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Dr Sean Muller

Dr Sean Muller
School of Economics Academic Staff; PEERC
Senior lecturer

Contact Details
31 Henley Rd, Auckland Park
+27(0)11 559 7456
Auckland Park Campus

Tertiary qualifications
PhD Economics, University of Cape Town (2014)
Title:  “The external validity of treatment effects: an investigation of educational production”
Supervisor: Martin Wittenberg
Examiners: Gary Solon (Michigan State University)
Jeffrey Smith (University of Michigan)
Steve Koch (University of Pretoria)
MPhil Economics, University of Oxford(2009)
MCom Applied Economics, University of Cape Town (distinction)(2007)
BBusSc Economics, University of Cape Town (distinction in econ)(2003)

Employment history
Senior Lecturer,
University of Johannesburg: August 2016 - current
Economic Analyst,
Parliamentary Budget Office: July 2014 – July 2016
Acting Deputy Director Economics,
Parliamentary Budget Office: September – November 2015
Senior Researcher,
Development Policy Research Unit (University of Cape Town): April – June 2014
University of Cape Town: April 2010 – March 2014
Quantitative Research Assistant, Young Lives Project
University of Oxford: September 2009 – March 2010
Intern, Economic Analysis Unit,
National Department of Transport (South Africa): January – December 2004

Research publications
Journal articles
“The economics and philosophy of the brain drain: A critical perspective from the periphery”, South African Journal of Philosophy (special issue on brain drain), forthcoming, 2017.

“Academics as rent seekers: distorted incentives in higher education, with reference to the South African case”, International Journal of Educational Development, 52: 58-67, 2017.

“Interaction and external validity: obstacles to the policy relevance of randomized evaluations”, World Bank Economic Review (conference special issue), 29(1): S217-S225, 2015.

“The transmission of longevity across generations: The case of the settler Cape Colony”, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 35: 105-119, 2014. (with Piraino, Cilliers and Fourie)

“Another problem in the estimation of intergenerational mobility”, Economics Letters, 108(3): 291 295, 2010.
Author/co-author of books
“The Black Middle Class: The Challenges of Joining Two Economies”, chapter in Making Mistakes, Righting Wrongs, Insights into Black Economic Empowerment, Duma Gqubule, ed., Jonathan Ball and KMM Review Publishing, p.187-220, 2006.

“Can the producers of policy analysis be trusted?”, review of Public Policy in an Uncertain World by Charles Manski, Development Southern Africa, 30 (4-5), 697-700, 2013.

“The Economist's Burden”, review of Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion, Oxonian Review of Books, Winter 2007, vol 7:1. 

Papers presented on international conferences
Date, Place & name of conference, Title of paper
19th June 2014.
Campbell Colloquium 2014, Queen's University, Belfast.
“Implications of the external validity debate for systematic reviews: A perspective from the economic literature on class size effects”
7th June

Second Haverford Meeting on Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Haverford College.
“Buridan's Ass in the lab? A cautionary note on endowment effect experiments”

3rd June, 2014.
Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE), Washington D.C.
“Randomised trials for policy: A review of the external validity of treatment effects”

18th January, 2013.
CEMAPRE Workshop on the Economics and Econometrics of Education, Lisbon.
“On the external validity of class size effects”

22nd June 2012.
Experimental Science Association International Conference, New York University.
“Buridan's Ass in the lab? A cautionary note on endowment effect experiments”

5th September 2012.
Evidence and Causality in the Sciences conference, University of Kent, Canterbury.
“Causal interaction, external validity and randomized trials”

24 June 2006.
International Conference on the Foundations and Applications of Utility, Risk and Decision Theory (FUR) XII, Rome.
A heuristic solution to the Allais Paradox, and its implications”
Papers presented on national conferences
Date, Place & name of conference, Title of paper
21 September 2016.
Evidence 2016 conference, Africa Evidence Network,

“Considering the problem of external validity: when can evidence from one context be useful for decision-making in another?”
20 November 2015.
XII Conference of the International Network for Economic Method, Cape Town.
“Extrapolation in economics: is there a substantive difference between external validity and forecasting?
20 November 2015.
XII Conference of the International Network for Economic Method, Cape Town.
When is economics bullshit?