, J. 61

(2020). Housing Policy in Australia: A Case for System Reform. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. Prasad, S., Tomaino, M. (2020). Resources and culture in organizations. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 29(4), 854-872. Smith, M. (2020). A Reconsideration of the Role of Demand in Malthus’s Theory of Accumulation. Contributions to Political Economy, 39(1), 57-76. Smith, M. (2020). Essays on Theories of Value in the Classical Tradition. Contributions to Political Economy, 39(1), 99-103. Taylor, R. (2020). A Mixed Bag: The Hidden Time Costs of Regulating Consumer Behavior. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 7(2), 345-378. Weinrabe, A., Chung, H., Tymula, A., Tran, J., Hickie, I. (2020). Economic rationality in youth with emerging mood disorders. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, 13(3), 164-177. Wu, J. (2020). Non-competing persuaders. European Economic Review 127, 103454.

2019 Aguiar, V., Kimya, M. (2019). Adaptive Stochastic Search. Journal of Mathematical Economics, 81, 74-83. Alan, S., Atalay, K., Crossley, T. (2019). Euler Equation Estimation on Micro


Data. Macroeconomic Dynamics, 23(8), Butler, D., Cheung, S. (2019). Mind, 3267-3292. Body, Bubble! Psychological and Biophysical Dimensions of Behavior Aspromourgos, A. (2019). What is in Experimental Asset Markets. Supply and Demand? The Marshallian In Gigi Foster (Eds.), Biophysical Cross Versus Classical Economics. Measurement in Experimental Review of Political Economy, 31(1), Social Science Research: Theory 26-41. and Practice, (pp. 167-196). London: Academic Press. Atalay, K., Barrett, G., Siminski, P.

generation on wholesale electricity prices in Australia. Energy Policy, 131, 358-369.

(2019). Pension incentives and the joint retirement of couples: evidence from two natural experiments. Journal of Population Economics, 32(3), 735-767.

Byrne, D., de Roos, N. (2019). Learning to Coordinate: A Study in Retail Gasoline. American Economic Review, 109(2), 591-619.

de Roos, N., Smirnov, V. (2020). Collusion with intertemporal price dispersion. Rand Journal of Economics, 51(1), 158-188.

Atalay, K., Barrett, G., Staneva, A. (2019). The effect of retirement on elderly cognitive functioning. Journal of Health Economics, 66, 37-53.

Caliendo, M., Cobb-Clark, D., Hennecke, J., Uhlendorff, A. (2019). Locus of control and internal migration. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 79, 1-19.

Demirkan, Y., Kimya, M. (2020). Hazard rate, stochastic choice and consideration sets. Journal of Mathematical Economics, 87, 142-150.

Barrett, G., Hamermesh, D. (2019). Labor Supply Elasticities: Overcoming Nonclassical Measurement Error Using More Accurate Hours Data. The Journal of Human Resources, 54(1), 225-265. Barrett, G., Riddell, W. (2019). Ageing and Skills: The Case of Literacy Skills. European Journal of Education: research, development and policies, 54(1), 60-71. Beare, B., Shi, X. (2019). An improved bootstrap test of density ratio ordering. Econometrics and Statistics, 10, 9-26.

Carter, M., Tjernstrom, E., Toledo, P. (2019). Heterogeneous impact dynamics of a rural business development program in Nicaragua. Journal of Development Economics, 138, 77-98. Chen, Y., Kesten, O. (2019). Chinese college admissions and school choice reforms: An experimental study. Games and Economic Behavior, 115, 83-100. Chung, H., Glimcher, P., Tymula, A. (2019). An Experimental Comparison of Risky and Riskless Choice - Limitations of Prospect Theory and Expected Utility Theory. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 11(3), 34-67.

Bubonya, M., Cobb-Clark, D., Christensen, D., Johnson, S., Zubrick, S. (2019). The Great Recession and Children’s Mental Health in Australia. Cobb-Clark, D., Salamanca, N., International Journal of Environmental Zhu, A. (2019). Parenting style as an Research and Public Health, 16(4), 1-19. investment in human development. Journal of Population Economics, Bubonya, M., Cobb-Clark, D., Ribar, 32(4), 1315-1352. D. (2019). The reciprocal relationship between depressive symptoms and employment status. Economics and Human Biology, 35, 96-106. Burkovskaya, A. (2019). Political Economy behind Central Bank Independence. Journal of Macroeconomics, 61, 1-12.

Costas, A., Bullard, J., Singh, A., Suda, J. (2019). Incomplete Credit Markets and Monetary Policy. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 103(June), 83-101. Csereklyei, Z., Qu, S., Ancev, T. (2019). The effect of wind and solar power 62

Currie, J., Duque, V. (2019). Medicaid: What does it do and how can we do it better? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 686(1), 148-179.

Dur, U., Kesten, O. (2019). Sequential versus simultaneous assignment systems and two applications. Economic Theory, 68(2), 251-283. Fisher, H., Zhu, A. (2019). The Effect of Changing Financial Incentives on Repartnering. Economic Journal, 129(10), 2833-2866. Fisher, T., Gavious, I., Martel, J. (2019). Earnings Management in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Abacus, 55(2), 273-305. Garbarino, E., Slonim, R., Villeval, M. (2019). Loss aversion and lying behavior. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 158, 379393. Gillitzer, C., McCarthy, M. (2019). Does global inflation help forecast inflation in industrialized countries? Journal of Applied Econometrics, 34, 850-857. Huh, H., Kim, D. (2019). Sources of fluctuations in hours worked for Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.S.: a sign restriction VAR approach. Applied Economics, 51(15), 1634-1646. John, F., Toth, R., Frank, K., Groeneveld, J., Muller, B. (2019). Ecological Vulnerability Through Insurance? Potential Unintended Consequences of Livestock Drought


