Staff Research Interests
Research Interests and Topics Relevant to Postgraduate Research Students: 2022 -2023
Below are the research interests of the staff in the Department of Economics, and economists in other departments who are interested in supervising PhD students registered in the Department of Economics. In some cases, staff members have indicated specific projects which not only interest them but also for which they may have funding for PhD students. Please contact them directly if you are interested.
Supervisor: Professor Agustin Bénétrix
Agustín Bénétrix specialises in applied international macroeconomics. He is happy to supervise graduate students in the following areas:
- Financial globalisation: determinants and economic effects of capital flows and investment positions; current account dynamics; sudden stops; international financial exposures; financial exchange rates; international risk sharing
- Fiscal policy in open economies: short- and long-run effects of fiscal shocks on output composition, exchange rates and employment; debt sustainability and debt consolidation; link between fiscal cycle and financial cycle; link between commodity prices and fiscal performance
Supervisor: Professor Eleanor Denny
Eleanor Denny's area of research interest is in Energy and Behavioural Economics, in particular she is involved in projects examining how consumers make investment decisions with an energy component, various behavioural aspects relating to energy consumption and investment, integration issues for renewables, and economic viability studies for new and emerging technologies. She is involved in a number of behavioural economics experiments including two randomised controlled trials in the field at the moment. She also has interests in the area of education economics.
Supervisor: Professor Andrea Guariso
Andrea Guariso joined the Department of Economics in September 2016. Andrea is an applied economist with prime interest in development and political economics. He would be very happy to supervise motivated students with research interests in these areas. Here are examples of broad topics of interest to him, with some inspiring readings that can help identify more specific research questions:
- Determinants of educational outcomes in developing countries and related challenges (Field Experiments in Education in Developing Countries, by Muralidharan, 2016; Improving School Education Outcomes in Developing Countries: Evidence, Knowledge Gaps, and Policy Implications, by Glewwe and Muralidharan, 2016)
- Determinants of health outcomes in developing countries and related challenges (Health Behavior in Developing Countries, by Dupas, 2011; Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries, by Dupas and Miguel, 2016)
- Origins and consequences of armed conflicts (Civil War, by Blattman and Miguel, 2010)
Supervisor: Professor Michael King
Michael King specialises in applied development economics and has research interests in banking and financial sector development. He is open to hearing from potential students who wish to pursue research degrees in the following areas.
- Access to financial services: Topics including the impact and dynamics of access to formal savings and credit products, microfinance, mobile banking, SME finance, financial literacy and other barriers to financial access.
- Microeconomics of development: Topics including political economy, governance, education and poverty.
- Banking and financial sector development: Topics including banking systems, competition, regulation and financial innovation
Supervisor: Professor Martina Kirchberger
Martina Kirchberger is a micro development economist with a focus on urban economics, labour economics and public economics. She would be delighted to supervise students in these areas.
Most of her research uses georeferenced individual-level data that she combines with environmental data. She uses these data to ask, for example, whether disamenities of urban areas can rationalize the striking gaps in living standards between urban and rural areas in low-income countries, as would be predicted by a simple spatial equilibrium model. In part of her recent work, she explores the use of big data to answer questions in development, such as the use of mobile phone data to understand the internal structure of cities or the effect of infrastructure investments. Over the past few years she has also developed a particular interest in the construction sector in developing countries. To answer questions in these areas, she employs a range of approaches ranging from natural experiments to structural models and descriptive work. She works closely with scientists from the other disciplines, such as geoscience.
Supervisor: Professor Joe Kopecky
Joe Kopecky is a macroeconomist with focus in the areas of population aging, entrepreneurship, and international macroeconomics. His research uses applied methods and quantitative macroeconomic modelling. He would be happy to supervise students with interests in the following areas:
- Demographics and macroeconomic trends: population aging; secular stagnation; life cycle savings and investment
- Entrepreneurship: life cycle risk taking; entrepreneurial policy; regional entrepreneurial networks
- Monetary regimes: Currency unions; fixed exchange rates
Supervisor: Professor Ronan Lyons
Ronan Lyons has two general areas of research focus: long-run housing markets and sustainable & behavioural real estate. He is happy to supervise students interested in the following areas:
- The construction of long-run series of housing prices, rents and related indicators, including credit conditions, tenure choice and housing supply, for cities around the world.
