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Position: Professor of Public Economics
Research Interests: Economic theory of the welfare state, social insurance, pensions, health finance, the finance of higher education.
Nicholas Barr FRSA has an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and a PhD from the University
of California, Berkeley, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He is Professor of Public Economics at the London School of Economics, the author of numerous
articles, and author or editor of over twenty books, including
The Economics of the Welfare State (5th edition, 2012),
Pension Reform: A Short Guide (with Peter Diamond) (2010, also in
and Spanish), and
Financing Higher Education: Answers from the UK (with Iain Crawford), (2005).
The heart of his work is an exploration of how market failures can both explain and justify the existence of welfare states.
He is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Social Security Review
and an Associate Editor of CESifo Economic Studies, the Australian Economic Review and the Journal of the Economics of Ageing.
Alongside teaching and research is wide-ranging involvement in policy. He worked at the World Bank from 1990-1992 on the design of
income transfers and health finance in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, and from 1995-1996 as one of the authors of the World Bank's
World Development Report 1996: From Plan to Market.
He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Fiscal Affairs Department at the International
Monetary Fund, a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils on Demographic Shifts and on Ageing Society
and a member of the governing bodies of HelpAge International and the Pensions Policy Institute.
Since the mid 1980s he has been active in the debate about financing higher education, advocating a system of income-contingent student loans
collected alongside income tax or social security contributions. In the UK, he argued for many years for tuition fees fully covered by income-contingent
loans, and he and his colleague Iain Crawford have been described as the architects of the 2006 reforms in England.
He led the team that designed the student loan system in Hungary and has advised governments in Australia, New Zealand and Chile.
His impact case study (top-rated in the UK 2014 Research Excellence Framework),
can be found
here and the associated video
He is also involved in pensions policy. He was a member of a small group invited to advise the government of China on pension reform,
presenting their findings to the Premier in 2004; and he and Peter Diamond presented a follow-up report in 2009.
More recently, he was a member of a Presidential Commission on Reform of the Pension System in Chile which presented its report in 2015.
He has also advised governments in the UK, China, Finland, Sweden and South Africa (where he also contributed to the Lund Committee on Child and Family Support).
A range of academic and policy writing can be found on http://econ.lse.ac.uk/staff/nb/
Activities outside academic life include family, travel, photography, membership of Middlesex County Cricket Club and
involvement in opposing an ill-considered
planning application in his home village.
A photograph of Nick Barr in higher resolution can be downloaded from here.
Updated: 20 September 2017
- Telephone: +44-20-7955-7482†
- Email: email@example.com
- Room number: KSW 4.09
[Welfare State |
Higher Education Finance | Press Articles on Higher Education Finance |
Post-Communist Reform |
Other | Blogs and Videos | Working Papers]
- (with Peter Diamond), Response to Superannuation: Assessing Efficiency and Competitiveness: Productivity Commission Draft Report, Australia Productivity Commission, July 2018
- (with Michael Otsuka), Risk sharing in pensions for USS employers
- (with Peter Diamond), Designing a default structure: Submission to the Inquiry into Superannuation: Assessing Efficiency and Competitiveness,
Australia Productivity Commission, September 2017
- (with Peter Diamond), Reforming pensions in Chile, Polityka Spoleczna, No. 1, 2016, pp. 4-9
- 'Can we afford the welfare state?',In: Franklin, Ben, Urzi Brancati, Cesira and Hocklaf, Dean, (eds.)
Towards a new age: The future of the UK welfare state. The International Longevity Centre, London, UK, 2016, pp. 35-40.
- What reform directions for USS? 15 February 2015
- The Pension System in Sweden, Report to the Expert Group on Public Economics (ESO),
2013:7, Stockholm: Ministry of Finance, 2013
The pension system in Finland: Adequacy, sustainability and system design,
Evaluation of the Finnish Pension System Part 1, Helsinki: Finnish Centre for Pensions, Elšketurvakeskus, 2013
- The Economics of the Welfare State, 5th edition, Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press, 2012
- Credit crisis and pensions: international scope
In: Bovenberg, Lans, van Ewijk, Casper and Westerhout, Ed, (eds.) The Future of Multi-Pillar Pensions.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2012, pp. 90-141. ISBN 9781107022263
- (with Peter Diamond), Improving Sweden's Automatic Pension Adjustment Mechanism
Issue Brief Number 11-2, January 2011, Chestnut Hill, MA: Center for Retirement at Boston College.
- A toolkit for assessing reform of public sector pensions
- The recommendations of the Hutton Report will protect workers and pensioners, but we must come to terms with retiring later
- Retirement age - a good news story
- Pension Reform in China: Issues, Options and Recommendations with Peter Diamond, February 2010, also in Chinese
Pension Reform: A Short Guide with Peter Diamond, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, also in
- ‘Reforming pensions: Principles, analytical errors and policy directions’, with Peter Diamond, International Social Security Review, Vol. 62, No. 2, 2009, pp. 5-29 (also in French, German and Spanish).
