University of Kent

Welcome to our Research Blog

View articles

Strategic trade control contract award

Dr Maria Garcia-AlonsoDr Maria Garcia-Alonso from the School of Economics has been awarded a partnership in a framework contract for the provision of expertise on strategic trade control-related activities. The framework contract will provide the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission with technical expertise and support from external academia experts with proven experience in the field for thematic multi-disciplinary research work, preparation of training material and delivery of training, editorial and web support content.

Was Domar right? Serfdom and factor endowments in Bohemia

Dr Alex Kleinby Alexander Klein and Sheilagh Ogilvie, discussion paper KDPE 1717, October 2017.

Non-technical summary:

What causes labor coercion? It appears informally in most economies, but in some it prevails as a formal system of slavery or serfdom, with wide economic repercussions. Serfdom existed in most European economies for long periods between c. 800 and c. 1860. In many serf economies, most rural families were obliged to do coerced labor for landlords. Since the rural economy produced 80 to 90 percent of pre-industrial GDP, serfdom affected the majority of economic activity.

Disputes, debt and equity

Dr Alfred Duncanby Alfred Duncan and Charles Nolan, discussion paper KDPE 1716, July 2017.

Non-technical summary:

We provide a new justification for the widespread use of debt finance as an alternative to equity finance. We show that when the returns of investment projects can only be partially observed by outside financiers, and this partial observation is itself costly, then the optimal contract agreed between entrepreneurs and outside financiers takes the form of a standard debt contract.

A long-run perspective on the spatial concentration of manufacturing industries in the United States

Dr Alex Kleinby Nicholas Crafts and Alexander Klein, discussion paper KDPE 1715, August 2017.

Non-technical summary:

It is well-known that patterns of regional specialization and the spatial concentration of manufacturing industries have changed markedly over time. Kim and Margo (2004) describe a trajectory where regional divergence developed in the context of industrialization during the late 19th and early 20th centuries but was then superseded by regional convergence in the second half of the 20th century. Holmes and Stevens (2004) stress that this latter phase is notable for the decline of the manufacturing belt in which 70 per cent of manufacturing employment was located in 1947 but only 40 per cent by 1999.

Brazil nuts are rocketing in price - here’s why

Professor Iain FraserSometimes the price of certain foods rise suddenly and exponentially. For example, earlier this year it was iceberg lettuce, broccoli and courgettes in the UK, while in the US and Canada it was cauliflowers and lettuce, and more recently there have been sharp rises in the price of avocados. And it may only be a matter of time until we hear about an increase in the price of wine from France and Italy as a result of the poor grape harvest in 2017.

Currently spiking in price are Brazil nuts: the price of the nuts rose 61% during the middle of 2017. Is this another example of price volatility that consumers will have to get used to, or are Brazil nuts a special case?

Kent workshop on networks in economics

Kent Workshop on Networks in EconomicsOn Friday 29 September, the School of Economics hosted a workshop on the economics of networks. Organised by Nizar Allouch and Bansi Malde, the workshop brought together leading researchers working on both theoretical and empirical topics within this area. The speakers were Sanjeev Goyal (Cambridge), Yann Bramoullé (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), Gabrielle Demange (EHESS and Paris School of Economics), Cynthia Kinnan (Northwestern), Friederike Mengel (Essex) and Julien Labonne (Oxford).

Expert comment: Female Rohingya refugees at risk of forced marriage

Dr Zaki WahhajDr Zaki Wahhaj from the School of Economics discusses the risk that young female Rohingya refugees are at increased risk of forced marriage as a result of their plight.

‘In recent weeks the plight of Rohingya refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh to escape violence in the Rakhine province of Myanmar has received wide coverage in the international news media. The United Nations has documented graphic accounts of sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls by Myanmar security forces.

Expert comment: Brexit could affect global efforts to control arms trade

Dr Maria Garcia-AlonsoDr Maria Garcia-Alonso, a senior lecturer in economics, comments in response to Michael Fallon’s statements that the UK will “spread its wings across the world” with defence and arms exports post-Brexit.

‘As the arms trade is exempted from agreements to limit exports subsidies, governments are free to promote their arms exports in a variety of ways. While the government has to wait to negotiate other trade agreements until Brexit comes into effect, it remains free to promote arms trade deals around the world.

Economic consequences of non-export control

Dr Maria Garcia-AlonsoDr Maria Garcia-Alonso was a guest lecturer at the Third EU Summer University on Strategic Trade Control and Non-Proliferation in Alpbach, Austria from 9-16 August. The event was part of the EU Partner-to-Partner Export Control Programme for dual use goods ( The European Union is a long-standing provider of capacity-building activities aimed at the overall strengthening of export controls worldwide.

Allocative efficiency of UK firms during the Great Recession

Florian Gerthby Florian Gerth, discussion paper KDPE 1714, September 2017.

Non-technical summary:

Research shows that financial crises are accompanied by severe and long-lasting drops in TFP. The most recent Global Financial Crisis does not seem to be any different from this pattern. On the contrary, Gerth and Otsu (2017) find significant correlations between financial variables and long-lasting drops in aggregate productivity measures for a myriad of European countries. This finding matches a branch of structural models that saw their advent in the aftermath of the financial crisis that began by the end of 2007. Even though each of these models chooses different measures to indicate financial distress in the economy, the mechanism how a financial shocks propagates is uniform. That is, through resource misallocation. This study therefore tries to empirically determine whether these models are valid to explain the behaviour of the UK economy during the last 8 years. In order to do this, the paper relies on the FAME dataset. This is a micro-level dataset that contains more than 9 million firms within the UK.