Skills and Innovation in the Labour Market

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Economics


Undertaking the ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship will be of enormous benefit for consolidating my PhD research on labour economics. My aims for the Fellowship are to publish the papers from my PhD, and also carry out further limited research for two of my PhD papers. Another objective is to define a comprehensive research agenda for the coming years. For this new agenda I propose to investigate the mechanisms of economic adjustment to a skilled labour supply shock, which has important effects on wages, employment, the evolution of skills and the longer-run comparative advantage of an economy. During my ESRC Fellowship I will communicate the findings from my research to a range of different audiences, thereby building networks with other researchers and developing impact opportunities. For this purpose, I propose to undertake a one-month research visit at the Center for Labor Economics at the University of California at Berkeley, one of the world's best places for research in labour economics.

In my research I use detailed historical, census and administrative micro-data, and apply quantitative methods to identify the causal effects of policies. My research is part of a broader recent move toward providing data-driven insights into policy questions. My PhD dissertation consists of three separate chapters on labour economics that provide novel results about the mechanisms at play when incentives for production and location decisions change. The findings from my work have implications for policies on innovation, the integration of minorities and labour market reforms.

My first chapter asks whether financial incentives can induce inventors to innovate more. For this analysis I exploit a large reduction in the patent fee in the United Kingdom in 1884 and created a detailed new dataset of 54,000 British inventors in an extensive data collection effort. The results indicate efficiency gains from decreasing the cost of inventing and in addition, from relaxing credit constraints.

The second PhD paper investigates the effects of changes in ethnic neighbourhood composition in England and Wales. The findings imply that an exogenous increase in a neighbourhood's social housing minority share by 10 percentage points raises the minority share in private housing by 1.2 percentage points. It also leads to higher local population growth and a small decrease in house prices in the longer run.

In the third PhD paper we assess the effects of comprehensive labour market reforms on employment and wages in Germany from 2003-2005. Contrary to previous findings, our analysis shows that the reforms marginally reduced unemployment at the cost of a pronounced decline in wages. Low-skilled workers suffered the largest wage losses.

My proposed host institution for the ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Department of Economics at the University College London (UCL), is one of the best economics departments in Europe and worldwide. Within the Department of Economics, I will be part of the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), which is one of the most renowned research centres on the quantitative analysis of labour markets and migration, with a long-standing network and experience in informing the public debate on issues of critical policy concern.

My mentor Professor Uta Schönberg is a leading expert in labour economics with a strong track record of publishing policy relevant research in the top academic journals in economics. The research agenda and expertise of my mentor overlaps closely with my proposed programme of work. With Professor Uta Schönberg as my mentor, and being a fully integrated member of CReAM and the Department of Economics at the UCL, I will be able to draw on highly specialised knowledge in applied labour economics. The ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship would provide me with an excellent opportunity to consolidate my academic portfolio in order to obtain a permanent lectureship position in the future.


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Bradley J (2019) Labor market reforms: An evaluation of the Hartz policies in Germany in European Economic Review

Description This award has allowed me to gain further insights into the research carried out during my PhD on policies on innovation, the integration of minorities and labour market reforms. This was achieved by carrying out further data gathering and analysis, but also by presenting and discussing these findings in a number of seminars, conferences and during a research visit. These activities helped distribute the findings of my research, build a network of researchers, and led to a new research collaboration. One project that evaluates labour market reforms in Germany in the 2000s underwent a constructive revision process and was published in an academic journal, thereby sparking a lively policy debate on twitter.
Exploitation Route The outputs of my research are accessible in the form of working papers and publications, and serve as building blocks for other researchers working on related questions as well as for policy makers.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

Description The outputs of my research are accessible in the form of working papers and publications, they contribute to the public debate on these topics and serve as building blocks for other researchers working on related questions as well as for policy makers.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description The Effects of the Large-Scale Migration of Venezuelans to Colombia 
Organisation University of California, Berkeley
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Jointly with my co-author Arlen Guarin I developed the idea and methodology for the analysis, as well as the strategy to collect data for this research project.
Collaborator Contribution My co-author Arlen Guarin is a PhD student in Economics at University of California at Berkeley, and as a Colombian national, is leading the efforts to access and collect micro-data on Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. We have brought together a number of administrative datasets on immigrants and the Colombian labour market, which are key ingredients for our analysis.
Impact We have collected a number of micro-data sets that serve as crucial inputs for our analysis. So far we have produced a working paper that describes initial results. We continue extending our analysis to sectors and the effects on high- versus low-skilled workers, for which we have compiled additional data.
Start Year 2019
Description Involvement in working group on Populism, Inequality and Institutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I became part of a working group that looks at the link between labour markets, inequality and populism. This group met at the Norface DIAL Workshop in London in January 2019, the Norface DIAL Conference in Turku, Finland, in June 2019 as well as the Norface Populism, Inequality and Institutions Workshop in London in September 2019. I presented my research at each of these events, contributed to discussions and exchange knowledge with researchers and practitioners across disciplines.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Presentations and conference attendance 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented my research at the University of California at Berkeley, and participated in the Society of Labor Economists Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, as well as the Glasgow Migration and Mobility Workshop. I also presented my research in three internal workshops at University College London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Research presentations and dissemination 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented my research at Asian and Australasian Society of Labour Economics Annual Conference in Seoul, South Korea, in December 2018, and at the University of Mannheim in February 2019. People in the audience included students, academics, professionals and practitioners, who I discussed my research approaches, data and findings with extensively after the presentations. I also gave guest lectures in the UCL PhD course Empirical Methods for the Study of the Labour Market in January 2019. In this course, which is attended by UCL PhD students, I shared knowledge from my research experience and advised PhD students on their PhD research projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019