Portrait of Dr William Collier

Dr William Collier

Senior Lecturer in Economics (Education and Scholarship)
Deputy Dean (Education and Student Experience)

About

William Collier completed both his MA and PhD at the University of Kent and joined the School as a Lecturer in 2002. He was previously Research Fellow at the Centre for European, Regional and Transport Economics (CERTE).

He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

He is also an Associate of the Economics Network.

Research interests

William’s main research interests include work on unemployment, inter-industry wages, and employer-provided training and business performance. Other work includes economic analyses of migration, congestion pricing, betting markets and the economics of education.

William's RePEc page is http://econpapers.repec.org/RAS/pco148.htm

Teaching

Supervision

Past students

  • Dr God'stime Eigbiremolen, 'Essays on Economics of Education and Health Economics', completed 2020
  • Dr Daniel Roland: 'Essays on the Economics of Education and Health', completed 2018
  • Dr Alessandro Cusimano: 'The effectiveness of local development programs in Southern Italy. A global counterfactual analysis', completed 2017
  • Dr Mahreen Mahmud: 'Small Scale Finance and Behaviour of Recipients', completed 2015
  • Dr Teresa Randazzo: 'Essays on Different Forms of Migration', completed 2014
  • Dr Eirini Saloniki: 'Disability, Discrimination and Misreporting', completed 2014
  • Dr Paprakorn Winaisathaporn: 'Economic Analysis of Traffic Congestion', completed 2013
  • Dr Javier Valbuena: 'Empirical Essays on the Economics of Education', completed 2013
  • Dr Cyrus Farsian: 'Essays on the Cyclicality of Real Wages', completed 2012
  • Dr Stephen Allan: 'The labour supply and retirement of older workers', completed 2008

Professional

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Associate of The Economics Network

Administrative roles

University

  • Member of Student Experience Board (SEB)
  • Member of Information Services Board (ISB)
  • Member of Student Recruitment Board (SRB)
  • Member of Academic Standards and Quality Assurance Committee (ASQC)
  • Member of Assessment and Feedback Steering Group (AFSG)
  • Member of E-learning Strategy Group (ELSG)
  • Senior Academic Representative for KentVision Strategy Group (KVSG)

Faculty

  • Deputy Dean (Education and Student Experience)
    - Associate Dean (Education)
    - Faculty Director of Admissions, Employability and Student Experience
  • Chair of Faculty Education Committee
  • Chair of Faculty Recruitment and Outreach Committee
  • Chair of Faculty Student Experience and Employability Committee
  • Member of Dean’s Advisory Group
  • Member of Faculty Management Group

