Research and Supervision Interests

I am currently conducting research in three areas of study. If you are thinking of applying for a PhD in Political Science at UCL, then please do contact me if you plan to work in any of these areas. More broadly, I would be willing to supervise projects focused on comparative political economy in advanced industrialized democracies.

The Politics of Inequality

This work is mainly collaborative with Alan Jacobs (UBC) and Scott Matthews (MUN). We are interested in whether and how economic inequality translates into political inequality. Our focus is comparative but, in many ways, we are motivated by research on the USA. Thus, we have a working paper that extends the finding by Larry Bartels that the US exhibits “class-biased economic voting”, whereby voters reward incumbent presidents for income growth at the top of the income distribution, rather than more generally. We show that the phenomenon is much more general across developed democracies. Building on this, we also have a working paper that seeks to assess whether newspaper reports of economic performance are skewed such that they are more responsive to factors correlated with top income growth.


  • Hicks, Timothy, Alan Jacobs, Scott Matthews, and Eric Merkley. “Whose News? How Economic News Responds to the Distribution of Gains and Losses”.
    • Presented (by me) at:
      • The Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics conference (London, July 2015).
      • The American Political Science Association conference (Philadelphia, September 2016).
      • The “Social and Political Inequality” workshop at the Vienna University of Economics (September 2016).
  • Hicks, Timothy, Alan M. Jacobs, and J. Scott Matthews (forthcoming). “Inequality and Electoral Accountability: Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”. Journal of Politics 78:4, pp.1076–1093.

The Politics Education

I have a long-running interest in education policy – especially schools policy – often in comparative perspective. My focus is typically on whether and why such policy is moved towards more marketized models of provision – including policies such as school choice, vouchers, free schools, academies, and the like. This has led to papers that seek to understand the politics of marketization in England and Sweden, as well as how politics has influenced the implementation of the Academy conversion programme in England.

I am conducting work that seeks to evaluate the consequences of Academy conversion for school composition and exam performance.


  • Hicks, Timothy. “Consequences of School Autonomy: Evidence from Mass ‘Academy’€ Conversion in the English Schooling System
  • Hicks, Timothy. “Decentralized Public Management and the Workforce: Evidence from Mass ‘Academy’€ Conversion in the English Schooling System
    • Under review.
  • Chapman, Bruce and Timothy Hicks (Forthcoming). “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 (2015). “Inequality, marketisation, and the left: Schools policy in England and Sweden”. European Journal of Political Research 54:2, 326-342.
  • Hicks, Timothy (2014). “Partisan Governance and Policy Implementation: The Politics of Academy Conversion Amongst English Schools”. Public Administration 92:4, 995-1016.

The Politics of Fiscal Policy

This work is mainly collaborative with Lucy Barnes (UCL). We are interested in the ways in which voters think about fiscal policy, especially in the context of “austerity”. This has led to a working paper that seeks to link attitudes towards government debts and deficits to attitudes regarding welfare state expenditure. We have also begun exploring how the media may have influenced perceptions of fiscal policy in the UK while the coalition government of 2010-2015 was in office. This has involved quantitative media content analysis, and we are now seeking to extend our findings with the use of survey experiments in order to more reliably test our causal claims.


  • Barnes, Lucy and Timothy Hicks. “A Popular Paradox of Thrift? Personal and Public Austerity
    • In progress.
  • Barnes, Lucy and Timothy Hicks. “Making Austerity Popular: The Media and Mass Attitudes Towards Fiscal Policy
    • Forthcoming at the American Journal of Political Science.
    • Replication data available from the AJPS Dataverse.
    • Presented (by me) at:
      • The European Political Science Association conference (Vienna, June 2015).
      • The School of Politics & International Relations seminar at the University of Reading (March 2016).
  • Barnes, Lucy and Timothy Hicks. “Risk, Recession, and Popular Demand for the Welfare State

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