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Posted 20 May 2009

Barrington Medal for UCD economist

The Council of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland under the auspices of the Barrington Trust (founded in 1836 at the bequest of John Barrington) has awarded UCD economist Dr Liam Delaney the 2009/2010 Barrington Prize in recognition of his promising new research in the economic and social sciences.

Each year, the award winner delivers the Barrington Lecture which focuses on a topic with current relevance to economic or social policy in Ireland. In this year’s lecture - the one hundred and twenty-third Barrington Lecture - Dr Delaney examined the health and well-being of the Irish population during the Celtic Tiger period, a time of unprecedented increases in economic activity in Ireland.

Using statistical data from administrative and survey sources, and drawing on theories of the development of societies, as well as theories from behavioural economics and econometric techniques, Delaney investigated whether this period of growth improved well-being and welfare in Ireland.

He examined the extent to which Ireland fits into a phenomenon known as the Easterlin Paradox - a pattern of declining correlation between GDP and well-being at the later stages of development. He also measured the extent to which individual well-being is predicted by income as compared to other aspects of welfare like health and employment status.

“Our results fit well with a model where core factors such as health, social support, employment etc have dramatically stronger effects on well-being than income and consumption,” says Dr Delaney. “Individuals in an economy such as Ireland may over-focus on the role of income in promoting well-being and also engage in patterns of consumption fuelled by advertising, addiction and peer effects that are at odds with long-term health and well-being.”

In the context of an ageing society, according to Dr Delaney, strong correlations between well-being and factors such as arthritis, unemployment, divorce, low social contact, poor health and so on may imply that the next wave of growth should focus on these issues.   


Dr Liam Delaney is a senior researcher in the UCD Geary Institute and holds a joint appointment with the UCD School of Public Health and Population Science and the UCD School of Economics. He lectures econometrics, health economics and behavioural economics and supervises post-graduate students in Economics, Psychology and Public Health. He is Irish co-ordinator of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe, principal investigator of the Irish Universities Study, Irish country representative for the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology and leads a number of studies relating to human behaviour, well-being and health.

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Barrington Medal for UCD economist