Shaping Protective Behaviour: Optimising the Communication of Climate Change Health Statistics

Supervised by Dr Allan Beltran and Professor Michalis Drouvelis together with Office for National Statistics

To apply for this project, please include ‘Beltran & Office for National Statistics’ as the project descriptor in the subject heading of your email. 

Effectively communicating health risks to motivate timely preventative actions is essential to minimise escalating climate change attributable disease burdens and associated costs. The PhD student will contribute to a landmark £5 million project led by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) and funded by the Wellcome Trust, titled "Standards for Official Statistics on Climate and Health Interactions." Working alongside partners such as the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Rwanda, the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana, the Cochrane Climate-Health Working Group at the University of Alberta, Canada and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The project aims to develop statistical techniques using real-world data to better understand local climate-related health risks. The PhD student will contribute to this project by identifying evidence-based strategies for effectively communicating climate-related health risk statistics to optimise protective behaviour among vulnerable populations. The findings will inform policy recommendations and promote behavioural changes that ultimately save lives, improve public health outcomes, and reduce the burden on health systems. 

The PhD student will be jointly supervised by Dr Michalis Drouvelis and Dr Allan Beltran from the Department of Economics at the University of Birmingham (UoB) and Dr Vijendra Ingole from the ONS, while being based at UoB. The programme will have a duration of four years starting in September 2024, and students must successfully complete compulsory advanced-level modules in their first semester, including Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Econometrics, and Research Methods. 

The PhD candidate will collaborate closely with the ONS over the four-year studentship. In-person meetings facilitated by the ONS, covering transport and accommodations for the candidate, are envisioned to take place quarterly at the ONS Headquarters in Newport to enable in-depth coordination and integration with the broader climate-health statistics project. There may also be an opportunity to visit our collaborating institutions Ghana and Rwanda. 

We are looking for a highly talented and dedicated PhD student with a 1st class or 2:1 degree in the field of Economics, Statistics or a related quantitative discipline. An MSc degree in a relevant area such as Behavioural Economics, Health Economics, or Data Science, is desirable though not necessary. Previous experience with research related to risk communication, climate change, public health, or statistical analysis is desirable. 

Informal enquiries about the project prior to application can be directed to Dr Allan Beltran –