I’m completing a PhD in economics, but my work is inter-disciplinary, combining philosophy, psychology, economics and policy. Hence why I am in a policy school rather than an economics department.
I have two principle research interests. The first is wellbeing and how to adapt policy thinking and design to better serve it as an end. I am currently completing a book that seeks to define wellbeing in terms of whether life is pleasant, fulfilling and valuable. It is written mostly for a philosophical audience, and builds on my two working papers - “The Coalescence of Being: Solving the problem of despair with insights from modern psychology” (under review at Philosophical Psychology) and “Happiness Research has an Equivalence Problem: Towards an integrated theory” (under review at Philosopher’s Imprint). My PhD explores how to make wellbeing useful to economics. A major component is a critical reflection on contemporary approaches to measuring wellbeing (c.f. my paper “Scale-norming is a concern for subjective wellbeing research: evidence from a new metric”, under review at Journal of Economic Psychology).
My second principle research interest is hybrid policy design. The term “Hybrids” was coined by Professor Robert Breunig and I to describe policies that combine government, market and community tools to arrive at bipartisan outcomes. An example is the Danish flexicurity system of industrial relations. The market is left deregulated to ensure the efficient allocation of labour, but the government operates around the market to ensure income security by providing unemployment insurance and financing for retraining. Corporatist cooperation between government, employers, unions and education institutions provides outcomes typically associated with community-based delivery of policy, notably a sense of agency and good-faith negotiation. Such sophisticated policy designs can achieve equity and efficiency without requiring major trade-offs to be made. Our edited volume - Hybrid Public Policy Innovations: Contemporary policy beyond ideology - was published by Routledge in April of 2018. I am presently working on adapting ideas from the volume for journal publication.
I am a development economist by training and maintain a side interest in the subject, especially in industrial policy, the political economy of structural reform, and the middle-income trap. I also maintain a side interest in areas of economics related to gender. I have worked for the East Asia Forum since 2011, which has given me an expertise in Asian economics, politics and development.
At the Crawford School I teach basic economics to policy students, development economics to economists, and the school’s flagship course “Governments, markets and global change”, which is an interdisciplinary course in applied policy. I have excellent student satisfaction scores (averaging above 4.5/5) and I was nominated for a teaching award in 2017. I care deeply about pedagogy and take most opportunities to improve my teaching skills and learn from leaders in the field. I find the lack of attention to pedagogy at most top universities deplorable and consider it a real threat to the long-term financial sustainability of the sector. People will not pay $25000 p.a. to have their tutors say “question 6 is easy so I’ll just leave it to you”, for example.
I also care deeply about making academic research relevant and accessible to a lay audience. As such, I write fairly regularly for popular fora including the East Asia Forum and Quillette, as well as my blog, markfabian.blogspot.com. I intend to write popular versions of my PhD research and our hybrids volume between finishing my dissertation and starting at a new job.
Supervisor(s) and panel members
I argue that subjective well-being scholarship (SWB) has opened valuable new vistas in wellbeing research over the past four decades or so. However, owing to its operationalist epistemology, it cannot effectively advance into areas it now wants to influence, notably welfare economics and public policy. It must first adopt a more realist epistemology, which begins with a deep theory of wellbeing, including its causal structure. I provide this theory—the production function model of wellbeing—drawing on ideas in clinical, hedonic, moral, behavioural and developmental psychology, and both analytical and continental philosophy. The individual components of this theory have empirical backing, but the model of wellbeing that it gives rise to produces some inferences that are not verified by subjective well-being data. In particular, the model would suggest that people can experience sustained improvements in subjective wellbeing over the life course, but this is rarely what we see in life satisfaction data in advanced nations. This discrepancy motivates an investigation in the final chapters as to whether life satisfaction measures might suffer from issues of scale norming driven by ceiling effects. This would explain the discrepancy between the model’s inferences and what we see in the data. I provide theoretical arguments and empirical evidence from a novel life satisfaction plotting metric that lends credence to this hypothesis. This leads me to argue that the field should experiment with alternate metrics for measuring life satisfaction and evaluated wellbeing more generally. I discuss some possible options.
- Fabian, M. and Breunig, R. (eds.) (2018). ‘Hybrid Public Policy Innovations: Contemporary Policy Beyond Ideology’, London, UK: Routledge
- Fabian, M. (2018). ‘The Ends and Means of Public Policy’ in Fabian, M. and Breunig, R. (eds.) (2018). ‘Hybrid Public Policy Innovations: Contemporary Policy Beyond Ideology’, London, UK: Routledge
- Fabian, M. and Breunig, R. (Forthcoming), ‘Long work-hours and job satisfaction: do overworkers get trapped in bad jobs?’, in Social Science Quarterly
- Fabian, M. (forthcoming), ‘Racing from Subjective Well-Being to Public Policy: A Review of The Origins of Happiness’. Journal of Happiness Studies
- ‘Paying overwork: What it’s worth’, in Solutions, vol. 6 No. 1, 2015
- ‘What Asia’s experience can teach us about happiness’ in East Asia Forum Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 3
- Fabian, M. ‘The Coalescence of Being: Solving the problem of despair with insights from modern psychology’, under review at Philosophical Psychology. Available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3010028
- Fabian, M. ‘A Happiness Production Function: Insights from taking a practical perspective”, under review at Philosophical Studies, available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3040632
- Fabian, M. ‘Scale norming is a concern for subjective well-being research: evidence from a new metric”. Under review at Journal of Economic Psychology. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3245058
- Fabian, M. ‘Hybrids: The economic way of thinking about Economic Policy’
- Fabian, M. ‘Tie-breakers and institutions of evidence-based policy: the social and political implications of subjective ethics’.