- The interaction between housing markets and the broader economy, including labour and capital markets, both at Irish and European level.
- Understanding expectations in relation to housing markets and how they are formed.
- The economics of energy efficiency, including its capitalization into housing values and calculation of the return on investment in green housing capital.
In addition, he conducts research on amenity valuation, i.e. what the housing market tells us about demand for non-market services, and its relationship with fiscal policy, and cliometrics generally, in particular in relation to factor prices (e.g. the skill premium and wage/rent ratio) and what that tells us about long-run economic development
Supervisor: Professor Nicola Mastrorocco
Nicola’s research lies at the intersection of political economy and applied microeconomics. He is specifically interested in distortions and inefficiencies that impede the correct functioning of democratic and economic systems. His research focus on both developed and developing countries.
Nicola has so far focused on the analysis of two important phenomena: organised crime and media bias. More precisely he tackled 2 fundamental questions such as what is the impact of organised crime on the provision of public goods and on the allocation of public resources? How strongly can media affect public opinions?
Answering these questions poses significant theoretical and empirical challenges. In particular, identifying casual mechanisms can be complicated. Nicola’s research consequently uses innovative micro-level data and advanced econometric techniques to draw policy relevant conclusions from observational data. These interests and methodological approaches inform his dissertation and continue to drive his ongoing research projects.
Nicola would happily supervise students who want to explore political economy and applied micro questions in both developed and developing countries.
Supervisor: Professor Tara Mitchell
Tara Mitchell specialises in applied microeconomics with a particular focus on questions relating to development economics. She is happy to supervise students in any area of development economics but is particularly interested in areas relating to agriculture and the economics of information.
Supervisor: Professor Gaia Narciso
Gaia Narciso is Associate Professor in Economics at Trinity College. Her areas of research are development economics, migration and political economy. Her research has been widely cited and featured in international media and she has successfully attracted international and national funding. She has extensive experience in survey design and implementation and has conducted randomized control trials in Ireland and abroad. In particular, Gaia conducted one of the first randomized control trials involving migrants, analysing the impact of information flows on migrant remittances. She is also one of the founding members of the Trinity Impact Evaluation Unit (TIME).
Gaia holds a BA in Economics from Bocconi University, an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a PhD in Economics from Bocconi University.
Supervisor: Professor Carol Newman
Carol Newman specialises in applied microeconomics and, in particular, its application to development economics.
She is happy to supervise students interested in studying the micro-foundations of economic development. Possible areas include household behaviour, the behaviour of micro, small and medium sized enterprises, rural market failures (agricultural markets, financial markets, land markets, etc), migration, industrialisation, industry agglomeration and trade.
Supervisor: Professor Francis O'Toole
Francis O’Toole’s research interests are in regulation, industrial organisation theory and public policy and he has supervised Ph.D. (and M.Litt.) students in areas such as bank competition, cartel immunity, income inequality, public goods, regulatory impact assessments and vertically restrictive agreements.
Supervisor: Professor Alejandra Ramos
Alejandra is an applied microeconomist with a focus on development. Her research interests are intimate partner violence and incentives in the public sector. Her research combines simple models with micro-data to simulate policies that make a more efficient use of the available resources.
Her work on intimate partner violence aims to understand the drivers of violence. She is particularly interested in modeling violence as a means through which a perpetrator solves spousal disagreement to his favour, but at the cost of destroying female labour productivity. She has conducted her research in Ecuador, Bangladesh, and Malawi. In the public sector, she is interested in the viability of voluntary participation programs to retain and promote talented workers. For this purpose, she has studied the case of school teachers in Chile.
Alejandra joined Trinity in 2017. She completed her undergraduate in economics in Colombia and pursued her graduate studies in Switzerland. She obtained a Ph.D. in Economics from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain. She also worked as a Research Fellow at the Research Department of the Inter-American Development Bank.
Supervisor: Professor Davide Romelli
Davide Romelli joined the Department of Economics in September 2016. His research interests include international finance and macroeconomics, central banking and financial supervision. He is happy to supervise students interested in the following areas:
- Sudden stops of capital flows.
- Political economy of central banking.
- Role of financial intermediaries and international capital flows in monetary policy transmission.
- Monetary policy and financial stability.
