Work and Well-being:


The work and well-being programme focuses on economic and social factors that affect the health and productivity of the population. The programme builds on established Scottish research strengths in the fields of health and labour economics. Its purpose is to develop and expand the potential synergies that exist between researchers currently working in health and labour economics in different institutions. New investment and greater coherency will make Scotland a significant international force in these areas of research.

Scotland has an established reputation for research in health economics. Among the priorities for research in health are issues of health inequality, life styles, demography and the efficiency of health service delivery. These are research areas in which the analytical and empirical tools that have been developed by labour economists offer the opportunity for substantial advances in knowledge. Labour economists have developed a range of analytical and empirical techniques that are now widely used to develop evidence-based policy in areas such as public health, demography, labour market and social policy.

In particular, labour economists have been at the forefront of developing advanced microeconometric techniques that are commonly used to interrogate large data sets, particularly those comprising (1) longitudinal data and (2) linked datasets. Such data are becoming increasingly available from administrative sources as well as from surveys. Labour economists have also brought new insights to the analysis of incentives and contracts, which are of vital concern in the field of health where the motivation and skills of the workforce are important to the delivery of services.

Using these methods offers the prospect of major research advances. In Aberdeen and Dundee, researchers have access to large, high-quality administrative datasets which are not accessible to the general research community. Stirling has a distinguished record of analysing national and international micro datasets and also has an extensive data library on older people and social care. At Napier University a body of researchers focus on related applied research that will enable the dissemination of the Work and Well-being outputs to a wider audience and so enhance user engagement. Employing new analytic methods and micro-econometric techniques offers the prospect of unique insights into the behaviours and environments associated with health and health care. The Work and Well-being programme is comprised of two themes that exploit these techniques: Health and Health Care and Work and Rewards.

As part of the SIRE Development the Work and Well-being programme will be making 9 new appointments – 4 Senior (Full Professor) appointments and 5 Junior Faculty appointments.


The programme focuses the existing resources (researchers, data and research infrastructures) of three universities – Aberdeen, Dundee, and Stirling. These three Universities are committed to establishing a world-class research institute with a focus on micro-econometric analyses of health, social care and labour market data. The programme will extend activity to include researchers from a wider network of universities, including those in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Napier and Strathclyde in order to build and enhance research capacity in Scotland.

The University of Aberdeen hosts an economics department with 16 (FTE) researchers (of whom 6 are actively conducting research on work and well-being themes) and the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) with 24 (FTE) health economists.HERU is one of the two leading centres for health economics in Europe and in RAE 2001 was graded 5. Health economists in HERU collaborate with health service researchers located within the Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) at Aberdeen.

HERU is home to large micro-panel datasets linking observations on the workforce to the organisations in which they work and the health outputs of these institutions. Extensive links exist between HERU and the economics department. The links are forged through an extensive range of joint activities: joint supervision of PhD students; joint seminars, workshops and training programmes; jointly hosting visitors and joint appointments. The direction of investment in economics in Aberdeen is aimed to realise the synergies that exist between the Universities’ established strengths in health and labour.

The University of Dundee has a Department of Economic Studies with 14 (FTE) researchers of whom 5 are actively conducting research on work and well-being themes and is the location of the Health Informatics Centre (HIC).

HIC is a multi-disciplinary centre which includes as distinct research units, the Dental Health Services Research Unit (DHSRU), Tayside Centre for General Practice (TCGP) and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. HIC has been developed to exploit a unique data opportunity that derives from the adoption within Tayside NHS of a unique patient identifier that enables individuals’ health care and health status data to be linked over long periods of time (the Community Health Index – CHI – number has been in use since 1980). Multidisciplinary research within HIC includes epidemiologists, statisticians, economists and health services researchers and has been a successful basis for bidding for research funding from MRC, health and welfare charities as well as the ESRC. The direction of investment in Work and Well-being is aimed to realise the synergies that exist between the University's established strengths in health and health care.

The University of Stirling has 12 FTE researchers in economics. Two professors are exclusively working on topics within the field of Work and Well-being, while the work of a further four staff are partly associated with the area. It has a strong record in the empirical analysis of labour contracts, particularly the determinants of wages and hours. It engages in high-profile multidisciplinary work in the area of social care with the 5-rated Department of Applied Social Science. This work is now extending into the microsimulation of social care and to the economic analysis of charities. It also has a strong record in environmental economics which is increasingly perceived as linked to the health agenda. In the last two years, its work has been supported by the ESRC, charities and government departments. It currently has four ESRC studentships, two of which are relevant to Work and Well-being. It helps provide expertise to an ESRC regional training centre at Stirling and is participating in an ESRC Researcher Development Initiative which is led by the Department of Applied Social Science. It has a long history in the analysis of large datasets, and has theoretical interests in contracts and incentives.

Napier University hosts the Employment Research Institute, which employs eight (FTE) researchers, plus a full-time Director. All work on projects related to the Work and Well-being theme and are supported in this work by a multi-disciplinary network of academic staff, including economists and statisticians.

Scotland has been recognised as a centre for clinical and bio-technology research specifically on account of its size and the unique organisation of its National Health Service. This has served to attract considerable inward investment of the kind exemplified, for example, by the Scottish Translational Medicine Research Collaboration. At the centre of such developments are the creation and utilisation of large individual level data sets. SIRE and the Work and Well-being programme will help maximise the benefits of such investments for the wider research community.

The Work and Well-being participants have an existing track record of collaboration and cooperation in research. These are evidenced by Martin Chalkley’s (Dundee) honorary appointment at Aberdeen, his participation in a range of projects run from HERU and his regular contributions to other HERU activities. Other Dundee economists also participate in HERU activities. There are established collaborations between David Bell (Stirling) and staff in HERU and the department of economics in Aberdeen. There are also established links between economists in Stirling and Edinburgh.