Faculty of Social Sciences

Katrine Løken awarded ERC Starting Grant

The economist Katrine Vellesen Løken has been awarded the prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

Professor Katrine Løken from the Norwegian School of Economics and the University of Bergen.
TOP EUROPEAN RESEARCH: Professor Katrine Løken from the Norwegian School of Economics and the University of Bergen receives the ERC Starting Grant, one of the highest ranking grants in the EU.
Jan Kåre Wilhelmsen, University of Bergen

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Two years ago, Katrine Vellesen Løken from the Department of Economics at the University of Bergen (UiB) became Norway's youngest female professor of economics. Now she receives the prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The grant is awarded to promising young researchers, who have excelled in their research and who got their PhD over the past two to seven years.

Løken is today a professor at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), but is also a professor in a 20 per cent position at UiB.

Family economics and criminal justice

The economy professor has long made her mark internationally, in particular in research on family economics and economic issues related to the criminal system.

“This award means a lot. It provides greater scope for action, and the opportunity to include more researchers to do research into the background and consequences of crime. It is also fun that what the research I have already done is recognized internationally,” says Katrine Løken about being awarded the ERC Starting Grant.

In the ERC-supported project, called CIVICS – Criminality, Victimization and Social Interactions – she will work with several international researchers, including Magne Mogstad from the University of Chicago and Gordon B. Dahl from the University of San Diego. Researchers from several Norwegian institutions will also be involved in CIVICS. Amongst them Manudeep Bhuller from the University of Oslo and Julian Vedeler Johnsen, another young research talent from the leading social insurance and labour economics research environment at UiB.

Economics and crime

Much of today's crime research focuses on cause/effect-models, often only considering the individual offenders' actions in isolation. With CIVICS, Løken wants to establish a broader understanding of the economy of crime, by taking the social context of crime into account and looking at crime as the group activity it usually is.

“We want our research to help decision-makers make better use of resources, both in terms of preventive measures and rehabilitation of convicted criminals,” says Løken about the ambitious goal and the societal relevance of the CIVICS project.

In the project description, it is also emphasized that CIVICS will contribute to a better understanding of criminal networks and their social context, in order to help authorities prevent the establishment of such networks by improving social assistance measures.

The project will be at the forefront in research and will use existing data to establish causality between criminal networks and their victims, and help communities to intervene at an early stage.

Three main goals of project

Løken summarizes the three main goals of the CIVICS project:

  • Use recent advances in network modelling to describe the structure and density of various criminal networks and study network dynamics after the arrest/incarceration or death of a central player in the network.
  • Obtain a more accurate measure of the societal costs of crime, including actual measures of lost earnings, physical and mental health problems, following victims and their offenders before and after a crime takes place.
  • Conduct a randomized control trial within the prison system to better understand how current rehabilitation programs affect criminal and victim networks.