Publications

Article

  • Collier, W., Piracha, M. and Randazzo, T. (2017). Remittances and return migration. Review of Development Economics [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/rode.12335.
    This paper utilises survey data of return migrants to analyse the determinants of remittances sent while the migrants were abroad. We approach our research question from the perspective
    of three sending countries in the Maghreb, namely Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. We investigate the remittance behaviour using the migrants’ conditions before migration as well
    as during the migration experience. Using a two-part model, we show that the decision to remit and the amount remitted depend on a combination of different migrant characteristics
    and reasons for migration as well as the duration and form of migration. More importantly, we also consider if the remittance behaviour is dependent on the type of return: ‘decided’ or
    ‘compelled’. We show that the two groups have different incentives to remit which can help explain the link between type of migrants and their remittance behaviour.
  • Collier, W., Valbuena, J. and Zhu, Y. (2017). What determines post-compulsory academic studies? Evidence from the longitudinal survey of young people in England. Applied Economics Letters [Online]:1-4. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2017.1352069.
    We show that educational attainments at the end of the compulsory schooling stage are powerful predictors for post-compulsory educational choices in England. In particular, the single academic success indicator of achieving the Government’s gold standard in GCSE, is able to predict virtually all the observed incidences of post-compulsory studies for academic qualifications. Notwithstanding, Two Stage Least Squares estimation which exploits variations in school starting age induced by school entry rules suggests that the least-squares effect of achieving the gold standard in GCSEs on studying for academic qualifications is due to ability bias or reverse causation.
  • Lowe, B., d’Alessandro, S., Winzar, H., Laffey, D. and Collier, W. (2013). The Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in Marketing Classes: Key Drivers of Student Acceptance. Journal of Consumer Behaviour [Online] 12:412-422. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cb.1444.
    With the proliferation in Web 2.0 technologies, many marketing educators are experimenting with new teaching and learning tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Second Life). The benefits of such technologies are often touted by scholars, and indeed, there is a good deal of evidence to support such a view. However, increasingly, educators are highlighting some of the limitations of technology in the learning environment. To draw parallels with other new product research in marketing, the adoption of new learning technologies is often not so widespread. The literature exhibits inconsistency about the willingness of students to adopt new technology in a learning environment, but no systematic research into the factors that affect technology acceptance yet exists. This research fills a gap in the literature by applying an augmented Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to understand students' future intentions to adopt Twitter, a Web 2.0 technology shown to offer students a variety of benefits. By using partial least squares, the research shows that the main proximal driver of student adoption of Twitter is a utilitarian attitude. Students need to be convinced about ‘what's in it for me’, rather than persuaded about the technology's hedonic benefits. Other affective variables such as an individual's affinity with computers and risk tolerance were also found to be important drivers of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness, the TAM's key antecedents.
  • Collier, W., Green, F., Young-Bae, K. and Peirson, J. (2011). Education, Training and Economic Performance: Evidence from Establishment Survival Data. Journal of Labor Research [Online] 32:336-361. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12122-011-9116-7.
    We consider the links between training, the quality of labor and establishment performance, using an indicator of firm performance, commercial survival. We place our evidence in the framework of a model in which managers have varying beliefs about the efficacy of education and training, leading to potential variation in their provision. We find that training and education yield significant positive effects on firm performance. Moreover, education and training interact positively in their effect on survival.
  • Collier, W., Green, F. and Peirson, J. (2005). Training and establishment survival. Scottish Journal of Political Economy 52:710-735.
    Training decisions are affected by beliefs about the returns to training, surrounding which firms face considerable uncertainty. We model the consequent association between training, profitability and establishment survival. We propose a plausible definition of optimism about training effectiveness, and show that more optimistic firms train more. We then present estimates of the relationship between training and the likelihood of medium-term commercial survival. We find that increased training of non-manual workers in large establishments is associated with a greater chance of survival; however, disaggregation reveals that the association differs across occupational groups. In smaller establishments, increased training for Craft and Technical workers is associated with better chances of survival, while for Professional workers the opposite effect is found.
  • Collier, W. (2005). The Impact of Demographic and Individual Heterogeneity on Unemployment Duration: A Regional Study. Applied Economics 37:133-153.
    This paper investigates the impact of individual heterogeneity and regional influences on unemployment duration utilizing cross-section microeconomic data drawn from a representative random survey of individual job seekers for the English county of Kent. These individual-level data are unique in that they provide information concerning the personal characteristics of job seekers, alongside direct observations of both their reservation wages and job search behaviour. Such data are rare and, to the authors' knowledge, have never before been utilized in a regional context. Thus, the paper contributes to the empirical literature by analysing the extent to which individual heterogeneity and intra-regional variation in labour market opportunities impact upon the observed distribution of unemployment duration(s). In particular, the paper analyses the extent to which the duration of unemployment is determined by individual choice. This is an important issue for the formation and evaluation of policy. These results provide new insights into the long-term efficacy of current microeconomic supply-side initiatives such as ‘The New Deal’ and related welfare to work policies. They also advocate a more active role for macroeconomic demand-led management and provide support for a more integrated strategy for policy implementation at the urban and regional level.
  • Collier, W., Carruth, A. and Dickerson, A. (2004). Inter-industry Wage Differences and Individual Heterogeneity. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics [Online] 66:811-846. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0084.2004.103_1.x.
    Two well-established findings are apparent in the analyses of individual wage determination: cross-section wage equations can account for less than half of the variance in earnings and there are large and persistent inter-industry wage differentials. We explore these two empirical regularities using longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). We show that around 90% of the variation in earnings can be explained by observed and unobserved individual characteristics. However, small – but statistically significant – industry wage premia do remain, and there is also a role for a rich set of job and workplace controls.

