Susan Thorp

Photo of Susan Thorp


Rm 539
H69 - Codrington Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

Telephone +61 2 9036 6354


Susan Thorp is Professor of Finance. Prior to joining the University of Sydney in 2015, she was Professor of Finance and Superannuation at the University of Technology Sydney. Susan has an honours degree in Economics from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in Economics from the University of New South Wales.

Susan researches household and consumer finance with a particular focus on retirement savings and decumulation. She uses theoretical, empirical and experimental techniques to understand financial decision making. Much of this research has tested the way decision makers respond to advisors, disclosures and choice architecture.

Financial econometrics is another concentration of Susan’s research. She has studied the increased integration that occurs in financial markets during crises, with a recent focus on commodity markets.

Susan has published 40 papers in international academic journals. She has led and participated in grant projects attracting over $3 million dollars in public and industry funding. Susan is also a regular contributor to consumer finance and superannuation policy discussions, and her research is cited by major public reviews and inquiries.

Susan is a member of the Steering Committee of the Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index, an annually compiled internationally recognised index of pension system quality, a member of the CEDA Council on Economic Policy and a member of the Research Committee of the OECD/International Network on Financial Education.

Research Interests

Professor Thorp’s research has two strands: first, wealth management over the life cycle, with particular emphasis on individual financial decision making and second, financial market integration and volatility transmission. Rapid national and global developments in retirement savings systems will assume even greater importance as business and government work out how to adjust to aging populations. Repeated financial crises verify the need for a deeper understanding of the origin and transmission of turbulence between markets.

Susan works in cross-disciplinary research teams that include scholars from finance, economics, marketing, psychology, law, econometrics and statistics. Her work includes applications of a wide range of techniques: dynamic programming in continuous and discrete time (using analytical and numerical solution methods); time series, volatility, cross-sectional, panel, discrete and limited dependent variable econometric modeling; and survey, field and laboratory experimental design, execution and analysis. She has extensive experience in surveys and choice experiments.

A critical problem for retirees is how best manage their savings in risky investment markets over an uncertain length of time. Susan’s theoretical research finds the ideal investment strategy and spending plans before and after retirement. These models highlight the influence of Age Pension regulations on spending and risk management, and the relation between the Age Pension and the demand for longevity insurance. Recent work studies insurance against the costs of formal and informal aged care.

Many people find financial decisions daunting, particularly when they relate to important but distant outcomes like retirement. Professor Thorp studies both conventionally rational and behavioural influences on consumer choices in investment, decumulation and financial advice, including studies of biases, heuristics, choice architecture and financial literacy. Her work has identified best practice in investment risk communication; the use of default and diversification heuristics in portfolio and retirement income stream choices; an analysis of the formation of client trust in a financial advisor; and a body of descriptive work mapping the financial literacy, financial product awareness, numeracy and retirement planning of Australians into the international setting.

Financial crises are a recurring challenge to investors and regulators. Susan’s work on integration and contagion investigate volatility and policy transmission during financial crises. This work uses structural GARCH and smooth transition techniques to identify the timing and sources of contagious shocks and measure the different impacts of contagion sourced locally and externally. Studies of contagion transmission support the use of policy tools to protect local markets from imported contagion.

Commodity markets are a critical influence on the Australian economy. Over recent decades commodity markets have experienced a rapid inflow in capital from financial investors and changes to fossil fuel policy. Financial investment in commodities markets raise questions about price discovery and destabilization. Susan’s investigation of correlation dynamics demonstrated that increased integration between commodity and equity markets coincided with financialisation, and motivated increased scrutiny by regulators. Further work looks into the unintended consequences of biofuel policy for food markets, and the effects of changes to production and consumption on crude oil markets.

Selected publications


Journal Articles

Deetlefs J, Bateman H, Dobrescu L, Newell B, Ortmann A, and Thorp S (2019) Engagement with retirement savings: It's a matter of trust Journal of Consumer Affairs, 53 (3), 917-945. [More Information]

Kingston G, and Thorp S (2019) Superannuation in Australia: A Survey of the Literature Economic Record, 95 (308), 141-160. [More Information]

Satchell S, Thorp S, and Williams O (2019) Reversing disbursement rates to estimate stationary wealth processes for endowments with recursive preferences Applied Economics, 51 (14), 1541-1557. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Agnew J, Bateman H, Eckert C, Iskhakov F, Louviere J, and Thorp S (2018) First Impressions Matter: An Experimental Investigation of Online Financial Advice Management Science, 64 (1), 288-307. [More Information]

Bateman H, Eckert C, Iskhakov F, Louviere J, Satchell S, and Thorp S (2018) Individual Capability and Effort in Retirement Benefit Choice Journal of Risk and Insurance, 85 (2), 483-512. [More Information]

