Department of Economics Fraser of Allander Institute
The work and research that we do has a variety of impacts across society. This page highlights just some of the many examples of the impact we have on business, policy and society.
Developing new methods and models for policy
The Department specialises in developing and using the tools of applied economics to help policymakers make more informed decisions. The Fraser of Allander Institute has a long history in developing and using Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models, having developed the first CGE model of Scotland. A version of this model is now used by the Scottish Government for a range of analyses (see below for examples). It is also being adapted and used with our support by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) for analyses of the Northern Irish economy.
We have also made our model available to research supported by the Scottish Policy Foundation - the Scottish Policy Foundation is an independent, apolitical grant-making charitable foundation working to promote objective policy research in order to inform public debate.
In addition to our work on CGE modelling, we have also developed a range of econometric models and tools to inform policymaking. Through a research grant awarded as part of the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, funded by the Office for National Statistics, we have developed a model for nowcasting growth in the regions and nations of the UK. This enables us to produce higher frequency, quarterly, estimates of regional growth to a similar timetable as ONS estimates of UK wide growth. Given that only annual data is currently available for the English regions, and other short term indicators in the other nations of the UK are released with a longer lag, this work provides a substantial improvement in the information available to sub-national policymakers. More information on this project, including the latest estimates, is available here: https://www.escoe.ac.uk/regionalnowcasting/.
Within the department there has also been substantial development of the tools of Bayesian econometrics, led by Gary Koop. Many of these tools are made available routinely on Gary’s webpage for researchers to implement. These tools are widely used by central bank and government researchers undertaking macroeconomic modelling and forecasting. One recent example of this feeding into the policy process is the use of a method for the production of a measure of financial conditions developed by Gary Koop and Dimitris Korobilis which was reported in recent Bank of England inflation reports.
In this section, we summarise some recent policy areas where our research has generated impact.
Brexit has been one of the issues that has dominated the policy agenda in recent years. Throughout this period we have undertaken our own research into elements of the effect of Brexit on Scottish economy. We produced a report, ‘Long—term Implications of Brexit’ for the Scottish Parliament. We also undertook additional analysis of Brexit for the GMB Union. We have also seen the tools that we have developed used by others to explore aspects of the effect of Brexit on the Scottish economy. These include work by the Scottish Government on Brexit in general, migration, and the sectoral impact of Brexit.
Economics of climate change and policy
Another major area of research impact for the department is the application of economic analysis to climate issues and policy. We have developed applications of models to understand the links between the environment and economic activity, and through projects for the Scottish Government have developed economic accounts which include natural capital, so as to better understand how ecosystems services, including water, underpin – and are impacted by – economic activity. This work has included studies of the economic contribution of renewable energy industry for Scottish Renewables (including a detailed focus on offshore wind as part of an EPSRC project), the impacts of changes in dietary choices and the scale and nature of jobs currently supported by the existing energy activities.
Evidence Based Policy
We have a number of projects currently underway which will support improved evidence based policy: these include an evaluation of the effect of maximum class sizes, funded by the Nuffield Foundation; the One Ocean Hub led by the University of Strathclyde with 24 research partners and 35 project partner organisations, which is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Global Challenges Research Fund.
In addition to the departments core funded academic research in support of policymaking, we have also undertaken a number of funded projects for external partners. These are analytical projects that are intended to help external organisation to address specific needs. Some examples:
- Work for the Scottish Government to help determine the ‘cost of a child’ through the implementation of an econometric methodology to explore the effect on household consumption of an additional child.
- Also undertaken work for Scottish Enterprise to support their analysis of the impact on firms of Scottish Enterprise’s suite of grant awards.
- Work for North Ayrshire Council to develop a regular update report on the North Ayrshire economy.
One way in which the department further supports external partners is through undertaking advisory roles. Examples of this include David Eiser’s role as an advisor to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee, and his role as one of the Poverty and Inequality Commissioners. Graeme Roy also serves on the UK Government’s Scottish Business Taskforce, the Scottish Government’s Strategic Labour Market Group, and the Glasgow Commission for Economic Growth.
Publications and wider public contribution
One of the things that defines the University of Strathclyde is a desire to be useful to wider society and the public. One way in which we try to do this is to contribute expertise and insight on the economy in an accessible and understandable way.
Our FAI blog is one of our principal routes to communicate on topical discussions, through analysing the latest economic data, providing comment and analysis on key public debates, and making some of the academic research that we undertake accessible to a more general audience. This is complemented by our Twitter and LinkedIn social media accounts.
We also produce a more traditional (quarterly) update on the Scottish economy through the Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, supported by Deloitte. In addition, we publish a twice-yearly update on the performance of the Scottish labour market in our ‘Scottish Labour Market Trends’ report produced in partnership with the Scottish Centre for Employment Research at the University of Strathclyde. In a landscape of increasing fiscal devolution and growing powers for the Scottish Parliament we produce an annual assessment of the outlook for the Scottish Budget in our ‘Scotland’s Budget’ report.
We also work to stimulate and inform debate, through recent work such as our report for Shepherd and Wedderburn titled “Scotland in 2050: Realising Our Global Potential”. Additionally, we help to conduct survey’s, helping partners such as Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (Oil & Gas Survey), Scottish Chambers’ of Commerce (Scottish chambers’ Quarterly Economic Indicator survey), and the Scottish Business Monitor.
We hold regular events throughout the year, focused on the UK Budget and what this means for Scotland, the outlook for the Scottish Budget, and an annual economic and fiscal forecasting workshop. These are supplemented with topical events throughout the year, a recent example is hosting a visit and seminar by Michael Saunders, an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. Upcoming events can be found on our website.
Supporting businesses and organisations to grow and develop
One of the streams of our activity, focussed around the Fraser of Allander Institute, is work to help businesses understand their economic contribution. Some recent examples of this work include economic impact assessments for Wheatley Group (Glasgow Housing Association), Celtic Football Club, Colleges Scotland and Scottish Property Federation.
Supporting the development of the next generation of economists
One of the Department’s main roles is of course teaching. We seek to develop new economists to grow and develop their skills and knowledge. More details on our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching activities are available on our website. We work closely to embed insights and opportunities from external partners into our teaching and into our offering to our students. One example of this is through our MSc Applied Economics degree programme where we work with external organisations to develop projects for the students to undertake over the summer which will provide the basis for their final reports.
In support of our students, and our external partners, we also host regular careers events where employers can meet our students and our students can learn about the employment opportunities available to them in the public, private and third sectors.
With financial support from the Scottish Funding Council, we have just launched a Summer School in applied economics and a suite of summer internship opportunities across the public sector open to all economics students in Scotland. This will help provide opportunities for undergraduate students to learn more about pursuing a career in economics, from professional economists. We also play host to a number of research internships through the internal ResearchInterns@Strathclyde and external Carnegie Vacation Scholarship programmes.
Fraser of Allander Institute
Strathclyde Business School
University of Strathclyde
199 Cathedral Street