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Published Papers

Published Papers


Top of the Class: The Importance of Ordinal Rank (2020 Review of Economic Studies)​

Joint with Felix Weinhardt (DIW-Berlin). It estimates the importance of a student's rank among their classmates during primary school on their investments and actions during secondary school. NBER Working Paper w24958  (2018) CESifo Working Paper WP4815 (2014)



The Implications of Pupil Rank for Achievement (2023 Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Economics and Finance)​

Joint with Felix Weinhardt. We summaries the growing rank literature, and provide a practitioners guide to estimating rank effects. 



Why Unions Survive: Understanding How Unions Overcome The Free-Rider Problem  (2020 Journal of Labor Economics)

​I document the continued demand for unions in regions where right-to-work legislation is enforced. It shows that the union acting as a form of legal insurance for its members maintains the private  demand for it's services. CESifo Working Paper 

Long-Run Rank

"Class Rank and Long-run Outcomes” (2023 Review of Economics and Statistics)

Joint with Jeff Denning and Felix Weinhardt we contribute to the rank literature in three ways; 1) conceptually - documenting new threats and solutions for identification; 2) empirically - estimating long run effects on earnings; 3)  practically - implications for optimal classroom composition and school choice. 

NBER Working Paper 27468   IZA Working Paper

Student Mis-Match

"Matching in the Dark? Inequalities in student to degree match ” (2022 Journal of Labour Economics)

Joint with Stuart Campbell, Lindsey Macmillan, and Gill Wyness we create a new continuous measure of mismatch between student quality and university quality using linked administrative data from schools, universities and tax authorities. Students from lower socio-economic groups, and females systematically undermatch for both measures across the entire distribution of achievement, (CEPEO Working Paper

Student Financial Aid

"Testing Means Tested Aid” (2023 Journal Of Labor Economics)

Joint with Gill Wyness using jumps and kinks in unpromoted university aid schedules, we find enrolled students gain from university aid, even in a system with no-upfront tuition-fees and generous state aid. Consistent with students continuing to be credit constrained, we find high scoring & low-income students benefit the most. Implying that purely means-tested aid programs are less cost effective, than those that take ability into account. We use our estimates to calculate outcome maximizing, and cost minimizing financial aid schedules, for each university in our sample given their student demographics.  (CESifo Working Paper

Mobile Phones

Ill communication: Mobile Phones and Student Performance (2016 Labour Economics)

Joint with Louis Philippe Beland. We estimate the impact of banning mobile phones in schools on student performance, finding large impact among previously low achieving students. This has received considerable media attention internationally and is forming the basis for English policy regarding phones in school.

Teacher Pay Scales

"Deregulating Teacher Labor Markets” (2022 Economics of Education Review)

Joint with Simon Burgess and Ellen Greaves we explore the consequences of removal of teacher pay scales in England. Using variation across local labour market wages, we find schools in markets with better outside options for teachers have relatively higher teacher pay progression, spending on teachers, teacher retention and student performance due to the reform. Consistent with a compensating wage differentials these effects are largest for schools with a more disadvantaged demographic. We also find that the gender wage gap increases after the pay scales have been removed. 


Paying Out? Crowding Out? The Globalisation of Higher Education (2017 Journal of Economic Geography)

Joint with Stephen Machin (London School of Economics). It estimates if there is a crowding-out or crowding-in effect from the very large increase in the number of international students at universities in the UK.

UK HE Reforms

"The end of free college in England:
Implications for quality, enrolments, and equity” 
(2019 Economics of Education Review)

Joint with Gill Wyness (University College London) and Judith Scott Clayton. How have the reforms of the UK Higher Educational System, taking it from a low-fee low-aid system to a high-fee high-aid, impacted the sector in terms of quality, enrollment and access.  (NBER Working Paper)   

Teacher Training

"Who Teaches the Teachers? A RCT of Peer-To-Peer Observation and Feedback in 181 Schools” (2021 Economics of Education Review)

Joint with Gill Wyness and Felix Weinhardt we use a RCT to estimate the  impact of a widely used teacher peer-to-peer training program. We find a meaningful zero average effect. This masks a significant heterogeneity, with positive (negative) effects in large (small) schools, which we explore possible mechanisms.  (IZA Working Paper

Working Papers

Working Papers
Murphy, R. J.R. Stansfield and G. Wyness “Teaching to the Test: The Long Run Impacts of Standardized Testing on Student Outcomes”

“Atheism and Economic Prosperity: The long run impacts of a national ban on religions” joint with Telhaj, Shqiponja (University of Sussex)

“Teacher Unionisation in the UK” a book chapter with Peter Dolton (University of Sussex)


Green, F., Machin, S., Murphy, R., and Zhu, Y. (2012) “The Changing Economic Advantage from Private Schools” Economica, Vol.79, No.316, pp.658 – 679


Green, F., Machin, S., Murphy, R., and Zhu, Y. (2008) “Competition for private and state school teachers” Journal of Education and Work, Vol. 21, No.5, pp. 383-404


Murphy, R. (2014) “The Causes and Consequences of the Growth in International Students in Higher Education” Book Chapter: From Mobility of Students to Mobility of High-Skilled, Editors: Marcel Gérard and Silke Uebelmesser. Series: CESifo Seminar Series, MIT Press, pp.257-286

Policy Papers

Murphy, R. (2013) “Testing Teachers: What works best for teacher evaluation and appraisal”, The Sutton Trust


Murphy, R. (2011) “Improving the impact of teachers on pupil achievement in the UK”, The Sutton Trust


Machin, S. and R. Murphy (2010) “The social composition and future earnings of postgraduates”, Postgraduate Review


Machin, S., R. Murphy, and Z. Soobedar (2010) “Differences in the labour market gains from qualifications” National Equality Panel Report


Machin, S., R. Murphy, and Z. Soobedar (2010) “Differences in labour market gains from higher education participation” National Equality Panel Report

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