Bird R, Foster D, Gray J, Raftery A, Thorp S, and Yeung D (2018) Who starts a self-managed superannuation fund and why? Australian Journal of Management, 43 (3), 373-403. [More Information]

Butt A, Donald M, Foster D, Thorp S, and Warren G (2018) One size fits all? Tailoring retirement plan defaults Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 145, 546-566. [More Information]

Cayon E, Thorp S, and Wu E (2018) Immunity and Infection: Emerging and Developed Market Sovereign Spreads over the Global Financial Crisis Emerging Markets Review, 34, 162-174. [More Information]

Dobrescu L, Fan X, Bateman H, Newell B, Ortmann A, and Thorp S (2018) Retirement Savings: A Tale of Decisions and Defaults Economic Journal, 128 (610), 1047-1094. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Asher A, Meyricke R, Thorp S, and Wu S (2017) Age pensioner decumulation: Responses to incentives, uncertainty and family need Australian Journal of Management, 42 (4), 583-607. [More Information]

Bateman H, Eckert C, Iskhakov F, Louviere J, Satchell S, and Thorp S (2017) Default and naive diversification heuristics in annuity choice Australian Journal of Management, 42 (1), 32-57. [More Information]

Butt A, Donald M, Foster F, Thorp S, and Warren G (2017) Design of MySuper default funds: influences and outcomes Accounting and Finance, 57 (1), 47-85. [More Information]

Nikitopoulos C, Squires M, Thorp S, and Yeung D (2017) Determinants of the Crude Oil Futures Curve: Inventory, Consumption and Volatility Journal of Banking & Finance, 84, 53-67. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Bateman H, Dobrescu L, Newell B, Ortmann A, and Thorp S (2016) As easy as pie: How retirement savers use prescribed investment disclosures Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 121, 60-76. [More Information]

Bateman H, Eckert C, Geweke J, Louviere J, Satchell S, and Thorp S (2016) Risk Presentation and Portfolio Choice Review of Finance, 20 (1), 201-229. [More Information]

Silvennoinen A, and Thorp S (2016) Crude Oil and Agricultural Futures: An Analysis of Correlation Dynamics The Journal of Futures Markets, 36 (6), 522-544. [More Information]

Spicer A, Stavrunova O, and Thorp S (2016) How Portfolios Evolve after Retirement: Evidence from Australia Economic Record, 92 (297), 241-267. [More Information]

Book Chapter

Keane M, and Thorp S (2016) Complex Decision Making: The Roles of Cognitive Limitations, Cognitive Decline, and Aging Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging; Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, 661-709. [More Information]


Louviere J, Bateman H, Thorp S, and Eckert C (2016) Developing new financial literacy measures to better link financial capability to outcomes; Financial Literacy Australia, Sydney, 3-58.

Zhang B, Deer L, Wardrop R, Grant A, Garvey K, Thorp S, Ziegler T, Ying K, Xinwei Z, Huang Y, Gray Y, Akhtar S, Anthonisz S, and et al (2016) Harnessing Potential: The Asia-Pacific Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report; KPMG, Sydney, 18-93.


Journal Articles

Butt A, Donald M, Foster F, Thorp S, and Warren G (2015) The Australian superannuation system post Stronger Super: views from fund executives Law and Financial Markets Review, 9 (2), 106-112. [More Information]

Dungey M, Milunovich G, Thorp S, and Yang M (2015) Endogenous crisis dating and contagion using smooth transition structural GARCH Journal of Banking & Finance, 58, 71-79. [More Information]

Iskhakov F, Thorp S, and Bateman H (2015) Optimal Annuity Purchases for Australian Retirees Economic Record, 91 (293), 139-154. [More Information]

Wu S, Stevens R, and Thorp S (2015) Cohort and target age effects on subjective survival probabilities: Implications for models of the retirement phase Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 55, 39-56. [More Information]

Book Chapter

Bateman H, Louviere J, and Thorp S (2015) Understanding how consumers make financial choices: A cross-disciplinary learning experience The Routledge Companion to Financial Services Marketing; Routledge, Abingdon, 196-232.


Journal Articles

Bateman H, Deetlefs J, Dobrescu L, Newell B, Ortmann A, and Thorp S (2014) Just interested or getting involved? An analysis of superannuation attitudes and actions Economic Record, 90 (289), 160-178. [More Information]

Bateman H, Eckert C, Geweke J, Louviere J, Satchell S, and Thorp S (2014) Financial competence, risk presentation and retirement portfolio preferences Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, 13 (1), 27-61. [More Information]

Bird R, Liem H, and Thorp S (2014) Infrastructure: Real Assets and Real Returns European Financial Management, 20 (4), 802-824. [More Information]

Cayon E, and Thorp S (2014) Financial autarchy as contagion prevention: The case of colombian pension funds Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, 50, 122-139. [More Information]

Book Chapter

Satchell S, and Thorp S (2014) Modelling Sustainable Spending Plans for Family Offices, Foundations and Trusts Quantitative Approaches to High Net Worth Investment; Risk Books, London, 231-268.


