In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson are joined by Steve Machin, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, and a leading expert in the economics of crime. We might not initially think that economists have much to say on crime and policing, but Steve explains how the choice to commit crime can be thought of like any other choice that involves weighing up the costs and benefits. As such, when the prices of goods on the black market change or the chances of being caught change there is a response in crime rates. Similarly, when individuals are made to stay in school longer, this leads to a reduction in crime as those with more education can earn more in the labour market and so crime is less attractive. Steve goes on to highlight a number of ways in which the economics of crime research has led to changes in policy that have had positive results for society.
The New Labour government introduced a national minimum wage (NMW) in 1999. At first this was opposed by the Conservative party, but they have since joined a growing political consensus. The Low Pay Commission (LPC) are tasked with recommending NMW rates that 'help as many low-paid workers as possible without any significant adverse impact on employment or the economy’. The LPC’s apparent success in achieving this, may be one reason for growing political census, so it is perhaps worrying that a National Living Wage (NLW) is being set without these considerations. Len Shackleton, Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham and Editorial and Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, sets out these issues and more in a recent IEA paper on Restructuring Minimum Wages. Prof. Shackleton argues that the system has become overly complex and recommendations made by the Taylor Review will only add to this complexity. In this interview we consider his proposals and what the future may hold for UK minimum wages.
Mike Indian, political commentator and author of The Groucho Tendency blog, discusses with Simon Rose the outcome of the EU summit in Salzburg where leaders of the 27 other member states discussed Brexit. With the head of the European Council Donald Tusk saying that May’s Chequers plan would not work, what does that mean for the Prime Minister and her plan. Is a no-deal Brexit now more likely. Mike also highlights the leaked Tory dossier about who might replace May, which gives pitchy comments on the chances of the possible candidates. Ahead of the Labour Party conference, he looks at Labour’s democracy review and the possibility of the party endorsing a call for a second Brexit referendum.
Ahead of the European Council summit in the Austrian City of Salzburg on the 20th of September, we ask what’s next for Brexit. Can the Government stick its beleaguered Chequers proposal? Could the UK take the Norway option whilst negotiating a more comprehensive Free Trade Agreement? To discuss these issues the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes was joined by Stephen Booth of the Open Europe think tank. Stephen argues that Chequers is the only game in town because it’s the only deal that meets the EU’s tests, and because the Government simply does not have the numbers or political capital to move any further away from the EU through a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement. Also joining Darren is Victoria Hewson, Senior Counsel at the IEA’s Trade Unit. Victoria argues that the EU’s demand for backstop could lock the UK into the EU’s orbit in perpetuity. For Victoria, the prospect of a our future trading agreement being determined by parliamentary politics is why Brexiteers are so worried about Chequers. There’s a feeling that if we don’t seize the momentum, the pro-Remain majority within Parliament will win the day and the opportunities of an independent trade policy and regulatory autonomy will be lost. The pair give their analysis on what’s next, how we got here and how all roads lead to Ireland.
In this first episode of the new series of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson spent some time reflecting back on their previous guests and discuss some of the key messages that each episode brought up. Why is social mobility important? Are grammar schools good for social mobility? Are there upsides to vocational education and why should HE students take care when selecting degrees? Both Matt and Franz highlight particular lessons learned and how they relate to current policy. Franz and Matt then look forward to this new season of Policy Matters and discuss topics such as health, crime, gender and happiness that will be explored in more detail in future episodes.
We may be leaving the EU – but what should our mode of departure look like? Today we’re joined by the IEA’s Head of Health and Welfare Dr Kristian Niemietz, and Associate Director Kate Andrews – to discuss the pros and cons of the so-called ‘Norway Option’ – a form of Brexit under which the UK would leave the European Customs Union, but remain in the Single Market. The ‘Norway model’ refers to two key European organisations: The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA). Norway (along with Liechtenstein and Iceland) is a member of both. And the idea has been gaining traction recently, with the government’s Chequers model looking unpalatable to EU negotiators, and the British public alike. Yet although Kristian is a proponent of the Norway option – it’s not quite as simple as that. He would probably back a Hard Brexit – provided we had a realistic chance of becoming a deregulating, free trading outside of the Single Market. Unfortunately, here the Zeitgeist is very much against free market types, he argues.
This week we’re joined by Dr Steve Davies, Head of Education at the IEA, to discuss one of the most hot-button issues in American politics – the right to bear arms.
Interviewed by the IEA’s News Editor Kate Andrews, Steve gives us a history lesson on the Second Amendment, where the right came from, and what both sides of the debate get wrong.
Steve argues that the right to bear arms came from a philosophy of classical republicanism or civic humanism, which means that in a self governing republic, all citizens have certain obligations and duties upon them, one of which is to use force against outsiders or a tyrannical state.
In this sense, gun ownership is an individual right, but not a private right, making gun advocates and gun control advocates alike wrong in their approach to the issue.
Steve discusses the Swiss-style system, which is one of the best examples of an armed militia, and how its gun laws differ from the United States.
The pair also discuss what makes homicide rate and mass shootings more or less likely, with Steve arguing it has less to do with weapon proliferation, and more to do with societal norms and culture.
Finally, Kate asks Steve the million pound question – does the UK need a Second Amendment?
It seems the likelihood of leaving the EU with no deal is increasing — in fact it’s now 60 per cent, according to Trade Minister Liam Fox.
Also on the up in recent weeks has been the proliferation of apocalyptic scenarios about what this might mean. Planes won’t fly, we’re told, there will be shortages of medicines and food - some claim that basic products like cheese, butter and even sandwiches could become “luxuries” after Brexit.
At the same time, leaving without an agreement would require a tremendous amount of planning and preparation - and there are many legitimate concerns and warnings worth listening to.
Today we’re joined by the IEA’s Chief Economist Julian Jessop and Senior Counsel Victoria Hewson, to discuss how the UK is preparations for such eventualities and how seriously we should take the dire warnings about what this would entail.
In this episode of Policy Matters, host Matt Dickson talks to Laura van der Erve from the Institute for Fiscal Studies about the merits of doing a university degree, and what recent evidence suggests are the relative labour market returns to degrees in different subjects at different institutions. With almost 50% of young people in England going on to Higher Education, and with tuition fees of £9,250 for most courses, it has never been more important to understand the impact on earnings of studying different subjects and at different HE institutions. Laura describes recent research from the IFS looking at graduate outcomes and explains some of the difficulties in pinning down the impact of a particular course on later earnings and employment. They then discuss social gradients in attending university and the extent to which inequalities have been impacted by changes in tuition fees. Finally, talk turns to thinking about the sorts of things students need to know in advance in order to make an informed decision about where to apply and what to study, how the government can help with this, and the limits of information provision as a policy.
In the last of her four discussions with writer and consultant on responsible business Tom Levitt, Linda Lewis probes further into what it means to be a responsible and sustainable business in the 21st century. The two discuss what it is that engages employees within a business setting, the growing phenomenon of “social enterprise”, and how such businesses differ from the mainstream. The role of “purpose” in business is explored; as is the changing nature of investment, which is increasingly being used to support businesses in creating positive social and environmental outcomes. The discussion is further explored from a historical perspective – what can we learn from hindsight that could improve business today?