Book section

  • Collier, W. and Peirson, J. (2005). The Presence of Favourites and Biases in Bookmakers’ Odds. In: Vaughan-Williams, L. ed. Information Efficiency in Financial and Betting Markets. UK: Cambridge University Press. Available at: http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521816033.

Conference or workshop item

  • Collier, W. and Vickerman, R. (2002). Cross-border Activity in the Kent - Nord-Pas de Calais - Belgium Euroregion: Some Comparative Evidence on the Location and Recruitment Decisions of Internationally Mobile Firms. In: 42nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association,. Canterburt, Kent: University of Kent. Available at: http://www-sre.wu-wien.ac.at/ersa/ersaconfs/ersa02/cd-rom/papers/082.pdf.
    Border regions and the implications for their development have become a subject of considerable interest in the ongoing process of European integration. The removal of national barriers and the development of greater economic and political transborder co-operation has led to a reconsideration of spatial identity and the definition of regional economies or markets. Much of the interest has focussed on the implications for labour mobility, especially within the context of the perceived need for greater mobility to provide the necessary adjustment process within the Eurozone. However, not only has international labour migration remained quite low within the EU, so has the level of cross-border commuting. There has, however, been considerable interest in the growth of cross-border capital flows.
    In this paper we explore the nature of this cross-border movement of firms in the context of the Kent – Nord-Pas de Calais – Belgium Euroregion. This transnational region is a large region of over 15 million people, close to a number of national borders. The original focus was the Transmanche region between Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais, established in relation to the construction of the Channel Tunnel in 1987 in order to identify common problems, minimise the competition for the same resources between the regions and emphasise complementarity in their economic structures. The region was later extended to include the three Belgian regions in 1991 when it was renamed the Euroregion, and there have been suggestions that it should extend even more widely to include most or all of the Central Capitals Region of the EU.
    This paper brings together some findings from a survey of French firms which have located in Kent (Collier and Vickerman, 2001 e) and a parallel survey of Belgian firms which have located in the Dunkerque employment area of Nord-Pas de Calais (Boutillier et al, 2001). In this analysis we seek to discover whether the same general set of principles govern cross-border movements, or whether there are individual circumstances in each region to which specific types of firm respond.
    Despite similarities, it is difficult to conclude that there is a consistent pattern of cross-border investment activity. As with all investment activity, cross-border investment seeks to exploit differentials which exist and opportunities which arise; these are different in different cases. Belgian activity in the Dunkerque region is responding to clear advantages which are offered through location in an area where incentives are strong and where there are specific skills which can be used to advantage. French investment in Kent seems to be responding to wider national opportunities available in the UK, but using a location which has certain advantages of proximity. It would seem unwise to rely on either of these factors as being likely to persist indefinitely. By definition firms which have been willing to move in will also find it relatively easy to move on to other locations, possibly to other regions within the host country. In this sense border regions continue to act as staging posts for mobile factors and thus have to recognise the need for continuing activity to attract new firms and retain existing ones.

