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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 Assessment 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 were invited to present 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 to the President 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.
Updated: 14 January 2016
- 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 | Working Papers]
- 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, Eläketurvakeskus, 2013
- The Economics of the Welfare State, 5th edition, Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press, 2012
- 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).
- Reforming Pensions November 2008 with Peter Diamond
- Reforming pensions: Principles and Policy Choices, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531130-3 (with Peter Diamond)
- 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
- 'The Economics of Pensions', Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22. No. 1, Spring 2006, pp. 15-39
(with Peter Diamond)
- 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
- 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
- Saving Student Loans, with Alison Johnston
- 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?
- Interest subsidies on student loans: A better class of drain, with Alison Johnston
- '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.