2017 Oct  –  Associate Professor of Public Policy
Department of Political Science,
University College London
2014 Jul  – 2017 Sep Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Public Policy
Department of Political Science,
University College London
2011 Jan  – 2014 Jun Ussher Assistant Professor of Political Economy
Department of Political Science,
Trinity College, Dublin
2009 Sep  – 2010 Dec Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Institute for International Integration Studies,
Trinity College, Dublin

Affiliated Research Positions

2019 Dec  –  Associate Member
Nuffield College, Oxford,
2015 Jul  –  2016 Oct Research Associate
Institute for Fiscal Studies,
2014 Summer  –  Visiting Research Fellow
Department of Political Science,
Trinity College, Dublin
2014 Spring/Summer Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science,
University of British Columbia
2009 Spring Visiting Doctoral Student
Department of Political Science,
Yale University


2005 – 2009 DPhil Politics
Nuffield College, Oxford
2003 – 2004 MSc European Public Policy
University College London
1999 – 2002 BSc Economics
University of Bristol


  • Jacobs, Alan M., J. Scott Matthews, Timothy Hicks, and Eric Merkley (Conditionally Accepted). “Whose News? Class-Biased Economic Reporting in the United States”. American Political Science Review.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Abstract

      There is substantial evidence that voters’ choices are shaped by assessments of the state of the economy and that these assessments, in turn, are influenced by the news. But how does the economic news track the welfare of different income groups in an era of rising inequality? Whose economy does the news cover? Drawing on a large new dataset of U.S. news content, we demonstrate that the tone of the economic news strongly and disproportionately tracks the fortunes of the richest households, with little sensitivity to income changes among the non-rich. Further, we present evidence that this “class bias” emerges not from pro-rich journalistic preferences but, rather, from the interaction of the media’s focus on economic aggregates with structural features of the relationship between economic growth and distribution. The findings yield a novel explanation of distributionally perverse electoral patterns and demonstrate how the structure of the economy conditions economic accountability.

  • Barnes, Lucy and Timothy Hicks (First View). “All Keynesians Now? Public Support for Countercyclical Government Borrowing”. Political Science Research & Methods.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Replication data available from the PSRM Dataverse.
    • Abstract

      In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, macroeconomic policy returned to the political agenda, and the influence of Keynesian ideas about fiscal stimulus rose (and then fell) in expert circles. Much less is known, however, about whether and when Keynesian prescriptions for countercyclical spending have any support among the general public. We use a survey experiment, fielded twice, to recover the extent to which UK respondents hold such countercyclical attitudes. Our results indicate that public opinion was countercyclical — Keynesian — in 2016. We then use Eurobarometer data to estimate the same basic parameter for the population for the period 2010-2017. The observational results validate our experimental findings for the later period, but also provide evidence that the UK population held procyclical views at the start of the period. Thus, there appear to be important dynamics in public opinion on a key macroeconomic policy issue.

  • Barnes, Lucy and Timothy Hicks (2018). “Making Austerity Popular: The Media and Mass Attitudes Towards Fiscal Policy”. American Journal of Political Science, 62:2, pp.340-354.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Replication data available from the AJPS Dataverse.
    • Abstract

      What explains variation in individual attitudes towards government deficits? Although macroeconomic stance is of paramount importance for contemporary governments, our understanding of its popular politics is limited. We argue that popular attitudes regarding austerity are influenced by media (and wider elite) framing. Information necessary to form preferences on the deficit is not provided neutrally, and its provision shapes how voters understand their interests. A wide range of evidence from Britain between 2010 and 2015 supports this claim. In the British Election Study, deficit attitudes vary systematically with the source of news consumption, even controlling for party identification. A structural topic model of two major newspapers’ reporting shows that content varies systematically with respect to coverage of public borrowing – in ways that intuitively accord with the attitudes of their readerships. Finally, a survey experiment suggests causation from media to attitudes: deficit preferences change based on the presentation of deficit information.

