My PhD thesis measured the causes and consequences of reference points for household behaviour with the aim of contributing to the field literature on prospect theory. I aim to understand how reference points are formed in the real world and how they influence economic outcomes such as subjective well-being, consumption smoothing and intergenerational mobility. I develop techniques to tease out the effects of reference points in standard household data, an area which has not received much attention in the literature.
More generally I am interested in building on psychology literature which has formulated a number of models of decision-making with important differences to both standard and behavioural economics. Crucially in these models there is no internal value scale and agents make decisions through iterative binary comparisons, resulting in decisions which are highly context-dependent and which may exhibit discontinuities and intransitivites. As with early behavioural economics, such theories remain largely in the laboratory or posed as explanations for stylised facts, but have not yet been systematically applied to microdata. It is my opinion that such applications would be likely to yield interesting insights.
I am also a passionate advocate of economic pluralism and have long been a member of the student-led campaign Rethinking Economics. My book The Econocracy summarises our argument for pluralism and the importance of economic ideas in contemporary society.
Read Cahal's PhD thesis
Cahal Moran PhD Thesis 2020 submitted to University of Manchester