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Early marriage, social networks and the transmission of norms

zaki wahhaj 120x120A new discussion paper by Niaz Asadullah and Zaki Wahhaj, KDPE 1602, February 2016

Non-technical summary

A third of women in developing countries around the world marry before the age of 18, and about one in nine before the age of 15. A large literature argues that early marriage disrupts the accumulation of human capital among adolescent girls due to early school drop-out, withdrawal from labour markets and adverse effects on health from early childbearing.

International development agencies, national governments and NGO's have made concerted efforts in recent years to lower the incidence of early marriage through new legislation on child marriage, improved enforcement of existing laws and interventions aimed at adolescents.

CEAS seminar: Professor Michael Burton

the kimberleyThe Centre for European Agri-Environmental Economics (CEAS) is pleased to announce a seminar by Professor Michael Burton, Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia.  Professor Burton will talk on ‘Spatially explicit discrete choice experiments: an application to coastal management in The Kimberley, Western Australia’.

The seminar will be on Wednesday 10 February 2016, 1-2 pm in Keynes Lecture Theatre 2, University of Kent. All welcome.

For further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see the CEAS website.

Intra-household resource allocation and familial ties

zaki wahhaj 120x120A new discussion paper by Harounan Kazianga and Zaki Wahhaj, KDPE 1601, January 2016

Non-technical summary

The question as to how resources are allocated within households has long been of interest to economists. Particularly in societies where state support and market institutions are weak, the household remains an important unit of production, and investment in the human capital of children.

The two theories of intra-household allocation that have received the most attention in the academic literature and tested most frequently using household data are the Unitary Model and the Collective Model. The Unitary Model, which postulates that the household behaves as if it were a single individual, has been consistently rejected by empirical evidence.

CEAS PhD microeconomics workshop

Farmland with poppiesThe Centre for European Agri-Environmental Economics (CEAS) is to hold a PhD workshop on microeconomics on Thursday 26 November 2015, chaired by Ulrike Hotopp, Chief Economist at Defra.

The workshop is designed for PhD students with an interest in agri-environmental topics, however any Economics staff and PhD students are welcome to attend. The workshop will give the opportunity for PhD students at the earlier stages of their research to present and discuss preliminary results, and also for more advanced students to present chapters of their PhD and receive advice on how they can best publish their work. There will be six presentations, each lasting for 20-25 minutes followed by 5-10 minutes discussion at the end.

The seminar will be held at the University of Kent, Cornwallis North West seminar room 7 (CNWsr7).  For further information, see the CEAS website.

Professor Jagjit Chadha to give Jubilee Lecture

jagjit chadha squareInsights from Economist Professor Jagjit Chadha: The School’s Professor Chadha will be giving the Jubilee Lecture this evening at the Staple Inn Actuarial Society, Staple Inn Hall, London, 5.30 for 6.00pm.

In addition to his position as Professor and Chair in Money and Banking at Kent, Jagjit is an adviser to the Treasury Select Committee, Bank of England and other policy making institutions. His research interests lie in macroeconomics with a focus on monetary issues.

There will be live tweeting available via #SIASNov15 during the talk, so you can get involved with any comments and questions.

Endogenous divorce and human capital production

keynes collegeA new discussion paper by Amanda Gosling and María D. C. Garcia-AlonsoKDPE 1521, October 2015

Non-technical summary

This paper presents a model that can explain why parents who care about their children may file for divorce. We show that the gains to cooperation (our definition of marriage) depend on any disparity in preference for children’s human capital outcomes between the two parents and the production technology of such outcomes. In addition we show that the gains to marriage are asymmetric, the parent who cares less about the human capital of the children is always better off cooperating while the parent who cares most may be better off acting independently. This is because after divorce she has full control over her time use. We assume that both preferences and technology are only realised after the birth of the child. The arrival of a child is thus the source of an asymmetric shock to the gains to cooperation. We show further that the effect of divorce on children’s outcomes is ambiguous.

The costs of business cycles

Professor Jagjit ChadhaHow much would you pay to avoid a recession? In other words, can we place a price on the economic costs of business cycle fluctuations? Standard economic models give some clues but they bring difficulties. Can we account for the known difficulties with these models, or is it yet more complicated? In the real world, might government policy have already acted to reduce the costs of fluctuations?

The School’s Professor Jagjit Chadha is the Mercers' School Memorial Professor of Commerce at Gresham College. He gave the latest in a series of lectures on 10 October on the subject of ‘The Costs of Business Cycles’.  You can view the complete lecture here:

You can view past lectures by Professor Chadha plus details of future ones at

Trend dominance in macroeconomic fluctuations

katsuyuki shibayama 120x120A new discussion paper by Katsuyuki Shibayama, KDPE 1518, September 2015

Non-technical summary

Most macroeconomic variables are trended. For example, GDP in level grows over time and hence plotting it we see upward increasing trend. Partly because, as the size of an economy increases, everything tends to increase in parallel, this is rather common phenomenon. Statistically, dealing with trended variables are not as easy as stationary variables. For example, the mean of a trended variables are not well defined. In addition, most macroeconomic models are designed to capture the economic fluctuations at business cycle frequencies (8-32 quarters, for example). Because of these reasons, it is quite common to detrend the macro variables when some statistical inferences are made.

A fast algorithm for finding the confidence set

sylvain barde 120x120A new discussion paper by Sylvain BardeKDPE 1519, September 2015

Non-technical summary

Social scientists often do not have the benefit of being able to run or replicate experiments in order to generate new data and end up re-using the same datasets when evaluating the explanatory power of new models compared to older models. As pointed out by White (2000), such sequential testing of models on a fixed amount of data leads to the problem known as ‘data snooping’, in which the initially small probability of a poor model appearing good by random chance gets amplified by repeated testing. Ignoring this effect or naively selecting the best-fitting model without further testing can often lead to incorrectly identifying as a ‘best’ a model that in fact has no real predictive power on the data. In order to help avoid this problem, White proposes a ‘Reality Check’ procedure which tests the null hypothesis that no model in a given collection outperforms a given benchmark model.

A theory of child marriage

zaki wahhaj 120x120A new discussion paper by Zaki Wahhaj, KDPE 1520, September 2015

Non-technical summary

The practice of early marriage for women is prevalent in developing countries around the world today, and is believed to cause significant disruption in their accumulation of human capital, due to early school drop-out, withdrawal from labour markets, and the adverse effects on health from early childbearing.

This paper develops a theoretical model of the marriage market to explain how the practice may be sustained in the absence of any intrinsic preference for young brides. We start with the assumption that a desirable female attribute, relevant for the gains from marriage, is only noisily observed before a marriage is contracted. This is meant to represent the phenomenon that, in patriarchal societies, the 'honour' of a family is strongly linked to the 'purity' of its female members, and experiences or associations that a girl may have outside of the paternal home can create uncertainty regarding her 'purity'.