Prof. Peter Howley has worked as an economist for an agricultural/rural development agency in Galway, Ireland (Teagasc), a lecturer, and then subsequently Senior Lecturer in Economics within the Environment Department at the University of York. He took up a position as an Associate Professor in the Economics Division at the University of Leeds (UoL) in May 2018 and was promoted to full Professor in December 2019. While an economist by training, his research is eclectic and interdisciplinary.
In recent times, much of Prof. Howley’s focus has been on the “economics of happiness”, and this work typically involves using indicators of subjective well-being as a proxy utility indicator. He then generally develops panel-data models, sometimes coupled with quasi-experimental methods, in order to explore the influence of factors as diverse as diet and immigration on people’s self-reported well-being. Of particular relevance in the current political climate, he leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers on a project funded by the Nuffield foundation concerned with determining the relationship between immigration and people’s self-reported well-being. Some of their initial findings are summarised here. He is also involved in a project exploring the mental health consequences associated with Covid-19, summarised here.
Apart from a quest to better understand the factors that can improve our quality of life, more recently Prof. Howley has begun to explore the potential of using perceived well-being as a framework to help us better understand social and economic behaviour. This ranges from Brexit and labour market hysteresis to farmers’ reluctance to adopt certain efficiency-enhancing farm practices.