- ‘The supposed failure of liberal-centrism is anything but’, The Rationalist
- ‘Government v Market? In fact, hybrid policy is the best fit for the 21st century’, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/market-v-government-in-fact-hybrid-policy-is...
- ‘Blaming migrants for unemployment, lower wages and high house prices is too simplistic’, The Conversation, 23/02/2018, https://theconversation.com/blaming-immigrants-for-unemployment-lower-wa...
- ‘It’s time to draw the line in the sand on trigger warnings’, Quillette, 13/10/2016, http://quillette.com/2016/10/12/time-to-draw-the-line-in-the-sand-on-tri...
- ‘India needs to harness the market instead of fighting it’, East Asia Forum, 21/06/2016, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/06/21/india-needs-to-harness-the-marke...
- ‘Generalising the middle-income trap’, East Asia Forum, 28/04/2016 http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/04/28/generalising-the-middle-income-t...
- ‘India’s demographic dividend strait-jacketed by labour regulations’, East Asia Forum, 25/04/2016 http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/04/25/indias-demographic-dividend-stra...
- ‘Confusion about -isms is compounding schisms’, Quillette, 11/04/2016 http://quillette.com/2016/04/11/confusion-about-isms-is-compounding-schi...
- ‘Socialism is worse than capitalism - you want a welfare state’, Quillette, 21/0½016; http://quillette.com/2016/0½1/socialism-is-worse-than-capitalism-you-wa...
- ‘Childcare not the only cost for working women in Japan’ (http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/09/16/childcare-not-the-only-cost-for-...)’; East Asia Forum, 16 September 2014
- ‘Japan needs to reform its work hour culture’; East Asia Forum, 22 January 2014
- ‘ASEAN the key to security in Asia’; East Asia Forum, 10 August 2013
- ‘For love not money: kidney exchange encourages social contract’; The Conversation, 24 February 2012
- ‘What’s great about Canberra’; ANU Reporter, vol. 45 no. 2 pg. 26
- ‘Happiness for all? Unequal hopes and lives in pursuit of the American dream, by Carol Graham, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2017), pp. xv + 192’, forthcoming in Economic Record
- ‘Stability of Happiness: theories and evidence on whether happiness can change, by Kennon M. Sheldon and Richard E. Lucas eds. (Elsevier Academic Press, Oxford, UK, 2014) pp. xvi + 317’, in Economic Record, Vol. 92, no. 297, June 2016
- ‘Happiness and Economic Growth: Lessons from developing countries by Andrew E. Clark and Claudia Senik (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2014), pp. xiv + 277’, in Economic Record, Vol. 92 No. 296, March 2016
- ‘Why Gender Matters in Economics by Mukesh Eswaran (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ), pp. xii + 392’, in Economic Record, Vol.91, No. 292, 2015
- ‘Measuring Happiness: the economics of wellbeing’ (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-4932.12211/abstract) by Joachim Weimann, Andreas Knabe and Ronnie Schob (MIT Press, Cambridge: MA, 2015) pp. x + 212 in Economic Record, Vol. 91 no. 294, 2015
Radio and television
- Guest on ABC 666 mornings with Alex Sloan to discuss kidney procurement policy, Monday March 05 2012; recording available on request
- Guest on Channel News Asia - Between the Lines to discuss long work hours in Japan; http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/video/between-the-lines/2316906.html
Scholarships and fellowships
Australian Postgraduate Award
EABER PhD top-up Scholarship
National Parliamentary Fellowship Program - India
2018: Lecturer and convenor - Pre-sessional program in economics 2018: Tutor for Australian Awards Scholars (by request) 2015-2017: Tutor - Governments, Markets and Global Change 2015-2017: Tutor - Issues in Development Policy 2016-2017: Tutor - The Economic Way of Thinking
2011-2017: East Asia Forum (General Manager and other roles)
2016: Policy Adviser, Office of Baijayant Panda MP Lok Sabha, India
2012: Tutor - Fundamentals of Political Theory
2011-2013: Tutor - Tjabal Centre for Indigenous Students
2010-2012: General Manager, Centre for the Study of Australian Politics
2010: Academic Sub-Dean, Burton and Garran Hall
Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
J.G. Crawford Building No. 132
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200 Australia