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Trinity Economist to Undertake Significant Research Programme on Financial Inclusion in East Africa

24th March 2014

Prof. Michael King of the Department of Economics will lead a 26-month research programme on financial inclusion and financial sector development in Kenya. The research programme, funded by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya, aims to make a step change in our understanding of the use and potential of financial services to support the livelihoods of Kenyan households.

Access to banking services is widely considered essential for the economic wellbeing of households in low-income countries. Despite this, levels of access to financial services vary widely with up to 2.5 billion people globally outside the formal banking system. Previous research by Trinity economists in 2012 estimated that approximately 80 percent (300 million people) of the population of eleven Sub-Saharan African countries do not have a formal bank account and are deemed ‘financially excluded’.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Prof. King said, “It is a very exciting time to conduct banking related research in Kenya. Kenya is widely acknowledged as a global leader in innovation of financial services for low-income households and Nairobi is a banking and insurance hub for East Africa.” These achievements have been tracked by recent data collection efforts. The proportion of adults with access to formal financial services has risen from 17% in 2006 to 33% in 2012, while the use of mobile money has risen to 62% of the adult population since its launch in 2007. Despite this, there is still a long way to go before financial products are properly designed to meet the needs of poor households.

The research programme will investigate important issues such as the interaction between poverty and financial inclusion, the geospatial dimensions of financial access, the impact of new financial services and the changing role of mobile banking services. The research programme will have a special focus on assessing the impact of new financial products and related technologies.

For further details see :

PhD Opportunity: 2014 Grattan Scholarship in Financial Inclusion (Financial Sector Development)

17th January 2014

This prestigious scholarship is available for  students entering in 2014/2015. The scholarship runs for four years and covers fees and an annual stipend of €20,000. As part of the scholarship, Grattan  scholars contribute to the department’s teaching programme. The deadline for application is 31st March 2014.

The successful scholar will explore the impact of innovative financial services; the role played by financial literacy and broader financial sector development issues in developing countries. New innovations in financial services have the potential to transform the lives of low-income individuals in developing countries as access and usage of saving, transaction and credit services play a central role in efforts to smooth consumption, invest in human or productive capital, and reduce exposure to uncertainties. These services are particularly important for the poor who face fluctuating incomes in agricultural and informal sectors, and who are vulnerable to health and institutional shocks.

Two other scholarships are available for students commencing September 2014 and details can be found at this link: Three Grattan Scholarships 2014.


Hiring: Post Doctoral Fellow in Financial Inclusion

10th January 2014

The Department of Economics is seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Fellow focused on financial sector development in East Africa on a Specific Purpose Contract. The successful candidate will join a growing team investigating the the role financial services plan in the lives of low income households in developing countries. The position is funded by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya funded project which aims to examine various microeconomic aspects of financial inclusion in Kenya and East Africa. The job details can be found at this link: Post Doctoral Fellow Job Description.


Trinity Launches 2014-2016 MSc in Economics Policy Studies with Special Lecture on Unemployment

5th December 2013

The Trinity Department of Economics marked the launch of its MSc in Economic Policy Studies for 2014-2016 with a special guest lecture on unemployment by Prof. Jochen Kluve.  An expert on unemployment policy and a former student of Trinity, Prof. Kluve is Professor of Empirical Labour Economics at the School of Business and Economics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Despite the recent improvement in the Live Register, Ireland’s unemployment rate remains one of the highest in Europe. Designing effective labour market policies post-crisis is an important policy objective and requires an ongoing discourse between economists and policy makers. Prof. Kluve reviewed the empirical evidence on various job creation programmes that have been pursued by governments globally, and highlighted the tension that often exists between public demands for action and the evidence of what inverventions are successful. His main conclusion pointed to the effectiveness and importance of job search and matching initiatives and improvements in and targeting of training programmes.

Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, was the key respondent. He endorsed the need for evidence-based policy making, and outlined the steps his department has taken to ensure that new employment policies are evaluated in a rigorous and unbiased way.

The MSc in Economic Policy Studies (EPS) is a two-year, part-time postgraduate programme designed to provide participants with the skills to apply economic perspectives, approaches and related skills to the study of policy issues. Speaking at the launch, the course director, Prof. Michael King, announced that the new programme starting in September 2014 will have a special focus on rigorous statistical methods, programme and project evaluation and the policy issues related to monetary authorities and the banking sector. Prof. King said that “the programme is continually evolving to meet the changing needs of the Irish public service and economic policymaking in Ireland”.

More information on the MSc in Economic Policy Studies can be found on the here.