Monograph

  • Collier, W., Piracha, M. and Randozza, T. (2011). Remittances and Return Migration. Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit Institute for the Study of Labor. Available at: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6091.pdf.
    This paper utilises survey data of return migrants to analyse the determinants of remittances sent while the migrants were abroad. We approach our research question from the perspective of three sending countries in the Maghreb, namely Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. We investigate the remittance behaviour using the migrants’ conditions before migration as well as during the migration experience. Using a two-part model, we show that the decision to remit and the amount remitted depend on a combination of different migrant characteristics as well as the duration and form of migration. We also consider if the remittance behaviour is dependent on the type of return: decided or compelled. We show that those who decided to return have a higher probability to remit for investment purposes and remit more as the time spent abroad increases.
  • Collier, W., Zhu, Y. and Valbuena, J. (2011). What Determines Post-Compulsory Educational Choice? Evidence from the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England. University of Kent. Available at: ftp://ftp.ukc.ac.uk/pub/ejr/RePEc/ukc/ukcedp/1112.pdf.
    Using a unique dataset which is rich in both family background and attainment in education, we find that educational attainments at the end of the compulsory schooling stage are powerful predictors for post-compulsory educational choices in England. In particular, the single academic success indicator of achieving the Government’s gold standard in GCSE, is able to explain around 30% of the variation in the proportion of young people studying for academic qualifications. Instrumental-variables estimation which exploits variations in birth weight and school starting age suggest that over half of the least-squares effect of achieving the gold standard in GCSEs on studying for academic qualifications is due to individual heterogeneity (ability bias) or simultaneity bias (reverse causation). Nonetheless, conditional on the young person working towards a higher-level qualification, we find strong evidence of a highly significant causal effect of achieving the gold standard when choosing between the academic or vocational pathway.
  • Collier, W. (2000). The UK Wage Curve: New Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey. University of Kent. Available at: ftp://ftp.ukc.ac.uk/pub/ejr/RePEc/ukc/ukcedp/0010.pdf.
    This paper investigates the UK wage curve using longitudinal micro data drawn from the first eight waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). We estimate a fixed-effects model that controls for observed and unobserved individual-specific heterogeneity. Our results suggest that there is evidence of a negative relationship in wage-unemployment space. The estimated unemployment elasticity of pay for UK males is approximately ?0.14 and this elasticity is robust to a number of alternative specifications. There is no evidence of a significant wage curve for women. These findings are consistent with panel studies reported for other countries. They contrast with previous studies for the UK, however, in that they reject the inclusion of higher order polynomial terms for unemployment. The main findings of the paper, therefore, are that the wage-unemployment relationship is robust but not as non-linear as has been previously thought.

Research report (external)

  • Collier, W., Green, F. and Kim, Y. (2007). Training and Establishment Survival. [Online]. Skills for Business. Available at: http://www.ukces.org.uk/pdf/080509%20R%20Research%20Report%2020%20web.pdf.
    Training decisions are affected by beliefs about the returns to training, surrounding which firms face considerable uncertainty. We model the consequent association between training, profitability and establishment survival. We propose a plausible definition of optimism about training effectiveness, and show that more optimistic firms train more. We then present estimates of the relationship between training and the likelihood of medium-term commercial survival. We find that increased training of non-manual workers in large establishments is associated with a greater chance of survival; however, disaggregation reveals that the association differs across occupational groups. In smaller establishments, increased training for Craft and Technical workers is associated with better chances of survival, while for Professional workers the opposite effect is found.

