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Professor  Margaret Stevens

Professor Margaret Stevens

Senior Research Fellow in Economics

Academic Profile
I first came to Oxford in the 1970s, to study mathematics at St. Hugh's College. After completing an M.Sc. in mathematics, I worked as a statistician, and later as a secondary school teacher, before returning to Oxford in 1989 to study economics at Nuffield College. I finished my doctorate in 1993, and have been involved in teaching and research in Oxford since then. As well as the "core" subjects of microeconomics and macroeconomics, I teach labour economics, public economics and economic theory. I came to Lincoln as Fellow and Tutor in Economics in January 2001.

Research Interests
My research interests are mainly in labour economics.  Reform of the labour market has been high on the political agenda in recent years: the aim has been to make it more "flexible" and hence to reduce unemployment and raise productivity. But the way labour markets work - how wages and salaries are determined, and why jobs are created and destroyed - are still not well understood by economists or politicians. I try to answer these questions by studying employment contracts: what types of contracts are used, and how they affect the decisions of employers and employees.
The main application of this work has been to the economics of vocational training, which is itself an important political issue. In particular, I have studied the effects of government policies on training, which differ widely between countries: in Germany, for example, the apprenticeship system flourishes; in France employers have to pay for training; Britain has used a variety of schemes to subsidise training. The success of each type of policy depends on the way the labour market works.

I am also interested in government policies towards education and health, particularly in the recent reforms that have introduced competition into the provision of public services, and allowed private as well as public providers. A current research project examines the rationale for encouraging competition, and investigates how the boundary between the private and public sectors should be determined.

Selected Publications

"Labour Contracts and Efficiency in On-the-Job Training", Economic Journal, 1994.
"A Theoretical Model of On-the-Job Training with Imperfect Competition", Oxford Economic Papers, 1994.
"Human Capital Theory and UK Vocational Training Policy", Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 1999.
"Should Firms be Required to Pay for Vocational Training?", Economic Journal, 2001.
"Earnings Functions, Specific Human Capital and Job matching: Tenure Bias is Negative", Journal of Labor Economics, 2003.
(with Paul Grout) "The Assessment: Financing and Managing Public Services", Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 2003.
"Wage-Tenure Contracts in a Frictional Labour Market: Firms' Strategies for Recruitment and Retention", Review of Economic Studies, 2004.
(with Katy Graddy) "The Impact of School Resources on Student Performance: A Study of Private Schools in the United Kingdom" Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2005. 

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