Undergraduate Papers in Economics

Showcasing high quality work from our talented undergraduates

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We publish our undergraduate papers twice a year, in spring and autumn to highlight the breadth and quality of work produced by our undergraduate students. View the autumn 2017 volume below: a selection of papers from students who graduated in 2015.

Volume 1: Autumn 2017

'The effects of weather on wheat yields in Victoria, Australia: an empirical study' by Jess Arkesden

The effects of weather on wheat yields in Victoria, Australia: an empirical study by Jess Arkesden

This study looks at the impacts that weather variables have on wheat yields in the state of Victoria, Australia. Both basic measures (temperature and precipitation) and complex measures (evapotranspiration rate and the Standardised Precipitation Index) are used. Econometric analysis is used to estimate the effect these variables have on wheat yields for 1953-2011, whilst including non-linear, interaction terms and dummy variables for extreme weather events. The regression results show that variations from the average temperature and rainfall have a negative impact on yields. However, drought has a larger and more significant impact on wheat in Victoria than changes in precipitation. 

'The impact of quantitative easing on financial markets in the United Kingdom' by James Barrie

The impact of quantitative easing on financial markets in the United Kingdom by James Barrie

Following the global financial crisis, the Bank of England was forced to take dramatic measures in an attempt to improve the UK economy. In March 2009, the Bank of England launched an unprecedented, large-scale asset-purchasing programme called quantitative easing. By October 2012, the Bank had bought £375bn worth of assets, primarily government bonds. This paper attempts a provisional evaluation of the impact of quantitative easing on financial markets in the UK and, to a lesser extent, the economy more generally. At this point in time, it is very difficult to assess these impacts by conventional means. As a result, prior studies have typically used event study analysis in attempts to quantify the policy’s impact. After reviewing the event study literature, the findings from the paper’s own qualitative survey of financial market experts are presented. We are able to draw two main conclusions. Firstly, the policy has had a significant effect on financial markets in much the way that was both intended and expected. In so doing, it is believed that quantitative easing will also have played an important role in stabilising the economy following the recession. This study points to a negative effect of around 50 basis points on gilt yields. However, it remains difficult to estimate the exact size of the effect that the policy has had. Secondly, the evidence suggests that the policy’s main influence came through a portfolio rebalancing channel. As always, there is more research that can, and will, be done and it’s hoped that the survey-based approach adopted by this paper can be extended in the future.

'The Impact of the ‘One-Child Policy’ on China’s Aggregate Household Savings – An Econometric Analysis' by Lele Ding

The Impact of the ‘One-Child Policy’ on China’s Aggregate Household Savings – An Econometric Analysis by Lele Ding

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the impact of the One-Child Policy on China’s aggregate household savings. There are four proxies for the One-Child Policy: the total fertility rate, annual population growth rate, age structure, and gender ratio. The purpose of this dissertation thus has been achieved by investigating the statistical relationships between these four demographic factors and China’s aggregate household savings, in light of the theory of Life-Cycle Saving. An ordinary least squares regression model has been conducted based on the cross-sectional annual data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China and the World Bank for the period of 1980-2012. The results of multiple regressions illustrate that the One-Child Policy has a statistically significant relationship with China’s aggregate household savings.

'How Has Inequality Been a Cause of Violence in Post-dictatorship Brazil?' by Samson Hart

How Has Inequality Been a Cause of Violence in Post-dictatorship Brazil? by Samson Hart

This thesis explores the relationship between violence and inequality, beginning with an assessment of the historical context of violence and inequality in Brazil, and a review of the literature on these topics. The thesis goes on to qualitatively assess relevant theoretical frameworks, namely from Amartya Sen on inequality and Johan Galtung on violence, to develop a theoretical understanding of both the concepts of inequality and violence, in order to provide a more focused conceptualisation and a basis for their measurement. Finally, this thesis sets out a quantitative case study analysis of the relationship between violence and inequality in Brazil from 1985-2012, referring to different sources of data. The paper concludes that, given the limitations of the study, the data does not necessarily prove a causal relationship between inequality and violence. It does, however, provide enough evidence to call for the use of redistributive economic policy as a long-term preventative measure of violence.

'Is a trade-off between justice and efficiency inevitable? A comparative study of European welfare states between 2001 and 2013' by Kasia Lipka

Is a trade-off between justice and efficiency inevitable? A comparative study of European welfare states between 2001 and 2013 by Kasia Lipka

The trade-off between justice and economic efficiency is a key debate in welfare state economics. This study addresses whether a trade-off is inevitable and whether the financial crisis of 2008 has influenced this. An index measure of efficiency and justice is produced in order to conduct both cross-country and cross-time comparisons of performance across three European welfare states: Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom, before and after the financial crisis. Detailed case studies are conducted to in order to explain the results in policy terms and to determine the conditions under which a trade-off may exist. The following findings are presented; 1) A trade-off between justice and efficiency is not inevitable, but it occurs in certain circumstances, 2) The existence of a trade-off is largely determined by the extensiveness of the tax system and the role of core societal values, 3) The financial crisis of 2008 has had a mixed impact on the existence of a trade-off in European welfare states

'Prison Labour: Should the UK follow the US’s example?' by Jake Lush McCrum

Prison Labour: Should the UK follow the US’s example? by Jake Lush McCrum

This paper seeks to assess the impact of the growth of prison labour in the US on its three main stakeholders: the prisoners; the firms employing the prisoners; and society as a whole. It will then explore whether the UK should follow a similar expansion, using in-depth interviews with eight important figures both in- and outside the UK prison industry as well as existing research into current practice. No previous study has compared prison labour in the UK with that in the US. Following analysis of the literature on prison literature in the US and interviews with relevant UK individuals, the paper concludes that prison labour has the potential to have a positive net effect on society.