Supervisor: Professor Paul Scanlon
Paul Scanlon is happy to supervise students focusing on any area of macroeconomics, broadly construed. Two areas in particular interest him, as follows.
- There has been a lot of debate on the US/European differential in average hours per person (and worker), since Edward Prescott's (2002) study on the topic. However, there has been comparatively little work on trends within countries. In particular, does the average discrepancy arise from differentials across high income workers or low income workers, or is it uniform across all income levels? One paper that touches on these issues is 'Understanding Growth and Inequality Trends: The Role of Labour Supply in the USA and Germany” by Lars Osberg, but this is an area that is a fruitful topic for research.
- An empirical paper 'Does Inflation Targeting Matter?” by Lawrence Ball and Niamh Sheridan, examines the effects of inflation targeting on real and nominal variables. Basically, they find small effects, claiming that any positive effects of inflation targeting would have happened in any case. However, there is little reason to believe this to be the case – inflation is notoriously persistent. Given the relevance and importance of the topic, and more data since the initial study, a revision of this study seems timely and worthwhile.
Supervisor: Professor Marvin Suesse
Marvin Suesse is an applied economist with research interests in economic history, political economy, and international trade. He looks forward to supervising students in any of these fields. Areas of particular interest include:
- The influence of trade on domestic labour, product and credit markets
- The economic determinants of state capacity and the stability of states
- The links between financial and economic development
- The economic history of developing regions, especially in Eastern Europe and Africa
- The interactions between economic ideas and policies
Supervisor: Professor Michael Wycherley
Michael Wycherley joined the Department of Economics in September 2007. His research interests are in macroeconomics and economic growth, with particular emphasis on technological innovation and adoption, and he is happy to advise students in these areas.
Supervisor: Professor Selim Gulesci
Selim Gulesci is an applied microeconomist with research interests in development and labour economics. His research studies topics related to micro-entrepreneurship, education and gender. He has conducted field experiments in South Asia, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa, on topics such as agricultural tenancy contracts, microcredit, ultra-poor graduation programmes, access to childcare, soft skills training and gender-based violence.
Supervisor: Professor Nicola Fontana
Nicola Fontana is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Trinity College Dublin, and an associate at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. His research interests centre on Political Economy, Economic History, Labour Economics and Urban Economics. Nicola obtained his PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics in 2021. and holds a M.Sc. degree in Economics jointly awarded by Bocconi University and the Université Catholique de Louvain.
Current areas of research include:
- Urban/Political Economy: how cities and societies are changing, especially looking at the impact of peer-to-peer platforms
- Labour/History Economy: impact of immigration on sending countries, what are the long-term consequences?
- History/Political Economy: how political views are formed?
- Political Economy: what is the role of institutions in shaping competition?
Nicola would happily supervise students who want to explore political economy and applied micro questions in both modern and historical contexts.
Supervisor: Professor Sharyn O'Halloran
Sharyn O’Halloran is the SALI Professor of Political Economy. Her research specialises in the political economy of trade and financial policy, regulatory design and institutional analysis, the political representation of minorities and applications of artificial intelligence techniques to public policy. Professor O’Halloran is happy to work with students interested in the following research areas:
- Applications of NPL, ML and network analysis to explain and predict the regulatory design in financial markets, trade policy and environmental policy across OECD countries and overtime.
- Representation of minority groups in the electoral and legislative process and distributional outcomes.
- An economic historical analysis of Ireland’s forced eviction policies during the turn of the 19th century and housing segregation policies.
Supervisor: Professor Martina Zanella
Martina Zanella is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Trinity College Dublin. She is an applied microeconomist, with interests in labour, behavioural, political economy, and development economics. Her research explores causes and consequences of inequality in education, labour market, and political bodies, drawing insights from Psychology and Sociology to provide evidence-based suggestions for policy.
In her research, Martina exploits a combination of natural experiments, field experiments, and qualitative methods, to get rigorous identification of causal effects and provide insights on underlying mechanisms, while studying individuals in real-world settings.
Here are some research questions she is currently working on:
- Are policies that target minorities to foster inclusion enough to level the playing field? Does minority status affect performance?
- Why might we need quotas? Are quotas effective in increasing representation of minority groups in political bodies? Does this representation translate into influence in the decision-making process?
- How do social norms evolve over time?
Martina joined Trinity in 2022 and she obtained a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.