- (with Peter Diamond) Reforming Pensions
- (with Peter Diamond) Reforming pensions: Principles and Policy Choices,
New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531130-3
- The Economics of Welfare - Pensions, Health Care, Unemployment and Long-term Care Insurance in the Twenty First Century, (Tokyo: Kouseikan, 2007), ISBN 978-4-332-60083-1 (Japanese translation of The Welfare State as Piggy Bank, 2001)
- 'Reforming pensions: Tales from China, Chile and elsewhere' Barclay Memorial Lecture 1st February 2007
- 'Pensions: Overview of the Issues', Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22. No. 1, Spring 2006, pp. 1-14
- (with Peter Diamond) 'The Economics of Pensions', Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22. No. 1, Spring 2006, pp. 15-39
- Social Security Reform in China: Issues and Options,
Policy Study of the China Economic Research and Advisory Programme, January 2005
(with Mukul Asher, Peter Diamond, Edwin Lim, and James Mirrlees), also in Chinese. See also
Social Security Reform in China: Further Notes On Issues And Options in
English and Chinese.
- The Economics of the Welfare State, 4th edition, Oxford University Press and Stanford University Press, 2004. (also in Hungarian and Korean)
- Pensions: Challenges and Choices: What next? (PDF)
Pensions: Challenges and Choices: The First Report of the Pensions Commission, London: TSO, 2004
- The Welfare State as Piggy Bank,
Oxford University Press, 2001
- (Editor) Economic Theory and the Welfare State, Edward Elgar Library in Critical
Writings in Economics, Edward Elgar, 2001
Truths, and Policy Choices',
Working Paper WP/00/139, Washington DC: International Monetary Fund, 2000.
- 'Genetic Screening and Insurance', in Third Report: Human Genetics: The Science and
Consequences, Volume II Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons Science and Technology
Session 1994-95, HC 41-IV, HMSO, 1995, pp. 242-247.
- 'Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation', Journal of
Economic Literature, Vol. 30, No. 2, June 1992, pp. 741-803.
Higher Education Finance
- Strategic policy directions for tertiary education,Submission to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, April 2018
(with Bruce Chapman, Lorraine Dearden and Susan Dynarski),
‘Reflections on the US College Loans
System: Lessons from Australia and England’, IZA Discussion Paper No. 11422,
- Funding post-compulsory education. In: Johnes, Geraint, Johnes, Jill, Agasisti, Tommaso and Lůpez-Torres, Laura, (eds.)
Handbook on the Economics of Education. Edward Elgar, 2017.
- Milton Friedman and the finance of higher education. In: In: Cord, Robert and Hammond, J. Daniel , (eds.)
Milton Friedman: Contributions to Economics and Public Policy. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2016, pp. 436-463. ISBN 9780198704324
- Thoughts on the fees cap
Shaping Higher Education: 50 years after Robbins, London: London School of Economics
- (with Alison Johnston) 'Student loan reform, interest subsidies and costly technicalities: lessons from the UK experience'
Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 2013, Vol. 35. No. 2, pp. 166-177.
- The Higher Education White Paper: The good, the bad, the unspeakable - and the next White Paper
Social Policy and Administration, Vol. 46. No. 5, October 2012, pp. 438-508.
- Assessing the White Paper on Higher Education: Supplementary evidence to BIS Select Committee
- Breaking the logjam: Evidence to BIS Select Committee
- (with Alison Johnston), Saving Student Loans
- Towards setting student numbers free
- Designing Student Loans To Protect Low Earners
- Comment on the Browne Review
- Student loans to protect low earners
- Paying for higher education: What policies, in what order?
- (with Alison Johnston), Interest subsidies on student loans: A better class of drain
- 'Financing higher education: tax, graduate tax or loans?', in Hills, John, Le Grand, Julian, and Piachaud, David (eds) (2007), Making Social Policy Work: Essays in honour of Howard Glennerster, Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 109-130.
- ‘Financing Higher Education’, Finance and Development, Vol. 42, No. 2, June 2005
- 'Financing Higher Education: Answers from the UK', with Iain Crawford, London and New York: Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0-415-34857-9.
‘Higher education funding’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2004, pp. 264-283
- 'Financing Higher Education: Comparing the Options', June 2003
- 'Financing Higher Education in the UK: The 2003 White Paper', House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, Post-16 student support, Session 2002-03, March 2003
- 'Funding Higher Education: Policies for Access and Quality', House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, Post-16 student support, Session 2001-02, 24 April 2002
- 'Higher Education in Australia and Britain: What Lessons?', Australian
Economic Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, June 1998, pp. 179-88.
- 'Education Funding, Equity and the Life Cycle' in Falkingham,
Jane and Hills, John (eds), The Dynamic of Welfare: The Welfare State
and the Life Cycle, Prentice-Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1995,
pp. 137-149 (with Jane Falkingham and Howard Glennerster).
