Brexit has revitalized debates about democracy. Restoring democracy and sovereignty can come risk for those strongly committed to free markets — that our fellow citizens might choose another path, perhaps even one that could lead to socialist and freedom-hindering policies. But is that a risk we must take? In a free society, what individual rights should never be infringed on? What should be voted on? And is there a place for technocratic decision-making? In a new paper, the Director of the IEA’s FREER initiative, Rebecca Lowe, argues that one clear answer to ‘improving’ democracy here in the UK would be to institute a proper focus on local decision-making — something that, she says, has been overlooked in past years. Rebecca joins the IEA's Darren Grimes to discuss, alongside Adam Bartha, the Director of EPICENTER, the European Policy Information Center.
The Windrush scandal outraged the nation last year. But last week the Home Office reinstated deportation flights to Jamaica for criminal offenders who they say are foreign nationals. Meanwhile, parliament passed a new immigration bill last month, promising to control the “number and type” of people coming to the UK. The home secretary came under fire for proposing a £30,000 income threshold for EU immigrants. A lot of the debate we hear about immigration is made in economic terms. But it’s also about identity, race and belonging. It can be hard at the moment to imagine that a more humane immigration policy might be possible, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to do this week. Guest host Dave Powell is joined by chief exec of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants Satbir Singh, executive director of War on Want Asad Rehman, and Maya Goodfellow, author of a forthcoming book on Britain’s immigration policies.
Dave Powell, Satbir Singh, Asad Rehman, Maya Goodfellow
Opinion surveys consistently suggest that the British public is overwhelmingly hostile to immigration - a hostility which shapes our immigration policies in many ways - often negatively. However, if we dig a little deeper into the polling data, it becomes clear that most people in Britain are not pro or anti immigration per se. Despite overall hostility to immigration, there are types of immigration that are widely accepted, or even popular with the general public. Today we're joined by the IEA's Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz, the author of our latest report into migration. Kristian proposes a new post-Brexit immigration policy that would capitalise on the nuances in public opinion to push for the most liberal migration policy possible.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Alex Bryson, Professor of Quantitative Social Science at University College London. Alex is one of the UK’s leading figures in sports economics and he firstly explains what sports economics is and how it can be used to draw policy inferences in other more familiar areas of economics. Franz, Matt and Alex then discuss the findings of Alex’s paper looking at whether people discriminate against black players when picking their ‘fantasty football’ team and what this might tell us about labour market discrimination. How football referees’ performances are impacted by their employment contract and how having 50,000 vocal fans scrutinising their decisions affects their decision-making are other topics under discussion. Finally, Alex explains how data from baseball can help us understand individual effort choices when working as part of a team.
Last week, the Prime Minister suffered a historic defeat, after the Withdrawal Agreement was voted down in Parliament by a margin of 230 votes. Today we're joined by Victoria Hewson and Dr Radomir Tylecote, of the IEA’s International Trade and Competition Unit. Interviewed by Madeline Grant, the pair examine what these developments mean and what renegotiation with the EU could hold, especially when it comes to securing the UK's ability to have an independent trade policy. They also discuss preparation for a 'no deal' Brexit or WTO departure, and the importance of timing and sequencing in trade negotiations. Finally, they assess the continued impasse around the Irish Border question.
Victoria Hewson, Dr Radomir Tylecote, Madeline Grant
This episode of Policy Matters is a cross-over show in which hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson are joined by the host of Economist Questions, Peter Urwin. As Peter is currently leading a large research project looking at young people’s pathways through education, Franz and Matt ask him about his own journey and how that affected his social mobility. They go on to discuss the problems that the Further Education system faces in providing both second chances for those who don’t achieve well at age 16 as well as higher-level training for those more suited to the vocational route. All this in the context of dwindling education budgets in general, and a lack of policy focus on the Further Education system.
One underexplored aspect of the global economy in recent decades has been an explosion in the creation, issuing and enforcement of regulations. But is this emerging regulatory state necessary in the modern age, both to protect consumers and adapt to the changing needs of contemporary trade - or is this weight of regulation excessive and harmful to competition? Some even argue that such rules - often issued by unelected officials and removed from the electorate - represent a threat to democracy itself? Britain’s withdrawal from the EU has revived interest in these issues, since the UK may soon be extricating itself from a weight of historic regulatory rules dating back to the Maastricht Treaty. Yet increasing regulation is actually part of a global trend, with the US, China, and to a lesser extent, Japan also defining the trade landscape through their different regimes. Today, the IEA's Head of Education Dr Steve Davies makes the case that the regulatory state, and its push for harmonisation, is damaging competition. Back in 1970s Europe, he argues, you could determine good regulations from the bad by monitoring each country’s individual rules and regulations and learning from best practice. On our podcast today, Steve and the IEA’s Associate Director Kate Andrews discuss these topics and more.
In this week's podcast, we were joined by the IEA's Head of Political Economy, Kristian Niemietz, the author of a recent paper which ventures into the realm of fiction to examine the fundamental flaws of socialism. Kristian and Editorial Manager Madeline Grant discuss the popular meme that socialism is a great idea in theory, but only fails due to bad implementation, or corrupt officials - as advocated by trendy millennial socialists today. Kristian debunks this idea, but explores how it has been extremely influential in art, culture and fiction over the last century. We look at why it has proven so compelling, and whether free marketeers need to do more to make the moral and philosophical case for capitalism - as well as arguing on raw economic grounds.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson are joined by Dr George MacKerron, senior lecturer in economics at the University of Sussex. George is an expert in the economics of happiness and wellbeing and the man behind the ‘mappiness’ project. George explains the importance of looking beyond financial measures of individual and national wellbeing and discusses the extent to which the cliché that ‘money can’t buy happiness’ holds true. Franz, Matt and George then discuss the findings from the ‘mappiness’ project which collects real-time data on individual’s self-reported happiness, allowing detailed analysis of the activities that have the greatest impact on how we feel and the way this also depends on where we are and who we’re with. George goes on to explain a number of ways in which public policy can have real impact on individual’s happiness and wellbeing.
This year, Saturday November 10th was Equal Pay Day – the day the Fawcett Society calculates that women, on average, essentially start working for free, because of the gender pay gap. But Office for National Statistics calculated just a few weeks back that the pay gap is the lowest it’s ever been on record. Yet Equal Pay Day hasn’t moved. It’s the same day as it was last year. A new IEA briefing, written by Associate Director Kate Andrews and Chief Economist Julian Jessop, argues that this is a result of calculating the gender pay gap in order to obtain a figure nearly 60% higher than the official data. Kate Andrews has put together a podcast to provide ‘alternative listening’ for those who don’t want to engage in fear-mongering around women in the workplace. Kate brings together women from across the political spectrum, with diverse background and views, but who all agree on one thing – that’s that there’s a positive story to tell about women who work. She asks them all: ‘What positive message do you want to send to women today’, and also asks them for a practical policy proposal to help tackle the issues that working women still face.