Applied Economics Research Group (AERG)

AERG is a group of applied economics researchers, whose research aims at contributing to the understanding of a variety of economic issues key to the functioning of economies, with an emphasis on possible policy interventions to improve economic outcomes. Behind the group's research is the objective to develop theoretical insights and apply state-of-the-art empirical techniques to analyse substantive applied economic issues with a focus to analyse policy and generate impact.

About AERG

Building upon the former Applied Econometrics Research Group, the new AERG now also incorporates applied theory expertise on different research topics to its previous focus on applied analysis with a variety of econometric tools.

AERG's research covers wide research areas within and across the Department of Economics' four specialisation themes: from economic growth and development, to industrial, labour and international economics, banking and financial management, political economy, as well as environment and climate change research and aspects of behavioural and financial economics.

AERG research is also in some cases cross-disciplinary in collaboration with other researchers from the Centre for Research on Communities, Identity and Difference (CResCID) and the Small Business Research Centre (SBRC). AERG is committed to pluralism in economic research and provides a collaborative and inclusive research environment for its members to engage in intellectual debate and in exchange of ideas.

AERG applies its econometric expertise on panel, time-series and cross-sectional methods to wide ranging areas of research on business and social challenges that impact society as well as its economic modelling expertise on labour economics, behavioural finance and political economy, through published research, consultancy and external engagement. The group has produced outputs published in international journals such as Labour Economics, Economic Journal, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics, International Review of Financial Analysis, Land Economics, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, World Development or the Journal of the European Economic Association. AERG members also regularly contribute to the Department of Economics' long-standing Economics Discussion Paper Series. AERG seeks to pass on its expertise to students through the supervision of PGR (PhD, MPhil, masters by research) students.

AERG members

AERG is co-led by Dr Homagni Choudhury and Professor Javier Ortega. It comprises academic staff from the Department of Economics working collaboratively with colleagues in other research groups and departments in Kingston University, as well as with external partners and international stakeholders.

Dr Homagni Choudhury

Dr Homagni Choudhury is an associate professor and Head of Economics. His primary research interests lie in the areas of development economics and applied economics with particular interests on aspects of international trade, labour markets, productivity, and industrial and regional economics. He has experience of working on applied development issues concerning the Indian economy, especially on international trade and labour markets and regional income convergence. He was associated with the World Bank's 'Jobs and Development' initiative at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), New Delhi, from 2014 to 2016. He is currently leading three GCRF-funded projects at Kingston: one on international trade and labour market outcomes in Indian manufacturing and two inter-disciplinary projects examining innovation, resilience and entrepreneurship amongst SMEs in India and Somalia respectively.

Dr Shaikh Eskander

Dr Shaikh Eskander is a senior lecturer in economics. He is an applied microeconomist with primary research focus in environmental, natural resource and development economics. He is currently involved in several projects on women entrepreneurship under climate risk (with co-authors in LSE, funded by IDRC), climate finance (with World Bank and UNDP Bangladesh), agriculture and livestock (with FAO), climate change laws and environment policy (with co-authors in Oxford and LSE) and energy economics and policy.

Shaikh has published widely on adaptation in the face of climate and environmental changes and his research has been featured at the American Economic Association in 2018. He won the Kingston University's Faculty of Business and Social Sciences best paper award for his innovative paper on long-term impacts of environmental disasters in Bangladesh. He has contributed to several external academic events including a panel discussion organised by the UNDP in 2020 and an academic blog for the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

Shaikh is a visiting Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute and Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the LSE, a Research Associate at the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at the Australian National University, and a Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Earth & Environment at the Florida International University.

Dr Andrea Ingianni

Dr Andrea Ingianni is a senior lecturer in economics. His research interests range from economic growth, development and integration to application of econometric methods to a wide range of policy questions. His past work has focused on the empirical investigation of economic convergence, the role of institutions and international trade in transition countries.

Andrea's current work explores the application of unsupervised learning algorithms in connection with the theory of stochastic processes. He has also extended his research interests to asymptotic sampling and Bayesian approaches to causal inference and estimation. He uses his expertise on quantitative methods and applied econometric techniques to collaborate with colleagues both within AERG and outside AERG – he is currently involved in applying his clustering methods to studying regional income convergence in India (with Dr Homagni Choudhury) and has recently started working as a co-investigator on a wealth chain project funded by the Trust for London and led by Dr Rex McKenzie from the Political Economy Research Group (PERG). Andrea is also the editor of the Economics Discussion Paper Series at the department of economics.