'How are rating agencies perceived following the US financial crisis? What were their main shortfalls? Insights from academics and professionals' by Timothy Sapsford

How are rating agencies perceived following the US financial crisis? What were their main shortfalls? Insights from academics and professionals by Timothy Sapsford

This research project looks at how academics and professionals with economics or finance backgrounds perceive rating agencies and their shortfalls following the US financial crisis. The paper attempts to fill a gap in the present literature, namely, the lack of qualitative research depicting people’s perceptions on the subject matter. The researcher engaged in in-depth interviews to retrieve this data, where four central themes were identified: (i) loss of reputation, (ii) conflict of interest, (iii) complexity and lack of judgement and (iv) lack of competition in the industry. The sample believed that rating agencies’ reputation has been negatively affected. Nevertheless, at least some of the interviewees continue to see their overall function in financial markets as positive. The data was inconclusive in regard to whether a change in the business model affected the way rating agencies operate. It showed, however, that the sample believed that conflicting interests were inherent in the current system. The participants also showed their concerns about the complexity of the structured debt and the inability of raters to decipher the risk associated with them. The view that raters lost a grip on reality and lost their sense of judgement was also prevalent. Whilst the majority of participants believed the lack of competition in the industry affected rating

'An econometric study into the impact of the current account on house price growth in the United States' by George Vernon

An econometric study into the impact of the current account on house price growth in the United States by George Vernon

This dissertation investigates the impact of the current account on house price growth in the United States between Q4 1977 and Q4 2013. An econometric analysis is used to estimate the effect of changes in the current account balance on house price growth over the period, whilst accounting for a range of control variables. The regression results show that throughout the period, negative changes in the current account balance were associated with higher levels of house price growth. This finding holds even when controlling for potential reverse causality. However, the econometric model fails to account for all of the variation in house price growth and as such omitted variable bias cannot be ruled out.

'The Effect of the UK’s Smoke Free Law on Smoking Prevalence, Tobacco Related Hospital Admissions and NHS Expenditure' by Kate Wales

The Effect of the UK’s Smoke Free Law on Smoking Prevalence, Tobacco Related Hospital Admissions and NHS Expenditure – A Discussion Seven Years following the Public Smoking Ban by Kate Wales

The consumption of tobacco is a widely researched and discussed area, particularly in terms of health effects. This dissertation aims to add to current and past literature by discussing the impact the smoke free legislation has had on smoking prevalence, tobacco related hospital admissions and consequently NHS expenditure on tobacco related diseases. Particular analysis will be given in terms of age, gender and occupational classification. The methodology and data used is discussed, giving limitations and reference to the quality. The results present the data between years 1974 and 2013, giving interpretation to the trends found. In conclusion, this dissertation finds that smoking prevalence has been largely uninfluenced by the introduction of the smoking ban and hospital admissions due to tobacco related diseases are yet to decline.

'The Impacts of Immigration on Wages and Unemployment in England: An Empirical Investigation' by George Wibberley

The Impacts of Immigration on Wages and Unemployment in England: An Empirical Investigation by George Wibberley

The economic effects of immigration have become increasingly important within the UK over recent decades but there is no general consensus on the impact of immigration on unemployment and wages. Within the existing literature, a number of authors have attempted to empirically measure the impacts of immigration on labour market outcomes within the UK at a national level. However, my study aims to use regional level data from England across the period 2005 to 2012 to analyse the impacts of immigration on unemployment and wages. My results show that immigration has no significant effects on either unemployment or wages at a regional level.

'The Impacts of Digital Currency on China's Monetary System' by Qianru Xiang

The Impacts of Digital Currency on China's Monetary System by Qianru Xiang

This dissertation contributes to the evaluation of how digital currency would affect the monetary system by studying the influence on money demand and supply, as well as the velocity of money. After exploring the characteristics of digital currency and comparing functions with fiat currency, this dissertation establishes an econometric model to explore further the relationship between digital currency, money supply and the velocity of money in the China monetary system. In order to quantify the effects of digital currency on the changing amount of fiat currency, by analysing cash ratio, electronic currency level, financial electronic level and interest rate, this research suggests that the extension of digital currency could bring variation to the velocity of money in both the long and short term. Although the initial stage of digital currency limits the results analysis, by discussing the impacts of digital currency on the central bank of China, this dissertation concludes with China’s monetary policy recommendations.