Angus Deaton, Nancy Cartwright, 09 November 2016

In recent years, the use of randomised controlled trials has spread from labour market and welfare programme evaluation to other areas of economics, and to other social sciences, perhaps most prominently in development and health economics. This column argues that some of the popularity of such trials rests on misunderstandings about what they are capable of accomplishing, and cautions against simple extrapolations from trials to other contexts.

Resul Cesur, Pınar Güneş, Erdal Tekin, Aydogan Ulker, 18 January 2016

The goal of universal health coverage has been pursued by countries in a number of ways, most notably through demand-side policies. In 2005, Turkey extended basic healthcare services to its entire population under a free-of-charge, centrally administered system. This column examines the impact of this supply-side programme on mortality and birth rates. Results show that the program was successful in lowering both mortality and birth rates across provinces, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. These findings provide compelling evidence in favour of providing accessible healthcare services to all citizens.

Anne Case, Angus Deaton, 18 July 2015

High suicide rates are often cited as evidence of social failure. Despite this, some countries and regions that do very well in terms of happiness have among the highest suicide rates. This column explores this paradox using global data on suicide and self-reported life satisfaction. Although the paradox is confirmed for Eastern European and wealthy countries, inconsistent patterns emerge when other demographic factors are taken into account. This might reflect the empirical difficulty of explaining suicide, but might also be indicative of the unreliability of self-reports of happiness.

Timothy Hatton, 05 August 2011

The last century has seen dramatic improvements in the health of Europeans. Young adult males are about 11 centimetres taller than their counterparts were a century ago. This column examines and explains the remarkable long-run trends in the average height of Europeans.

James Banks, Zoë Oldfield, James P Smith, 21 July 2011

How much of our health in adulthood and old age is determined by our childhood? Using decades of data from the US and England, this column shows that the US excess in disease is common throughout the age distribution of the population. Moreover, poor childhood health tends to worsen adult health more in the US.


This 3 day conference at St Catherine's College, Oxford University hosts speakers from Oxford, LSE, UCL, World Bank brings together many of the new and emerging themes in the economics of welfare. Theory tracks focus on social choice and welfare, and other related aspects of welfare economic theory and public economics. Empirical/applied tracks focus on policy areas including health, development, social policy, environment, education, poverty reduction, non-monetary measures of economic progress etc. Papers on applied econometrics or experimental work relevant to welfare economic theory and assumptions about human behaviour also welcome.