Journal Articles

Agnew J, Bateman H, and Thorp S (2013) Work, money, lifestyle: Plans of Australian retirees JASSA, 2013 (1), 40-44.

Agnew J, Bateman H, and Thorp S (2013) Superannuation Knowledge and Plan Behaviour JASSA, 2013 (1), 45-50.

Agnew J, Bateman H, and Thorp S (2013) Financial Literacy and Retirement Planning in Australia Numeracy: advancing education in quantitative literacy, 6 (2), 1-25. [More Information]

Bird R, Liem H, and Thorp S (2013) The Tortoise and the Hare: Risk Premium versus Alternative Asset Portfolios The Journal of Portfolio Management, 39 (3), 112-122. [More Information]

Hulley H, McKibben R, Pedersen A, and Thorp S (2013) Means-Tested Public Pensions, Portfolio Choice and Decumulation in Retirement Economic Record, 89 (284), 31-51.

Hulley H, McKibbin R, Pedersen A, and Thorp S (2013) Means-tested income support, portfolio choice and decumulation in retirement Economic Record, 89 (284), 31-51. [More Information]

Silvennoinen A, and Thorp S (2013) Financialization, crisis and commodity correlation dynamics Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, 24 (1), 42-65. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Bateman H, Eckert C, Geweke J, Louviere J, Thorp S, and Satchell S (2012) Financial Competence and Expectations Formation: Evidence from Australia Economic Record, 88 (280), 39-63. [More Information]

Thorp S (2012) Review of ‘Handbook of Behavioral Finance’- Brian Bruce (editor), Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010 Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, 11 (1), 148-150.

Thorp S (2012) Review of ‘Handbook of Behavioral Finance' Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, 11 (1), 148-150. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Bateman H, Islam T, Louviere J, Satchell S, and Thorp S (2011) Retirement Investor Risk Tolerance in Tranquil and Crisis Periods: Experimental Survey Evidence Journal of Behavioral Finance, 12 (4), 201-218. [More Information]

Satchell S, and Thorp S (2011) Uncertain survival and time discounting: intertemporal consumption plans for family trusts Journal of Population Economics, 24 (1), 239-266. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Bateman H, Louviere J, Thorp S, Islam T, and Satchell S (2010) Investment Decisions for Retirement Savings Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44 (3), 463-482. [More Information]

Dungey M, Milunovich G, and Thorp S (2010) Unobservable shocks as carriers of contagion Journal of Banking & Finance, 34 (5), 1008-1021. [More Information]


Journal Articles

Bateman H, and Thorp S (2008) Choices and Constraints over Retirement Income Streams: Comparing Rules and Regulations Economic Record, 84, s17-s34. [More Information]

Petrichev K, and Thorp S (2008) The private value of public pensions Insurance: Mathematics and Economics.

Recent Units Taught

  • BUSS4403 Finance Honours B

  • FINC3024 Personal Finance and Superannuation

Newsroom articles

  • Flawed fine print no surprise to the experts 15 Oct 2019

    Australian Financial Review

    Professor Susan Thorp from the Business School was quoted in the Australian Financial Review on ASIC’s review of product disclosure statements.

  • Vulnerable Australians could lose insurance money under superannuation shake-up 08 Jun 2019

    SBS Online

    SBS Online quoted Professor Susan Thorp from the Business School about how changes to superannuation laws could impact insurance cover provided by superannuation funds.

  • AustralianSuper encourages member engagement 17 May 2019

    Australian Financial Review

    Australian Financial Review mentioned research from Professor Susan Thorp and PhD Candidate George Smyrnis into how people adjust their superannuation depending on what information they receive.

  • Susan Thorp on ABC's 7:30 23 Apr 2019

    ABC's 7:30

    ABC’s 7.30 interviewed Professor Susan Thorp about Australia’s superannuation system.

  • Will your super be enough to retire on? 09 Apr 2019

    ABC’s 7.30

    ABC’s 7.30 interviewed Professor Susan Thorp about the origins of Australia’s compulsory superannuation system. Professor Thorp was also interviewed on ABC Radio (Sydney, Illawarra, Mid North Coast, Central West) about superannuation in Australia.

See all Newsroom items for Susan Thorp


Australians are increasingly at risk of making the wrong decisions in crucial areas, such as superannuation investments, because of poor levels of financial literacy. Professor Susan Thorp discusses the current research being undertaken to improve financial literacy levels worldwide.

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