Research Impact

  • • Income Contingent Loans Policy
  • • Labour Economics
  • • The Economics of Education (Higher Education Student Financing)
  • • Economic Policy
  • • Applied Econometrics
  • • The Economics of Crime
  • • The Economics of Sport

There are too many grants to document them all here. Only grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC) are shown after 1998.

  • • 2012-2016: ARC Linkage Grant, Government as Risk Manager (with Universities Australia and DPUniversity, Thailand), $470,000.
  • • 2006-2009: ARC Discovery Grant, Chief Investigator, The Determinants of University Participation: Why Aren’t the Poor There?, $550,000, (with Buly Cardak and Vince Martin, Deakin University).
  • • 2006-2007: ARC Learned Academies’ Grant, Income Contingent Loans for Public Policy: Applications to Child Care, Paid Maternity Leave and R & D Financing, $110,000 for 2006-07 (with Tim Higgins and Glenn Withers, ANU).
  • • 2003-2007: ARC Discovery Grant, Chief Investigator, Literacy and Numeracy Effects on Schooling and Labour Market Success, $350,000 (with Chris Ryan, SPEAR, ANU).
  • • AUSTUDY Loans Supplement Lessons for Canadian Employment Insurance arrangements, $1500 in 1998, for Human Resources Development Canada (with Tom Crossley).
  • • Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, $2100 in 1998, to examine labour market adjustment processes of Australian immigrants using the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants in Australia (with Deborah Cobb-Clark).
  • • Government of Papua New Guinea, $4700 in 1996, to explore the potential for the introduction of an income contingent charge for university education in that country.
  • • US Department of Education, $4000 in 1988-90, to investigate youth training labour markets, 1988-90 (with Hong W. Tan).
  • • Western Australian Labour Market Research Centre, $4000 in 1990, to investigate the labour market outcomes of Vietnamese, Lebanese and Maltese immigrants in Australia (with Thorsten Stromback, Peter Dawkins and Shane Busche-Jones).
  • • Reserve Bank of Australia, $5000 in 1989-90, to analyse the aggregate Australian labour market over the 1980s.
  • • Office of Multicultural Affairs, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, $5000 in 1989, to investigate the success of immigrant groups in the Australian labour market (with Robyn R. Iredale).
  • • Office of EPAC, $8,000 in 1987, to report on the medium-term prospects for the Australian labour market (with Steve Dowrick and Bob Gregory).
  • • Australian Institute of Family Studies, $10,000 for 1987-88 to investigate the wage consequences of child-rearing (with John J. Beggs and Steve Happel).
  • • Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, $5,000 in 1985, to investigate the labour economics of immigration (with David Pope and Glenn Withers).
  • • Bureau of Labour Market Research, $500 in 1984, to investigate labour economics in the Australian Secondary Schools Curricula.
  • • Bureau of Labour Market Research, $500 in 1983, to outline the use of panel data to test labour market hypotheses.
  • • Bureau of Labour Market Research, $3,385 in 1983-84, to investigate issues of labour turnover in the Australian Public Service.

1. While working as a consultant to the Minister for Employment, Education and Training in 1987-89 Bruce prepared an options paper on university funding which outlined the advantages of an income contingent loan (ICL) for higher education financing, and this led to the institution of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme in 1989. It was the world’s first national income contingent charging system for higher education. Other countries have since introduced a variant of HECS, including New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, and Ethiopia, and several countries, including the UK and Thailand, are introducing ICL in 2006 or shortly afterwards. Bruce has been an advisor on ICL to the governments of most of the above countries, and was particularly involved in the reforms in the UK, Israel and Thailand. With the World Bank and other agencies Bruce has been engaged on this issue with the governments/academics of Papua New Guinea (1996), Malaysia (1998), Ethiopia (2000), Rwanda (2001-02), Nepal (2002), Mexico (2003), Colombia (2003), Thailand (1996-2006), the UK (1997-2006), Israel (2005) and Germany (2005).

2. In 1992 Bruce was engaged by the Federal Government to help redesign AUSTUDY, the Australian student income support program. Bruce’s report suggested that a new loan option involving the trade-in of some grants for an ICL should be developed, and this led to the AUSTUDY Loans Supplement, introduced in 1993 (discontinued in 2004).

3. Labour market programs and the long term unemployed. In 1991-94 Bruce wrote a series of papers concerning the size and associated problem of the emerging long term unemployment issue, and this led to both increased targeting and setting up of the committee which developed the Working Nation labour market programs of 1994-96. Bruce was engaged in the process that led to similar reforms in the UK in the 1997-99 period.

4. HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP. In 2003-05 the Parliament held several inquiries into higher education, and Bruce was invited to write submissions and appear as Expert Witness. He analysed some of the problems with higher education funding and offered suggestions concerning changes to the design parameters of both HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP. Most of these were adopted in 2005.

5. Dr Timothy Higgins and Bruce wrote a paper researching the impact of the Government’s proposed changes to HELP interest rates in the 2014/05 budget, which has been reported as changing the policy position back to the original regime of HECS, a position we illustrated to be much more equitable.

Over this period it is possible to collect information on the number of times scholars are reported in the Australian press. Excluding newspaper articles authored, Bruce’s number is 325, which is the highest of all current Academic economists (although Bob Gregory, Economics, RSSS, ANU), who has recently retired, totalled 335). In the Group of Eight (which employs at least 200 economists) there are only four who exceed a count of 200: Chapman, 325; Andrew Leigh, 282 (SPEAR, RSSS, ANU); John Quiggin (University of Queensland, 276; and Peter Dawkins (formerly the Melbourne Institute), 207. If own authored pieces are added back the top four remain the same but the order is changed, the counts being: Quiggin, 479; Chapman, 342; Leigh, 333, and Dawkins, 272. The topics Bruce has been reported on are: HECS; student loans policies; long term unemployment; labour market programs; the economics of crime; income contingent loans for athletes; the forgone earnings from child rearing income contingent loans for white collar crime; the economics of Don Bradman; strike activity; paid maternity leave and drought relief policy. Since 2006 there has been a very considerable increase in this number and while not all of the data is available, it is very likely that Bruce is the most cited academic economist in Australia.

Note: This is the only period for which the data is available. 

In this period Bruce’s research was reported in the Australian Parliament on 92 occasions. This is the highest number for all currently employed Australian academic economists (although Professor Bob Gregory, recently retired from the Economics program, RSSS, ANU, has a count of 103). The next highest number is Professor John Quiggin, University of Queensland), who has 72. The policy and research areas in which Bruce’s work has been reported include: strikes and the Accord; long term unemployment, Working Nation; HECS; AUSTUDY; the 2003 planned changes to university financing; industrial relations; paid maternity leave; and drought relief policy.

Bruce currently has around 3,700 Google Scholar citations and is in the top 8 per cent of REPEC (economics) citations internationally. 

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