Insurance. Ecological Economics, 157, 357-368. Kesten, O., Kurino, M. (2019). Strategyproof improvements upon deferred acceptance: A maximal domain for possibility. Games and Economic Behavior, 117, 120-143. Lie, D. (2019). Observed Inflationtarget Adjustments in an Estimated DSGE Model for Indonesia: Do They Matter for Aggregate Fluctuations? Economic Papers, 38(4), 261-285. Lu, Y., Park, J. (2019). Estimation of longrun variance of continuous time stochastic process using discrete sample. Journal of Econometrics, 210(2), 236-267. Maitra, C., Sethi, V., Unisa, S., Shankar, S. (2019). Household Food Insecurity and Maternal and Child Nutritional Status: Evidence from Maharashtra. Review of Income and Wealth, 65(S1), s63-s101. Morley, J. (2019). Australia, the safe. Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 152(1), 115-120. Morley, J. (2019). The business cycle: periodic pandemic or rollercoaster ride? International Journal of Economic Policy Studies, 13, 425-431. Newton, J., Wait, A., Angus, S. (2019). Watercooler chat, organizational structure and corporate culture. Games and Economic Behavior, 118, 354-365. Nguyen Duc, K., Ancev, T., Randall, A. (2019). Evidence of climatic change in Vietnam: Some implications for agricultural production. Journal of Environmental Management, 231(Feb 2019), 524-545. Page, L., Sarkar, D., Silva-Goncalves, J. (2019). Long-lasting effects of relative age at school. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,

168, 166-195. Rosato, A., Tymula, A. (2019). Loss Aversion and Competition in Vickrey Auctions: Money Ain’t No Good. Games and Economic Behavior, 115, 188-208. Schurer, S., Trajkovski, K., Hariharan, T. (2019). Understanding the mechanisms through which adverse childhood experiences affect lifetime economic outcomes. Labour Economics, 61, 1-16. Seo, W., Beare, B. (2019). Cointegrated linear processes in Bayes Hilbert space. Statistics and Probability Letters, 147, 90-95. Stevens, K., Whelan, S. (2019). Negotiating the Gender Wage Gap. Industrial Relations, 58(2), 141-188. Taylor, R. (2019). Bag leakage: The effect of disposable carryout bag regulations on unregulated bags. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 93, 254-271. Taylor, R., Kaplan, S., Villas-Boas, S., Jung, K. (2019). Soda Wars: The Efect of a Soda Tax Election on University Beverage Sales. Economic Inquiry, 57(3), 1480-1496. Tran, T., Vehbi, T., Wong, B. (2019). Measuring Uncertainty for New Zealand Using Data-Rich Approach. Australian Economic Review, 52(3), 344-352. Tymula, A. (2019). An experimental study of adolescent behavior under peer observation: Adolescents are more impatient and inconsistent, not more risk-taking, when observed by peers. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 166, 735-750. Tymula, A. (2019). Brain Morphometry for Economists: How do Brain Volume Constraints Affect Our Choices? In Gigi Foster (Eds.), Biophysical Measurement in Experimental

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Social Science Research: Theory and Practice, (pp. 31-45). London: Academic Press. Ubilava, D., Abdolrahimi, M. (2019). The El Nino impact on maize yields is amplified in lower income teleconnected countries. Environmental Research Letters, 14(5), 1-13. Ubilava, D., Villoria, N., Tack, J. (2019). Smooth transitions across latitudes and longitudes: An application of a nonlinear panel regression to the climate-economics nexus. Economics Letters, 182, 114-117. Villas-Boas, S., Taylor, R., Deakin, E. (2019). Effects of peer comparisons on low-promotability tasks: Evidence from a university field experiment. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 158, 351-366. White, G. (2019). Some Issues in the Sraffian View of Competition: Starting From Clifton. Review of Political Economy, 31(1), 75-94. Yates, J. (2019). Housing, Housing Costs and Poverty. In Peter Saunders (Eds.), Revisiting Henderson: Poverty, Social Security and Basic Income, (pp. 1-14). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

2018 Agastya, M., Birulin, O. (2018). Value of the Status Quo and Efficient Partnership Dissolution. International Economic Review, 59(4), 2023-2042. Almond, D., Currie, J., Duque, V. (2018). Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II. Journal of Economic Literature, 56(4), 1360-1446. Ancev, T., Merrett, D. (2018). Security Bonding in Unconventional Gas Development: Evidence from an Economic Experiment. Ecological


Economics, 153, 139-146. Appelbaum, E., Melatos, M. (2018). Are customs unions really so scarce? Economic Record, 94(307), 391-404. Aspromourgos, A. (2018). Keynes, Public Debt and the Complex of Interest Rates. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 40(4), 493-512. Aspromourgos, A. (2018). Keynes, Public Debt, And The Complex Of Interest Rates. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 40(4), 493-512.

Agricultural and Resource Economics, 62(3), 420-437. Brown, P., Daigneault, A., Tjernstrom, E., Zou, W. (2018). Natural disasters, social protection, and risk perceptions. World Development, 104, 310-325. Chan, M., Kwok, S. (2018). Connecting the Markets? Recent Evidence on China’s Capital Account Liberalization. Economic Modelling, 70, 417-428.

to housing tax reform. Final Report Series of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), Report No. 301, 1-73. Endut, N., Morley, J., Tien, P. (2018). The changing transmission mechanism of US monetary policy. Empirical Economics, 54(3), 959-987. Fisher, H., Low, H. (2018). Divorce early or divorce late? The long-term financial consequences. Australian Journal of Family Law, 32(2), 6-27.

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