Thesis

  • Cusimano, A. (2017). The Effectiveness of Local Development Programs in Southern Italy. A Global Counterfactual Analysis.
    The objective of the thesis is to realize an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of Territorial Integrated Projects. The policy was designed to implement the 2000-2006 EU Regional Operational Plans and was based upon the combination and integration of different interventions concerning infrastructures, aid schemes and other networking and system actions. Our objective is to realize a global analysis that aims at determining the policy effectiveness both at a territorial and at a firm level with the respect to Sicily. After an introductory chapter in which we present the characteristics of the policy under investigation, we devote the second chapter to the discussion of the methodological techniques mostly used in literature including some of the forefront methods recently developed in the Econometrics of program evaluation. In chapter 3 we realize an empirical analysis at a firm level on the effectiveness of the aid schemes provided by the program. Through the use of the Matching difference in differences methodology we provide evidence of the policy effectiveness with respect to employment and sales while a weak or null effect is found with respect to other profitability and productivity measures. In chapter 4 we investigate whether the better performance of treated firms depends on the success of the policy or is influenced by the selection process which has favoured the firms being ex-ante in better conditions (basically picking the winners). The study is carried out by considering a subsample of firms, operating in Sicily, which in a first stage of the program had been selected as beneficiaries of the subsidies provided by TIPs, but that at a second stage have not been financed. We implement an empirical analysis in which we aim at identifying the effect of the selection process on the economic performance of firms. We find evidence of a selection bias effect and we propose different interpretations of this phenomenon. In chapter 5 we realize an empirical evaluation on the effectiveness of the policy at a territorial level by looking at the municipalities that were selected as beneficiaries of the infrastructural interventions provided by the program. The focus is in a first stage of the analysis on the effectiveness of the whole set of infrastructural interventions. In a second stage, considering that many interventions intended to increase the touristic attractiveness of the areas involved, we look at the effects of the program on specific outcome measures directly related to the touristic sector. We find a weak effect of the touristic interventions while the policy looks strongly effective when the analysis is extended to the whole set of infrastructural interventions. In addition we estimate a dose-response function that aims to link the amount of public aids received by the involved municipalities with their economic performance. We find an inverse U-shaped dose-response function that highlights how, in terms of financial dimension, the intermediate projects seem to be the most appropriate. To the best of our knowledge this work constitutes the first attempt of a quantitative ex-post evaluation of the success of TIPs. In addition this program gives us the possibility of referring to different units of analysis. Since literature has showed that contrasting results can be obtained by analyzing the effects of a program at different levels, our contribution at this extent looks quite useful. Finally we aim to include our work within the most recent literature that tries to go over the binary division between treated and control units through the estimation of a dose-response function that takes into account the different amounts of public funds received by the beneficiaries.
  • Mahmud, M. (2015). Essays on Small Scale Finance and Recipient Behaviour.
    These essays consider various aspects of the access to finance to micro-entrepreneurs who remain outside the purview of the banking sector primarily due to lack of collateral. An innovative way to provide access to finance - microfinance - originated from Bangladesh and has since then spread to all over the world. Evidence points to micro-enterprises earning returns well above market interest rate. It is therefore puzzling that hardly any study has found a significant impact on various development indicators for households receiving a microcredit loan. This coupled with high indebtedness and defaults by borrowers resulting in the collapse of several microfinance organizations across the world has raised questions about the fundamentals of the microcredit model and led to a rethinking of microfinance at large. In line with this, we look at an alternative model of microcredit with zero interest rate and voluntary contributions being used by Akhuwat, a microfinance organization in Pakistan. Chapter 2 has details about this organization and chapter 3 about a telephone survey of the borrowers of the organization that was conducted to collect information in addition to that in the organization database.

    In chapter 4, the analysis of monthly data on voluntary contributions provide evidence that the organization is rewarding borrowers for their contributions by giving them repeat loans and that borrowers are strategically timing these voluntary contributions through their loan cycles to maximize impact. In the case of joint liability loans, borrowers in poorly performing groups make on average higher voluntary contributions, and voluntary contributions in a previous loan cycle correlate with borrower discipline in a subsequent loan cycle. Thus, voluntary contributions can signal borrower quality, and joint liability borrowers appear to be using them to signal their quality independently of their group.
    Microcredit loans were traditionally extended to groups of people who were held jointly liable for the payments of each other. However, there is no clear evidence that joint liability does lead to better borrower performance and recent years have seen a shift towards individual liability lending. In Chapter 5, utilizing the exogenous shift from individual to joint liability lending by a microfinance organization in Pakistan, we find evidence of significant improvement in borrower discipline. We also use the exogenous variation in number of months borrowers had till the expiry of their individual liability loans at the time of the shift to study the kind of groups they formed. Using this time that borrowers had as an instrument, we find that they are more likely to form groups with people they knew from before and met weekly. The time that borrower had to form group also correlated positively with borrower discipline.

    Chapter 6 investigates the impact on micro-entrepreneur households of unconditional transfers in a Randomized Control Trial setting. In a situation of no commitment, it looks at the second order effects on the household of an exogenous shock to the enterprise. Even with no repayment for principal or additional interest charge, there is no significant impact on the consumption and education expenditures of these households. We focus on the demographic and labour supply response and find that households of male and female owned enterprises adjust differently. Households of male run enterprises experienced a rise in fertility while those of women saw a decline in the number of other women working in the household and thereby in overall hours worked in the household. For male run enterprise households, there appears to be no substitution away from work towards leisure as the household feels richer. We did not find evidence that the rise in fertility is a pure income effect and so it appears to be associated with different choices made by the two genders when in charge of resources.
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