Professor Helen Bao

BA (Dongbei), MA (Dongbei), MA (Cantab), PhD (Hong Kong)

Fellow (A), College Lecturer, Assistant Tutor, Postgraduate Mentor

Helen Bao

College Roles

  • Fellow (A)
  • College Lecturer in Land Economy
  • Assistant Tutor (Undergraduates, Postgraduates)
  • Harassment Advisor
  • Postgraduate Mentor

University Roles

  • Professor of Land Economy
  • Director of Graduate Admissions, Department of Land Economy
  • Director of International Relations, Department of Land Economy


Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 337116 (Department)

Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 335761 (College)


Helen Bao


Professor Helen Bao researches the economics of real estate, and how people make sound financial decisions.

Helen was born and raised in Inner Mongolia, China. She completed her BA and MA in Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (Dalian, China), and PhD in City University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China).

Research Interests

Helen’s research focuses on government policy and interventions that facilitate market operations and mitigate market failures in urban settings, such as sustainable urbanisation and housing affordability. On the technical front, she specialises in the application of behavioural insights and hedonic price modelling in land and housing markets. Helen has published numerous papers in leading peer-reviewed journals in her field, including Economy Geography, The Journal of American Planning Association, Journal of Business Research, Urban Studies, Cities, Land Use Policy, Habitat International, and Real Estate Economics. (See her departmental web page for a full list of papers.) Helen’s new book, “Behavioural Science and Housing Decision Making: A Case Study Approach”, pushes the teaching and research frontier of behavioural urban studies.

She is joint Principal Investigator on the ESRC – NSFC Grant-funded project “Nudging towards a better financial future: applying behavioural insights in the development of financial systems in rural China.” (2017 – 2021)

The overarching research question of this project is whether and how behavioural insights can be used to help rural residents in China make sound financial decisions, which will enable them to move out of poverty, and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic development in China. The project conducts field experiments in rural China to identify psychological and social factors that may potentially affect the development of rural financial systems in China and to cross-validate the existing laboratory experiment results and field evidence from the UK. They have a particular focus on the potential of digital technology for rural financial systems, and to identify ‘e-Nudges’ that can be used to help rural households in developing healthy financial habits.