Cultures, Communities and Society – Researcher Spotlight

Shaping government policy and effecting transformative change is what drives the work of our researchers and academics. As lead of a landmark study that aims to improve the quality of life among older people, renowned economics expert Professor David Bell, of the University of Stirling Management School is very much at the forefront of this approach. 

woman and child with phone

David Bell

Professor Bell has been Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling since 1990, specialising in labour economics, the economics of ageing and the economics of constitutional change. His work was recognised when he was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to economics and public policy. As leader of the Healthy Ageing in Scotland (HAGIS) study – conducted by the University of Stirling – Professor Bell improves the lives of Scotland’s older population by providing policymakers with a comprehensive insight into the economic, health and social circumstances of people over 50.

Vitality in later life

The HAGIS study, which involves collaborative working across faculties, has collected data from 1,000 Scots aged 50 and above – providing a wealth of information that will inform, influence and support the debate around how the country addresses the challenges faced by its ageing population. “HAGIS is a longitudinal survey of ageing in Scotland and is also part of a worldwide network of such surveys,” said Professor Bell. “It offers valuable experience for PhD students because it provides opportunities for study across a number of different disciplines including economics, psychology, applied social science, and health and sport. The study is also helping to shape government policy and is investigating new scientific areas associated with data analysis.”

Nurturing new talent

Together with his colleague Dr Alasdair Rutherford, of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Bell is co-supervising two PhD students who are working on ageing and administrative data. “We agree on objectives for the students and review them at regular intervals,” he said. “We work closely together and ensure we are on hand when necessary. This could be to direct them to literature or learning that would help them in their work, or develop their networks by putting them in contact with people - including those in academia, the Government or Third Sector organisations. A key benefit of being at the University of Stirling is the close contact with members of staff. It’s compact and focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to research. This, along with it’s fantastic facilities and extensive research opportunities, make Stirling the perfect breeding ground for new ideas and innovations.”