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REA Scholarship - Government & Public Policy

The aim of the research is to use highly disaggregated local data to explore local variations in happiness, focussing on how deprivation affects happiness.

Number of places

1

Opens

19 December 2017

Deadline

23 March 2018

Duration

3 years

Eligibility

The candidate should have a first or second class Honours degree (minimum 2.1) and/or a Masters degree in a closely related discipline.

International students are welcome to apply but must pay the difference between the EU and the International fee each year.

Project Details

HOW DOES WHERE YOU LIVE AFFECT HOW HAPPY YOU ARE? INVESTIGATING WELLBEING IN DEPRIVED COMMUNITIES

What explains variation in the well-being or ‘happiness’ of people?  Academic and policy research has found that the main factors contributing to happiness are good health and being in employment. Other factors also play a lesser role: age, gender, ethnicity, education and having children.  However, a currently under-researched area is how the local environment, especially in relation to deprived communities, influences happiness. The aim of the research is to use highly disaggregated local data to explore local variations in happiness, focussing on how deprivation affects happiness. The research contends that many of the factors that affect happiness are experienced at a very local level. A key objective is to deepen understanding by developing an area-based model, which would access and analyse data at this level and identify effects that more aggregate analysis cannot detect. This would extend an existing model, developed by the student and colleagues that identified the impact of local conditions on happiness by including these within an approach that also allows for other influences (age, gender, health, etc.). The specific local area variables incorporated included measures of local social capital, income inequality, deprivation, crime and measures of the quality local public services (education and health services). The research produced some counter-intuitive results, for instance concerning the relationship between deprivation income equality or incidence of crime and happiness. These results are almost certainly due to inadequate measures for the relevant variables at the appropriate territorial scale. Small areas can differ substantially in terms of deprivation measures and there are variations at the local level, which the data could not pick up.  A more definite answer to the question of how locality affects happiness can be found by developing a model that more accurately reflects the quality of life at a more local level. The PhD will extend the existing model to include new, detailed local measures and data. This will include linking data in the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) with data provided by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).  These sources can be used to identify how all areas (deprived and non-deprived) differ in terms of the quality of the local neighbourhood and to derive a range of measures of the quality of life in the local neighbourhood. Other authors have linked similar sources to develop models designed to predict household income from both personal and area characteristics, using exactly the methods proposed here. They have found a clear decline in the degrees of model fit (R-squared or the percent of variation explained by the model) as the geographic units become larger.  From a policy perspective, the development of a model able to detect and explain variation in happiness at the local neighbourhood level will help inform the design of interventions and identify how resources should be directed across such areas to increase happiness. It should be noted that while the focus of analysis is on Scotland, the research has potential applications at the UK level and internationally.

Funding Details

Home/EU Tuition Fees, plus Stipend starting at £14,917 p.a. (October 2018).  International students are welcome to apply but must pay the difference between the EU and the International fee each year.

Contact us

Dr Sara Davies

Email:  sara.davies@strath.ac.uk

Telephone:  (0141) 548 3932

Prof John Batchler

Email:  john.batchler@strath.ac.uk

Telephone:  (0141) 5483339

Or

Graduate School

Email: hass_postgrad@strath.ac.uk

Telephone: (0141) 444 8400


How to apply

All candidates must apply online.

In the "Programme Name" field, pleases select “PhD Politics”

In the "Funding" section, please write ‘REA Scholarship’.

You should upload the following documents with your application:

  • A short research proposal of no more than 1000 words that provides an overview of the research context and proposed research design.
  • CV
  • Covering letter describing in detail your interest in and suitability for undertaking this project
  • Degree transcripts (this may be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • Two academic references