PhD studentship available; health economics of green space

Rich Mitchell and Andy Briggs (Glasgow Uni) have a PhD studentship available.

There is growing interest in whether contact with ‘green spaces’, including forests and parks, carries health benefits. Both Scottish and UK public health policy documents now explicitly recognise green spaces as ‘good for health’. The evidence for these effects stems from both experimental studies in lab and field, and from population level observational studies. Several experimental studies demonstrate direct effects of perceiving these environments on a variety of physiological and psychological measures. Several observational studies show independent associations between greener environments and better population health. However, this is an emerging field of research with much work still to do to confirm, quantify and qualify any positive impacts on health. If it is true that contact with nature brings health benefits, the cost of providing and accessing such environments, the subsequent health benefits and the relative merits of such ‘environmental health care’ need to be weighed carefully.

The Forestry Commission and other forest agencies are engaged in many programmes of woodland improvement and creation, with the explicit aim of increasing the use of woodlands and prompting health benefits. These programmes provide useful natural experiments through which health impacts of environmental interventions might be assessed. However, the specifics of how any health economic analysis might be applied to these situations are not clear. The prevailing methodology employed in health economic evaluation, is to use ‘Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs)’ to measure health benefits of interventions in favour of the more traditional monetary measures typically used for economic appraisal in areas such as environmental and transport economics. While the QALY framework may be appropriate for Health Related Quality of Life benefits of interventions relating to the woodland environment, the broader evaluative framework offered by cost-benefit analysis might be more appropriate for the broader wellbeing aspects of the environment.

The purpose of the PhD project will be to explore the potential use of economic appraisal techniques to value and evaluate woodland interventions. A broad perspective will be adopted to explore the potential to use and combine methods from environmental, health and transport economics.

Funding Notes:

Person specification:

Applicants should hold a first class or upper second class degree in economics and preferably have demonstrable interest in, and experience of health economics. A master’s qualification in a relevant discipline would be an advantage.

Award details:

This is a 3 year full time studentship and will provide an annual stipend and fees. The award is available to UK and other EU nationals only.


How to Apply – Please send a full CV including the contact details of 2 referees and a covering letter explaining why you are particularly suitable for this post via email to Prof Richard Mitchell ( and Professor Andy Briggs (

Further details: More details on the project, the supervisors and the departments involved is available from Professor Richard Mitchell (, Professor Andy Briggs (

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