Professor Javier Ortega

Professor Javier Ortega is a professor of economics and the Associate Dean for Research of the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences. His main areas of research are labour economics and political economy, with additional interests in history and political science. He has published research on topics such as the impact of immigration on natives' wage, the assimilation of immigrants in multilingual countries, the organization of educational systems in multilingual countries, schooling and nation-building, or political correctness.

Javier is also currently a visiting senior fellow to the Department of Government at the London School of Economics. He has received grants from funders such as the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France), evaluated research grants for several national research agencies, as well as papers for around thirty different journals. He has written on his research for El País (Spain) and other newspapers, and his research has featured in the French political debate on immigration, in OECD reports and in newspapers such as Le Monde.

Dr Jalal Siddiki

Dr Jalal Siddiki is a senior lecturer in economics. His research interests include finance, trade, unofficial exchange rates, fiscal policy and growth. He is currently leading a CResCID-funded project examining aspects of SME performance, resilience and adaptability in the face of Covid-19, which involves the Royal Borough of Kingston Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Enterprise Education at Kingston University. He is also involved in developing his ongoing work on liquidity and profitability of UK electricity firms and collaborative work on fiscal policy and sustainability of budget deficit and government debt with colleagues in AERG and Nigeria.

Dr Willem Spanjers

Dr Willem Spanjers is a senior lecturer in economics. Willem's research specialisation is in behavioural decision models, including models of ambiguity, in financial economics, and in re-thinking the social market economy. Amongst others, Willem has held positions at Tilburg University, at the Institute of Mathematical Economics at the University of Bielefeld, and at the University of Birmingham. He was acting full professor at the University of Saarland, Saarbrücken, at Chemnitz University of Technology, and more recently at the Albert Ludwig's University of Freiburg, where he served as Interim Director of the Institute for Economic Evolution. At Kingston University he has served as Deputy Head of School and Acting Head of School of Economics in the past.

Willem has published papers in journals such as The Economic Journal and serves as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Corporate Finance Research (Higher School of Economics, Moscow). He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Research Centre for Economic Analysis. In the political sphere, Willem is a member of advisory committees in Germany at state level and (and in the past at the federal level) linked to the CDU and its Economic and Entrepreneurial Society, MIT.

Dr Chris Stewart

Dr Chris Stewart is a senior lecturer in economics. He is an applied econometrician and over the years has applied time-series, cross-section, and panel methods to a wide range of economic and policy questions that impact businesses and society. Chris has published over 40 peer reviewed articles in the areas of bank competitiveness, bank efficiency, bank ratings, consumer behaviour, exchange rates, FDI determinants, firm performance, fund manager performance, herding among sovereign rating agencies, identity, the impact of inequality on house prices, SME shares, spurious correlation, unemployment hysteresis, and wage inflation.

Chris's current work involves modelling the relationship between student performance and engagement and generalising the ARDL bounds test to allow for an I(0) dependent variable. Chris has served as an assessor of REF outputs in Kingston University's internal mock REF exercises during the REF2020/21 cycle.

Current and past PGR students

Nora Alkathiry

Supervisory team: Willem Spanjers, Shaikh Eskander, Jalal Siddiki.

Ladi R Bala

Supervisory team: Jalal Siddiki and Christina Wolf.

Royyan Ramdhani Djayusman

Supervisory team: Willem Spanjers, Shaikh Eskander, Jalal Siddiki

Royyan is pursuing a PhD on "Muslims' Giving Behaviour and Efficient Partnership in Religious Contribution: Evidence from Indonesia". His study aims at characterising observed giving behaviour and understanding it as resulting from a decision-making process under ambiguity, as well as trying to identify an optimal social partnership model in religious contributions. In doing so, this project engages with prospect theory, as well as ambiguity and team production theories. Additionally, by modelling giving behaviour as depending on group size, group identity, sense of community, social capital, biased information, time preference, altruism, and religiosity, this study is expected to contribute to the behavioural economics debate in the context of the Indonesian Muslim society.

Zoltan Kopacsi

Supervisory team: Homagni Choudhury, Andrea Ingianni

Zoltan is pursuing a PhD in Economics and part of AERG at Kingston University. His research examines regional income convergence issues pertaining to India using time-series and panel methods. He received an MSc International Finance with Banking in 2015 and BSc Economics with Politics in 2014 from Aberystwyth University. He was the recipient of the Barry N Davies Prize in Economic Statistics in 2014 at Aberystwyth University. He worked as a research assistant in the GCRF funded project "The impact of trade reforms on labour market outcomes: A study of India's formal manufacturing" in 2020.

