UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows 2017: Matteo Sandi

We are delighted to announce Matteo Sandi @McmSandi as one of our UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows for 2017. Matteo is a Research Economist at the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Matteo joined LSE in October 2015 and his current fields of research are the economics of crime and the economics of education.

In my research, I study the impact of policing on crime, the determinants of youth crime, and the effect of discipline in school on the desire and possibility to engage in youth crime. Prior to joining LSE, in September 2011 I started my ESRC-funded PhD in Economics at the University of Sussex. My PhD thesis comprised four empirical essays on the economic returns to migration and education. My migration chapters find migration to be an effective response to economic downturns. My education chapters reconcile prior estimates of the financial return to education in the literature, and provide a robust case for a six percent rate of return to education for men.

During my PhD I have taught for three years at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. I taught modules of Introductory Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, Advanced Microeconomics, and Economic History. Since May 2014, during my PhD I have consulted the World Bank Group. Since 2011, I have also contributed to the development and commercialization of Tradesift, a software package that analyses international trade flows and generates informative diagnostic indicators of international trade. I delivered training courses on the use of Tradesift in England, Nigeria, Burundi, Uganda, Myanmar, Nepal and Vanuatu. Prior to enrolling in the PhD, in 2009/10 I pursued an MSc Development Economics at the University of Sussex. My MSc dissertation was graded 95/100. Before enrolling in the MSc at the University of Sussex, I pursued a bachelor degree in Economics at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan (Italy.)

I am currently conducting a study that investigates whether, in a setting where schools operate under competitive pressure, increased school autonomy may lead schools to try to shape their pool of test-taking students via disciplinary sanctions. This is a joint project with Prof. Steve Machin (LSE). Using data from the National Pupil Database (NPD), this question is examined for secondary schools in England, where the headline figure by which secondary schools are ranked in the annually published league tables is the percentage of pupils getting five or more grade A* to C examination results in the final year of compulsory schooling (at age 16). While in England it is not easy to manipulate pupils’ GCSE performance, one possibility that has received public attention from opponents to academy schools in England is that the greater autonomy with which these schools operate has offered a means to manipulate their results by differentially excluding poorly performing pupils from their on-roll lists. In this study, this claim is appraised and we present causal estimates of the impact of the academy enrolment on permanent exclusion in Year 11, i.e., the final year of compulsory schooling in England.

I am planning to attend academic conferences where I will present this research and further write a short article in an accessible format on Centrepiece, the magazine of the CEP (LSE) that we use to communicate the research of our centre to the general audience. In particular, I plan to attend the Asian and Australasian Society of Labour Economics (AASLE) Inaugural Conference at the Australian National University in Canberra (Australia) on the 7-9 December 2017 (See This is an excellent conference that brings together scholars in the field of Labour Economics, and I intend to use the financial support from UK Data Service to present my research at this event.

I plan to utilise financial support from the UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows Programme also to conduct a research project that investigates the impact of school exclusions on the desire and possibility of the juveniles to commit crime. For this project, I will use linked administrative data on education and crime from Queensland (Australia) and I plan to do the data analysis in Brisbane (Australia) in December 2017. This is a joint research project with Dr. Tony Beatton (University of Queensland), Prof. Michael Kidd (RMIT University) and Dr. Anthony Niu (RMIT University).

Finally, using data from UK Data Service, I intend to study the interplay between prices, policing and policy in the determination of metal theft. I aim to conduct this research with Dr. Tom Kirchmaier (LSE), Prof. Steve Machin (LSE), and Prof. Rob Witt (University of Surrey). Largely driven by the demand for raw materials from China and other fast-growing economies, the 2000s commodities boom pushed upwards the prices of many physical commodities from 2000 to 2014. Possibly as a result, in the same years Britain experienced a steep surge in metal theft; driven by the greater incentive to steal and sell metal, metal thieves may have started to steal more metal and cables. By 2011, the scale of metal theft in the country reached unprecedented levels, and, as a response by the British Transport Police, an Identification Measures Trial called “Operation Tornado” started in 2012 in the police force areas of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland. By the 28 February 2013, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (SMDA) was enacted and its implementation carried out by October 2013. This scenario provides an ideal setting to investigate empirically the respective roles of prices, policing and policy in the determination of metal theft.

Our study will use data from UK Data Service and it will be divided in three parts. In part one of our study, we will do aggregate time-series analysis of the impact of metal prices on metal theft in Great Britain. In part two of our study, we will assess the effectiveness of the policing response to the rise in 2011 in metal theft, i.e., Operation Tornado. In part three of our study, we will assess the consequences for businesses in Britain of the SMDA 2013, that came into force in October 2013 and that superseded the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. Amongst other things, the SMDA 2013 introduced new provisions for the issuance and revocation of a scrap metal licence, for the verification of scrap metal suppliers’ identities and it introduced the offence of buying scrap metal for cash[1]. We will investigate whether and how this reform affected the economic activity of those businesses in Britain that were directly exposed to it.

To this end, we will use a variety of UK Data Service datasets, such as the Annual Business Survey (ABS), the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), the Prices Survey Microdata and the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. I plan to present our preliminary results for this study to academic conferences and, for this, I intend to use the necessary financial support from the UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows Programme.

[1] A complete description of the provisions of the SMDA 2013 is publicly available at the following link:

Follow Matteo’s journey as a #DataImpactFellows @UKDSImpact @McmSandi

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