From April 2014 I will be working on a
project on Economics, Equity and Employment. This new programme of research is concerned with the links between growth, employment, living standards and working life prospects for the middle and below group of the income and wealth distribution. It will seek to understand why our current growth models are failing and what may be required for better, fairer growth.
My part of the research programme will concentrate on the interactions between education, inequality and social mobility.
projects were funded by SKOPE's third ESRC research programme (2008-2013).
Polarisation and mobility in the UK
project looks at the implications
of a polarising labour market for occupational and wage mobility and skills policy. The
main research questions of this project are:
does the polarisation hypothesis (Goos and Manning, 2007) mean for wage distributions and
to the mobility of workers in routine occupations
as these jobs have declined?
Does a declining middle reduce
progression opportunities for low-wage workers?
Why have different European countries experienced
occupational polarization to varying degrees?
Holmes, C, (2013) Are UK earnings distributions
polarising?, paper presented at ISER workshop. Slides
Holmes, C, and Mayhew, K, (2014), 'The winners and
losers in the hourglass labour market', in Archer, L, Mann, A, and
Stanley, J (eds.), ‘Understanding Employer Engagement in Education:
theories and evidence’, London:
Holmes, C, (2011), 'The route out of the
routine: where do the displaced routine workers
go?', SKOPE Research Paper No. 100.
Labour market segmentation
are clear parallels between polarisation and the older literature
on segmented labour markets. This has prompted an evaluation of
the typologies of work organisation commonly discussed in
this literature. The different ways that firms or occupations organise
work have implications for career mobility. We hope to expand
on existing typologies and incorporate new forms of
work organisation into our analysis of mobility
Higher education in
We look at the implications of the recession for
higher education. On one hand, higher education is seen by policymakers as
an engine for growth. On the other hand, austerity measures have
placed limits on the size of the sector. This leads to
two main questions:
be driven by the rate of return and the concept of
a graduate premium?
there currently inefficiencies in the production of
undergraduate degrees and the role of HE in facilitating entry into
the labour market?
Holmes, C, (2013), 'Has the expansion of
higher education led to greater economic growth?', National Institute
Economic Review, 224(1) pp. R29-47.
Ten big questions for higher education, SKOPE
Issues Paper 31. Link
UK higher education in recession, 2011, SKOPE
Issues Paper 24. Link
Developing vocational excellence: learning environments within
work environments, forthcoming (with
- Are degrees worth higher fees? Perceptions of
potential undergraduates on the financial benefits of entering higher
education, forthcoming, SKOPE research paper (with
and Helen Carasso
). A draft Issues paper based on
this research is available
- Attractiveness in European IVET:
what really matters?, 2012, report for Cedefop (with
RAND Europe). The report was ultimately adapted into a Cedefop
My D.Phil thesis is entitled 'Myopia,
retirement planning and commitment mechanisms' (Supervisor:
Terry O'Shaughnessy). This comprised a number of themes.
Myopia and retirement
planning: this chapter develops a model of saving and
retirement with myopic individuals. It emphasises the connection between
the two decisions in plans and realised outcomes, especially if a saving
commitment mechanism is introduced.
The effect of myopia
and pension payouts of the retirement decision: this
chapter tests the theory developed in the first chapter using a
laboratory experiment. This experiment asked participants to return to
the lab on repeated occasions (simulating 'work') in exchange for a
small wage and a growing saving pot (received when they participant did
not return, or 'retired'). The experiment finds impulsive discounting is
a strong predictor of the difference between planned and actual
retirement. In contrast to existing approaches, it does not find that
lump-sum payments delay retirement.
Rising wage profiles
and saving commitment: rising wage profiles may act as
saving commitment mechanisms. This paper develops a theory of myopic
individuals and models demand for such wage profiles. It contrast this
model with the existing literature which emphasises a preference for
rising consumption - the demand for rising wages is found in the absence
of such preferences.