Past PGR students

  • Babagana Mala Musti completed his PhD in 2018 under the supervision of Dr Jalal Siddiki and Dr Andrea Ingianni, for a thesis titled ‘Asymmetric and nonlinear exchange rate pass-through to consumer price in Nigeria: 1986-2013'. Babagana is currently working as a Senior Lecturer at Yobe State University, Damaturu, Nigeria.
  • Qi Mao
  • Vincent Olaoluwa Ajayi
  • Mutawakil Zankawah

Past and ongoing funded projects

UK SME's response to a downturn in market conditions

This project is funded by a CResCID Research Grant (£2,800). In the backdrop of the current economic downturn faced by the UK SMEs due to the twin problems of Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, this project seeks to understand the experiences of SMEs in the UK in the light of recent developments and generate primary benefits through analysis and recommendations with regards to strategic behaviour and coping mechanisms of UK SMEs. To achieve this, the project is undertaking a pilot study of the UK food and beverage sector in Kingston and surrounding areas. The project is led by Dr Jalal Siddiki as the PI and involves Dr Homagni Choudhury as a co-I at AERG, with several external partners including the department of enterprise education, Kingston University, and the Royal Borough of Kingston Chamber of Commerce.

Somali business responses to a downturn in market conditions

This project, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (£14,300), between Kingston University (KU) and the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS) investigates the multi-disciplinary challenges facing Somali Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, focusing generally on business strategy in an economic downturn and particularly on coping mechanisms and innovative behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic. The project builds capacity through the cooperation of KU and the CBS to generate pathways to impact focusing on three user-groups: business-associations, entrepreneurs and policymakers in Somalia. The project is led by Dr Homagni Choudhury at AERG and Dr Abdilahi Ali, Executive Director at the Central Bank of Somalia and involves a number of secondary partners.

Environmental and social risk

This project was funded by the WWF, Switzerland (£29,417) and completed under the leadership of former staff, Dr Daniil Kiose. The project analysed the link between environmental and social risk (ESR) factors and the risk-return profile of infrastructure bonds, providing support for the hypothesis that credit standing of infrastructure bonds is associated with ESR factors.

Indian MSMEs' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis

This two-year project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (£27,670). The project is concerned with the adaptability and resilience of businesses (particularly MSMEs) in how business managers respond to a deterioration of their market conditions due to external shocks. The project is led by Dr Homagni Choudhury at AERG with external partner, REVA University, Bangalore (India). Further details on the project are available here.

The impact of trade reforms on labour market outcomes: A study of India's formal manufacturing

It is widely believed that international trade as a force of globalisation results in the erosion of labour market institutions (LMIs) resulting in worsening of labour market outcomes. This project explores this proposition in the context of India by researching the trade-labour market linkages and the effects of trade and LMIs on labour market outcomes. This is topical as India has seen a substantial increase in contract labour employment in formal manufacturing in conjunction with industrial deregulation, and it is therefore important to understand the role of trade and LMIs in labour market outcomes to inform the future direction of trade and labour market policy in India. The project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (£9,375), and is led by Dr Homagni Choudhury at AERG, with external collaborator, Dr Deb Kusum Das (University of Delhi and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, New Delhi, India).

Housing Crisis: Wealth chains, empty homes, and levels of deprivation in the Greater London Area

Contrary to the common perception, there is oversupply of houses in the UK and the Greater London area (GLA). In addition to house price inflation, housing crisis can partly be blamed to empty homes with absent/offshore homeowners. This project sets out to provide a greater understanding of the relationship between offshore real estate investment, empty homes, and levels of deprivation in the GLA. Funded by the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences' Research Advancement Fund, Kingston University (£3000), this project is co-led by Dr Rex McKenzie at PERG and Dr Shaikh Eskander at AERG, with Dr Homagni Choudhury as a collaborator at AERG.

Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emission: How do UK universities measure up?

This project investigates the progress of the UK universities in greening their energy sources in line with the UK's goal of becoming a net-zero economy by 2050. Using the HESA estate management data for 116 universities over 2012–13 to 2018–19, the project employs a Log Mean Divisa Index decomposition method within an extended Kaya identity framework to decouple the changes in total carbon emissions from a range of variables, with a special focus on the impact of different energy sources on energy use and carbon efficiency measures. The project is funded by the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences' Research Funding Scheme and is led by Dr Shaikh Eskander.

Contact us

For more information on AERG, please contact Dr Homagni Choudhury.

Faculty of Business and Social Sciences