Sarah Brown 201006sarahbrown.jpg

Professor of Economics

Room 531
Tel +44 (0)114 222 3404
Fax +44 (0)114 222 3458




Sarah graduated from the University of Hull in 1989 and gained her MA in Economics at the University of Warwick in 1990 and her PhD from the University of Loughborough and was appointed to a lectureship there in 1994. Sarah was promoted to a senior lectureship in 2001 at the University of Leicester. She took up a Chair in Economics at the University of Sheffield in 2005 and was Head of Department from 2006 to 2011.

Sarah is a director of the Institute for Economic Analysis of Decision-making (InstEAD). She is a Research Fellow at the IZA (Institute for the Study of Labour, Bonn) and an Associate Fellow at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI). She has been a member of the Department of Work and Pensions Steering Committee for the Work, Pensions and Labour Economics Study Group (WPEG) since 2001. Sarah was a member of the Grant Assessment Panel C of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) from 2010 to 2013, a member of the REF 2014 Economics & Econometrics Sub-Panel and a member of the Women's Committee of the Royal Economic Society from 2010 to 2015.

In 2012 Sarah was awarded a two-year Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for a project entitled Household Finances, Intergenerational Attitudes and Social Interaction.

Sarah is also currently a member of:

  • the Steering Group of the Conference of Heads of University Departments of Economics
  • the Royal Economics Society Council

In March 2015, Sarah was appointed as an Independent Member of the Low Pay Commission.



"I currently teach microeconomic analysis which explores the behaviour of individuals, households and firms, and their interactions. It is particularly important to understand how such agents make decisions and how they respond to changes in their environment from the perspective of economic policy. For example, microeconomic analysis can be used to inform the Bank of England in predicting how households may alter their consumption and savings decisions in the context of interest rates changes.

"Similarly, when setting prices for their goods and services, it is important for firms to predict how consumer demand responds to such price setting. Microeconomic analysis can thus be applied to decision-making by many different agents and in many different contexts. My approach to teaching entails not only introducing students to traditional as well as recent advances in microeconomic analysis but also to develop critical evaluation skills so that students can assess alternative theories and consider possible areas of improvement.

"This approach to teaching explicitly links teaching and research. Students are not just presented with a fixed set of theories – they are encouraged to discuss ways of expanding and improving on them so that they learn about and engage with the process of research."


Research summary and PhD student supervision

Sarah's research interests lie in the area of applied microeconometrics focusing on labour economics, the economics of education and, more recently, household financial decision-making. Her research has focused on individual, household and firm-level data as well as matched workplace-employee data.

Examples of research projects include empirical analysis of the reservation wages of the unemployed (funded by the ESRC) and empirical analysis of wage growth, human capital and risk aversion (funded by the Leverhulme Trust). Her current research focuses on household financial decision-making and attitudes towards risk. Sarah is interested in supervising PhD students in applied microeconometrics.

Publications since 2008