- 'Paying for Learning', STICERD Discussion Paper WSP/94, September 1993 (with Jane Falkingham)
- 'Alternative Funding Resources for Higher Education', Economic Journal,
Vol 103, No 418, May 1993, pp. 718-28.
Press Articles on Higher Education Finance
- Government student loan explanations 'woeful'
- Why a graduate tax is a bad idea
- Fees harm access -- a case of pub economics
- 'Interest subsidies on student loans are the root of all evil', The Independent, 25 March 2010
- 'A graduate tax is for life, not just for a few years’, Guardian Education, 24 March 2009
- 'The NUS has got it wrong. Fees help the poorest', Guardian Education, 31 October 2006, p. 10,
- 'Making universities universal', LSE Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 2, Winter 2004, pp. 20-21
- 'Variable Fees are the Fairer Route to Quality'
March 30 2004
- 'Why Nobody Need Lose in this System'
January 24 2004
- 'A Good Deal for All the Family'
Times Educational Supplement
January 23 2004
- 'Myth or Magic?'
December 2 2003
- 'Can't Pay, Won't Pay'
June 12 2003
- 'University Funding: Discuss'
Times Higher Education Supplement,
January 17 2003
- 'End the Turf War'
The Independent, January 16 2003
- 'A Way to Make Universities Universal'
Financial Times, November 21 2002
- (Editor) Labor Markets and Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Accession and Beyond, Washington DC: The World Bank, 2005, ISBN 0-8213-6119-8
- 'Reforming welfare states in post-communist countries', in Orlowski, Lucjan T. (ed.), Transition and Growth in Post-Communist Countries: The Ten-Year Experience,
Edward Elgar, 2001, pp. 169-218.
- 'Investing People and Growth' in World Development Report 1996: From Plan to
Market, New York: Oxford University Press for the World Bank, 1996, pp. 123-31.
- 'People and Transition' in World Development Report 1996: From Plan to Market,
New York: Oxford University Press for the World Bank, 1996, pp. 66-84.
- Labor Markets and Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Transition and
Beyond, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994 (also in Hungarian, Romanian
- 'The History of the Phillips Machine' in Leeson, Robert (ed.),
A. W. H. Phillips: Collected Works in Contemporary Perspective, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 89-114.
Blogs and videos
- (with Andy Westwood), ‘Asking the right question’, Wonkhe, 5 June 2019
- ‘Why a second referendum would not be undemocratic’, LSE Brexit, 24 January 2019
- ‘A beginner’s guide to student loans in the public accounts’, Wonkhe, 7 January 2019
'Don't hobble post-Brexit Britain by throwing away Single Market membership', LSE Brexit, 29 March 2017.
'Labour markets, welfare and the portability of rights', Brexit Lunchtime Lectures, London School of Economics, 1 March 2017.
'Entrevista con Nicholas Barr de la London School of Economics', Madrid, 12 December 2016.
'Letter to friends (2): why Britain voted to leave, and what to do about it', LSE BrexitVote, 22 July 2016.
'Letter to friends: this is why I will vote Remain in the referendum', LSE BrexitVote, 27 May 2016.
with a brief postscript.
'Why the UK should remain in the EU', LSE Centre for Economic Performance Brexit 2016, 27 May 2016.
'EU membership is not the only way to foster labour mobility. But it is the best', LSE Brexit Vote, 1 January 2016.
'University fees: how to structure a system that benefits poor students', The Conversation, 23 October 2015.
'Higher education and student funding', British Government@LSE Elections Policy Panel, London School of Economics, 18 February 2015.
'Nicholas Barr remembers Bill Phillips', LSE History Blog, 18 November 2014.
'Tuition Fees', Gearty Grilling, 2 October 2014.
'Designing pensions for coverage and adequacy: Lessons from economic theory and some policy directions', 2014 Seminar on ageing and labour markets,
Fundacja Naukowa Instytut Bada? Strukturalnych (Institute for Structural Research), Warsaw, 25 September 2014.
'The case for social pensions', Jobs and Development Blog, 9 December 2013.
'Focus on Better Student Loans', New York Times, 6 November 2013.
'Government student loan explanations "woeful"', MoneySavingExpert Guest Comment, 29 July 2011.
'The recommendations of the Hutton Report will protect workers and pensioners, but we must come to terms with retiring later', LSE British Politics and Policy, 15 March 2011.
'A properly designed graduate contribution could work well for UK students and higher education - even though the original "graduate tax" proposal is a terrible idea',
LSE British Politics and Policy, 20 August 2010.
'Financing higher education for quality and access', Keynote address, Conference on theWhite Paper and Beyond: Tertiary Education Reform in the Czech Republic Prague, 16 October 2009.
'Reforming pensions in Europe: Four policies in search of a politician', LSE European Institute-FT Business Future of Europe Public Lecture Series,
London School of Economics, 11 February 2009.