UQ Applied and Theoretical Economics research has established an enviable international reputation across a range of fields including economic theory, econometrics and applied economics (including environmental economics): our researchers are among Australia’s most sought-after sources of economic commentary and analysis. The Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) exercise ranked UQ Economics among the best in Australia in terms of achieving above world standard research outcomes.

UQ Economics pushes the boundaries of economic theory to extend our understanding and application of the discipline, with wide-ranging impacts on government policy, industry decisions and public debate in Australia and internationally.

Applied economics at UQ boasts four researchers who are consistently in the top 15 Economists in Australia in the Research Papers in Economics (RePec) rankings, making it the single strongest group of economists in the country. Our researchers are weekly in the national media and interact with policy makers at all levels, particularly on the issue of climate change. Recently, a UQ project to model the economic impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector was central to the Garnaut Review’s estimates of climate change effects on agricultural output and prices: this was identified as the most significant single economic impact projected to arise from climate change.

Our researchers are proud recipients of prestigious awards and accolades, and include six Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia, three Fellows of the Econometric Society, the nation’s only Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow in Economics (Professor John Quiggin), as well as other highly sought after national fellowships.

UQ economics researchers work with a wide network of partners: international collaborations include renowned groups from Chicago, Harvard, University of California (UCLA and UC Davis), Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, New York University, the Wharton School, University of Groningen, and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Research in Economics is concentrated in the School of Economics with collaboration from researchers in:

  • Faculty of Business, Economics and Law
  • Global Change Institute
  • Institute for Social Science Research 

UQ has particular expertise in the areas of:

  • Economic Theory
  • Applied Economics
  • Econometrics

Economics in brief

  • More than 50 full-time equivalent researchers
  • 20 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 520 publications since 2008
  • More than $18.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • Economic Theory research rated at the highest level – ‘well above world standard’ – in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise.

Highlights of UQ Economics

Economic theory

Economic theory studies the foundations of strategic behaviour (game theory), individual behaviour under uncertainty (decision theory), the analysis of economy-wide production, distribution and welfare (general equilibrium theory), and the study of individual markets (mechanisms of design and auction theory).

  • Game theory research has contributed to an increased understanding of the complexity of computation of equilibria in two-person games by improving underlying theorems. These games can be applied to issues in economic geography such as endogenous residential segregation.
  • In decision theory, researchers have developed decision-making tools for complex environments. A central goal is to integrate rules, for example the precautionary principle, with the more formal approach adopted in cost-benefit analysis.
  • In general equilibrium theory, UQ research has introduced new concepts for understanding perfectly competitive economies. The focus is on describing how prices deal with information when there are many more consumers and producers than markets: this work goes some way to giving a coherent understanding of financial crises and the role of government.
  • Market design research examines markets that have not traditionally been used for allocating resources and distributing production. These include the allocation of the electromagnetic spectrum for mobile telecommunication, assigning exploration rights for natural resources (such as timber or oil/gas) and government procurement of goods and services.  

 Applied economics

Applied economics at UQ boasts some of Australia’s leading economists who interact regularly with national media and policy makers on key economic matters of national and international significance.

  • Applied economics research has made significant contributions to our understanding of the environment, electoral processes, happiness and health, developing economies, labour markets, experimental, public and macro economics.
  • The Energy Economics and Management Group (EEMG) is a well-established national centre with extensive collaboration with industry and has been centrally involved in two major CSIRO Clusters: iGRID and Future Grid. EEMG advises policymakers through projects funded by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE), and ARENA.
  • The Risk and Sustainable Management Group researches the problems of sustainably managing environmental resources, climate change adaption and mitigation, and the role of risk and uncertainty. Of particular note is the key role played by the Group in assessing the impact of climate change on the Murray-Darling Basin, which contributed to the development of policy for its sustainable management.
  • The Development Economics Group focuses on understanding and providing policy relevant research to improve the economies of developing countries. The Group has engaged in projects aiming to understand the determinants, motives and channels of remittances of Pacific Island workers in Australia and to provide inputs into policy debates on Australian and international migration. 


Econometrics researchers routinely provide advice on economic measurement to international organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations, the World Bank, Eurostat, the Asian Development Bank and Australian State and Commonwealth departments, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), Treasury and the Productivity Commission.

Current research highlights include:

  • Centre for Efficiency and Productivity Analysis (CEPA): CEPA has an international reputation and is the only centre of its kind in the world. Its pioneering work helps develop measures of productivity, providing economic insights into performance of firms or other producer entities. This research has led to techniques used in the analysis of agricultural data for the US, Denmark, Finland, and the OECD.
  • Developing an econometric methodology to construct consistent panels of purchasing power parities and real incomes covering 180 countries from 1970 to 2010. Researchers provide advice on international comparisons to the World Bank, the OECD and the Asian and African Development Banks.
  • Bayesian and semiparametric approaches to stochastic frontiers and productivity measurement; and panel methods for missing data and analysis of bilateral trade.
  • Contributing to the development of econometric methodologies to study and model the unique features of health economics and health care. Applications of these methods relate to the interrelationships between health insurance and different types of health care use such as hospital and ambulatory care, emergency room visits, and prescription drug use.
  • Developing new econometric methods for the construction of housing price indices and their components, land and structure, providing estimates of the effect of flooding risk on property values.
  • Developing an econometric framework to improve policy advice and macroeconomic forecasts for unobservable or difficult to measure factors such as technology.