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iain fraser 120x120"If you had been a canny investor back in 2008, you could have done a lot worse than make a substantial bet on upmarket ice cream futures. The price of vanilla beans has rocketed from as little as US$25 per kilo eight years ago up to US$240 at the end of 2016. Some forecasts predict it will reach as much as US$450 per kilo by the middle of 2017. Even by the standards of volatile prices in agricultural commodities such as rice and grains this is exceptional.

Unlike other price increases that were shortlived and the result of policy decisions, the price of vanilla beans is being driven by something else. In short, it is all down to us, the fickle consumer and our love of authentic cones, custard and crème brûlée..."

This is an excerpt from an article by the School's Professor Iain Fraser, published in The Conversation on 27 February 2017. Click here to read the full article.

sashana whyteEconomics PhD student, Sashana Whyte, has been selected to join the Young Professionals Program of the World Bank from September this year.

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keynes collegeA new discussion paper by Adelina Gschwandtner, Sarah L. Jewell and Uma Kambhampati, KDPE 1613, December 2016

Non-technical summary

Diet and life style diseases have become the main causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Both in the US and in Europe, the consumption of meat, dairy products, oil and  fat,  sugar,  and  alcoholic  beverages  has  increased  in  the  second  half  of  the  20th century. This, together with drug abuse, tobacco and lack of exercise, has increased the risk of developing certain chronic diseases like some types of cancer, heart disease, stroke and obesity. In particular obesity, with its attendant impact on health, has become a central problem in many Western economies.

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keynes college

A study from the School of Economics has found that an increase in Asian elderly population share will significantly lower economic growth due to decreased labour participation in the region.

The results of the study implies that governments facing population ageing have a challenging task to provide social security and public services for the aged while maintaining economic growth. This fundamental issue is common across all economies around the world.

Many Asian economies are currently faced with the challenge of rapidly ageing population, which can be harmful to the economy in the long run. The study, conducted by Dr Keisuke Otsu and Dr Katsuyuki Shibayama from the University’s School of Economics with the results published in Asian Development Review, analysed the effects of projected population ageing on potential growth in Asian economies over the period 2015–2050 using quantitative assessment.

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keynes collegeA new discussion paper by Adelina Gschwandtner and Stefan Hirsch, KDPE 1612, December 2016

Non-technical summary

The present project analyses what drives profitability in the food sector and compares the results with the manufacturing industry in general but also between the European Union and the United States.

One of the main findings is that competition is stronger and profitability is lower within the food sector as  compared with the manufacturing sector in general. This is mainly attributable to a high market saturation and to the fierce competition between the big retail companies. While the competition profits the consumer, it puts strong bargaining pressure on the producers. Therefore, one of the main drivers of profitability and profit persistence within the food sector is firm size. Larger producers seem to be in a better bargaining position against the retail sector and this seems to be both the case in the EU and in the US.

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