UNSW economist receives prestigious Paul Bourke Award for early career research

26 Nov 2021
Dr Tim Neal

Tim Neal has been recognised for his insights into the economics of climate change, COVID-19 panic buying and child labour.

Dr Timothy Neal at UNSW Business School and the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) has received a 2021 Paul Bourke Award. The Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) early career research award recognises some of Australia’s best emerging social science researchers.

The 2021 Paul Bourke Award has been awarded to Dr Neal in recognition of his “new insights into the economics of climate change, COVID-19 panic buying and child labour, among other areas”.

“I feel highly honoured to have been chosen by the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia to receive this prestigious award,” Dr Neal said.

“I really appreciate the senior colleagues who have supported me so much in my career thus far, and hope that receiving this award encourages current students of economics to consider applying the tools they are learning to important and urgent problems in environmental economics.”

Academy President Professor Jane Hall said the 2021 recipients were selected from an extremely talented field of applicants.

“They are deserving winners of this award and join a very select list of previous recipients, many of whom have gone on to make substantial contributions to society,” she said.

Professor Sven Rogge, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, at UNSW, congratulated Dr Neal on the award.

“Tim Neal is an outstanding emerging economist, destined to become one of Australia’s distinguished academics,” Prof. Rogge said. “His creative and innovative research in areas of policy and equity will play an important role in solving urgent issues facing Australia and the world.”

Dr Neal’s primary research interests include panel data econometrics and deep learning, more specifically the methodologies that economists use to untangle complex relationships in the economy from observational data. He has published in leading economics journals in areas as diverse as the impacts of climate change, panic buying during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of child work on cognitive development of children, and insurance choice in complex markets.

In a statement about Dr Neal the Academy said, “In the years following his PhD, he demonstrated his extraordinary gift for methodological innovation and creative use of new (sometimes big) data sources, to generate a truly impressive early portfolio of top tier publications. He exemplifies the best instincts of an applied academic economist: concern with policy issues, which motivates the topics he chooses to study, and equity, which was the underpinning of his PhD.”

Dr Neal completed his PhD in Economics at UNSW in 2016, after receiving both a Research Excellence Award and Australian Postgraduate Award at the University in 2013. He also brings experience from his work at Ernst and Young, where he was an economist for two years before returning to academe. The Academy’s statement said, “This experience [EY] has further broadened the resources he will deploy for an influential future, and has honed his instincts for relevance in rigorous policy analysis.”

The Paul Bourke Award is named in honour of the late Professor Paul Bourke, a political historian who was president of the ASSA from 1993 to 1997. The four 2021 Paul Bourke Award recipients will give public talks on their research in Social Sciences Week 2022.