  • Chapman, Bruce and Timothy Hicks (2018). “The Politics of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme”, in Hamish Coates, Brendan Cantwell, and Roger King (Eds.), Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education. Edward Elgar.
  • Hicks, Timothy, Alan M. Jacobs, and J. Scott Matthews (2016). “Inequality and Electoral Accountability: Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”. Journal of Politics 78:4, pp.1076–1093.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Replication data available from the JoP Dataverse.
    • A more user-friendly packaging of the replication data.
    • Abstract

      Do electorates hold governments accountable for the distribution of economic welfare? Building on the finding of “class-biased economic voting” in the United States, we examine how electorates in advanced democracies respond to alternative distributions of income gains and losses. Drawing on individual-level electoral data and aggregate election results across 15 countries, we examine whether lower- and middle-income voters defend their distributive interests by punishing governments for concentrating income gains among the rich. We find no indication that non-rich voters punish rising inequality and substantial evidence that electorates positively reward the concentration of aggregate income growth at the top. Our results suggest that governments commonly face political incentives systematically skewed in favor of inegalitarian economic outcomes. At the same time, we find that the electorate’s tolerance of rising inequality has its limits: class biases in economic voting diminish as the income shares of the rich grow in magnitude.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2016). “Acting Right? Privatization, Encompassing Interests, and the Left”. Political Science Research & Methods 4:2, pp.427–448.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Replication data available from the PSRM Dataverse.
    • Abstract

      I present a theoretical account of the politics of privatization that predicts left-wing support for the policy is conditional on the proportionality of the electoral system. In contrast to accounts that see privatization as an inherently right-wing policy, I argue that, like trade policy, it has the feature of creating distributed benefits and concentrated costs. Less proportional electoral systems create incentives for the Left to be responsive to those who face the concentrated costs, and thus for them to oppose privatization more strongly. More proportional systems reduce these incentives and increase the extent to which distributed benefits are internalized by elected representatives. Hypotheses are derived from this theory at both the individual and macro-policy level, and then tested separately. Quantitative evidence on public opinion from the 1990s and privatization revenues from Western European countries over the period 1980–2005 supports the argument.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2015). “Inequality, marketisation, and the left: Schools policy in England and Sweden”. European Journal of Political Research 54:2, 326-342.
    • Republished as part of the Qualitative Research Virtual Special Issue of the EJPR (March 2016).
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Abstract

      It is argued in this article that the marketisation of schools policy has a tendency to produce twin effects: an increase in educational inequality, and an increase in general satisfaction with the schooling system. However, the effect on educational inequality is very much stronger where prevailing societal inequality is higher. The result is that cross-party political agreement on the desirability of such reforms is much more likely where societal inequality is lower (as the inequality effects are also lower). Counterintuitively, then, countries that are more egalitarian – and so typically thought of as being more left-wing – will have a higher likelihood of adopting marketisation than more unequal countries. Evidence is drawn from a paired comparison of English and Swedish schools policies from the 1980s to the present. Both the policy history and elite interviews lend considerable support for the theory in terms of both outcomes and mechanisms.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2014). “Partisan Governance and Policy Implementation: The Politics of Academy Conversion Amongst English Schools”. Public Administration 92:4, 995-1016.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Abstract

      This article demonstrates that party-political orientations within governance communities can have strong effects on policy implementation. Empirical evidence is drawn from the Academy conversion scheme for secondary schools in England that was recently pursued by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The opt-in nature of the reform makes it possible to discern the impact that nominally apolitical school governors have on the implementation of the policy. Academy conversion is disproportionately found in more Conservative-voting constituencies due to varying school-level propensities to apply to convert, rather than varying propensities for the Department for Education to authorize conversions. Further, applications to convert are significantly more likely from schools in Conservative parliamentary seats that are under the control of Labour local authorities. Thus, nominally apolitical policy participants appear to act in rather political ways, which has implications for our understanding of the involvement of civil society in the provision of public services.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2013). “Partisan Strategy and Path Dependence: The Post-War Emergence of Health Systems in the UK and Sweden”. Comparative Politics 45:2, 207–226.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Abstract

      Why did a highly redistributive, nationalized health care system emerge in the UK, where the Left was comparatively weak, while a more redistributively neutral, cash-centric, insurance-based system was pursued in Sweden, where the Left was strong? The explanation is two fold. First, in contrast to the Swedish Social Democrats, the weakness of the British Labour Party constrained it to pursue redistribution via health policy. Second, given the redistributive goals of the National Health Service, it became imperative for the Labour Party to construct a system that would be difficult for future Conservative governments to retrench. More generally, this formulation posits rational actors operating in the kinds of processes typically studied by historical institutionalists. The result is a tendency for a type of path dependence by design.


PhD Supervision

  • Liam Kneafsey (TCD: 2013-2017)
  • Philipp Schroeder (UCL: 2018-)


  • Theories and Actors of the Policy Process: MSc, UCL (2014).
  • Parties and Public Policy: MSc, TCD (2011, 2012, 2013).
  • International Political Economy: MSc, TCD (2011, 2012, 2013).
  • Political Economy: PhD, TCD (2011).
  • Dissertation Supervision: 11 MSc students, TCD (2011, 2012, 2013).


  • Introduction to Politics: UCL (2015-2017).
  • (Introduction to) Public Policy: UCL (2015, 2016).
  • The Politics of Inequality: TCD (2011, 2012, 2013).
  • European Union Politics: TCD (2011).
  • Government and Politics in Western Europe: Oxford (2008).
  • International Political Economy: Oxford (2008).

Funding & Awards

  • “Are The Rich Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago? Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”: Irish Research Council (2014)  —  €120,747 (Declined).
  • “Are The Rich Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago? Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”: Arts & Benefactions Fund, TCD (2013)  —  €1,500.
  • “The Politics of School Choice”: Arts & Benefactions Fund, TCD (2012)  —  €2,000.
  • Paper nominated for APSA conference award (2009).
  • Travel award: APSA (2009).
  • Travel award: DPIR, University of Oxford (2009).
  • Mobility Fund for Lisbon Joint Sessions: ECPR (2009).
  • Grants to support conference on “Inequality & Institutions”: DPIR; OCSID; Nuffield College – all University of Oxford (2009).
  • Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models: Washington University in St Louis (2008).
  • Travel award: Nuffield College, Oxford (2008).
  • Travel award: Norman Chester Fund, University of Oxford (2008).
  • Travel award and fee support for ECPR Summer School: Nuffield College, Oxford (2007).
  • Doctoral studentship: Nuffield College, Oxford (2005-2008).



American Political Science Association (2013, 2012, 2011, 2009); Council for European Studies (2014, 2012, 2009); European Consortium for Political Research General Conference (2011); European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions (2009); European Political Science Association (2013, 2011); Midwest Political Science Association (2009, 2007); Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (2009).

Workshops and Seminars

  • University of Washington Severyns-Ravenholt Seminar in Comparative Politics (May 5, 2017) — TBC.
  • Vienna University of Economics workshop on “Social and Political Inequality” (Sep. 23–24, 2016) — “Whose News? How Economic News Responds to the Distribution of Gains and Losses”.
  • University of Reading School of Politics & International Relations seminar (Mar. 8, 2016) — “The Construction of Attitudes Over Fiscal Policy: Evidence From the UK, 2010–2015”.
  • Institute for Fiscal Studies Education and Skills seminar (Nov. 17, 2015) — “Consequences of Academy Conversion in the English Schooling System?”.
  • University of Oxford Comparative Political Economy seminar (May 21, 2015) — “Risk, Recession, and Declining Popular Demand for the Welfare State”.
  • University of British Columbia “Comp-Can” workshop (Mar. 19, 2014) — “Inequality, Partisan Politics, and the (Surprising) Private Provision of Public Schooling”.
  • Dublin City University Centre for International Studies seminar (Oct. 2, 2013) — “Are the Rich Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago? Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”.
  • University College Dublin workshop on “Financialization, Consumption, and Social Welfare Politics” (May 24, 2012) — “Left Behind? Partisan Politics After The Financial Crisis”.
  • Paris School of Economics Political Economy and Institutional Change seminar (Dec. 13, 2011) — “Strategic Partisanship and Policy Over-Reach”.
  • London School of Economics IR Dept Cumberland Lodge Conference (Nov. 19, 2011) — “Left Behind? Partisan Politics After The Financial Crisis”.
  • Bremen University workshop on “Education, Religion and the Gender-vote-gap” (Oct. 14, 2011) — “The Partisan Politics of School Choice”.
  • Gothenburg University QoG seminar (Nov. 2, 2010) — “Acting Right? Left-wing Strength and Privatization”.
  • Konstanz University workshop on “Welfare State Traditions, Education and Higher Education Policy” (May 6, 2010) — “On the Comparative Political Economy of Educational Production”.

Extra Training


Professor David Rueda
(DPhil Supervisor)
Nuffield College,
Professor David Soskice
(DPhil Supervisor)
Department of Government,
London School of Economics
Professor Johannes Lindvall
Department of Political Science,
Lund University,
Associate Professor Alan Jacobs
Department of Political Science,
University of British Columbia

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