In this episode of Policy Matters, host Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha are joined by Sunčica Vujić, Associate Professor of Applied Econometrics at the University of Antwerp. Sunčica’s research covers a broad range of topics, but a common thread is that it is always very engaged with policy: making an impact in policy areas including crime, health, education and the labour market. Franz and Matt start by asking her about her recent work on the impact of the Brexit referendum on recorded hate-crimes in the UK, and we get a bonus lesson from Franz in translating statistical terms into user-friendly language! Sunčica then discusses her work that shows how policymakers and immigrants themselves can help to improve immigrants’ chances of labour market success, highlighting the startling role of volunteering in reducing labour market discrimination. The discussion concludes with some interesting findings on the impact of education on fertility timing in the UK.
In this episode, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson again find themselves at the start of a coronavirus lockdown. This time, lockdown number 3 is much closer to the first lockdown with almost everything, including schools, closed once again.
Matt and Franz begin by discussing their personal situations in lockdown as well as the national situation, before looking to the positives not only of the vaccines but also to the availability of existing drugs that are able to treat people who have already contracted COVID-19.
After outlining the success of the ‘Recovery' programme that has been clinically trialling drugs for COVID-19 and has already saved 650,000 lives worldwide, Franz and Matt go on to discuss the importance of randomised controlled trails in providing robust evidence of causal effects both in medical science and public policy-making.
The programme ends with consideration of the other big policy area that’s dominated recent weeks: Brexit. January 1st saw the end of the transition period and a new relationship between the UK and the EU, so Franz and Matt break their long-standing Brexit embargo to talk about the ways in which life has changed already, and how things may unfold in the longer term – committing to another 10 years of Policy Matters in the process!
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson look back at more of their favourite episodes from 2020, discussing the research they found most interesting from their guests over the last year.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson look back at some of their favourite episodes from 2020, highlighting the things they found most interesting about the research shared by a selection of different guests.
In the midst of the second COVID-related national lockdown for England, this episode of Policy Matters sees hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson revisit some of the questions that were being asked in the first episode recorded under lockdown restrictions back in April.
They start with some personal reflections on what life has been like juggling working-from-home and home-schooling over the months since the pandemic began, and thinking about the impact that the disruptions to education will have on school-aged children and inequality.
Franz and Matt then discuss some of the academic research related to the pandemic; highlighting in particular the unintended consequences of policies like the “Eat out to help out” scheme, and considering the different ways in which the pandemic has affected the self-employed.
The programme ends with a look ahead at some of the longer-term effects this experience might have on birth-rates and the implications these may have, and also considers what positive policy lessons could be taken forward and acted upon in the future.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to Martha Bloom, a researcher at the Science Policy Research Institute at the University of Sussex.
Martha recently wrote a report examining the economic returns to creative arts degrees, the types of employment these graduates go on to and the motivations of those who undertake higher level creative education. Franz, Matt and Martha begin by discussing the difficulties facing the creative industries in the post-pandemic world, yet how the crisis has also highlighted the importance of these industries for the wellbeing of the nation.
Martha then explains the ways in which creative arts graduates contribute to the economy both within the creative industries and more broadly, what her report reveals about their motivations and the benefits that they enjoy across a range of measures. The discussion then goes on to consider a related report co-authored by Franz and Matt, which examines the earnings and employment returns to different postgraduate degrees.
This conversation again highlights the importance of skills and vocations that might not be highly paid but provide vital inputs into the economy and public life, and the danger of judging the value of education purely in terms of earnings.
Hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Nadine Smith, Director of the Centre for Public Impact. Prior to her current role, Nadine was a civil servant at the Cabinet Office for many years, working at the centre of UK government at the intersection of policy, politics and communications. Franz and Matt begin by asking Nadine about the mission of the Centre for Public Impact and how they look to influence policymakers and improve government. The conversation considers the problems that arise when public service provision is marketized and driven by performance targets and league tables, and how many systems might be redesigned to be more responsive to the needs of citizens. Nadine, Franz and Matt then go on to discuss the possibilities for greater citizen involvement in decision-making – and the ways in which we could potentially introduce more deliberative democracy in the UK.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson discuss a non-COVID-19 policy topic that has been prominent in recent months following the recent Black Lives Matter protests: the ethnic inequalities that exist in socio-economic outcomes in the UK. Examining the issue from an academic viewpoint, Franz initially explains how labour economists define discrimination and how theoretically classical economics would expect labour market discrimination on the basis of race or gender to be eliminated by market forces. Matt and Franz go on to discuss how reality clashes with this theory, setting out the extent of contemporary ethnic and gender pay inequalities and some of the issues with analysis that seeks to explain away the large differences in pay between men and women and between white workers and those of other ethnicities. The discussion continues by looking at studies directly highlighting discrimination in hiring in both the UK and the US, before concluding with thoughts on what policymakers could do to address these longstanding inequalities.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to Neil Davies, Senior Research Fellow at the MRC Integrated Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol. Neil is a statistical epidemiologist, so Franz and Matt begin by finding out what life has been like for an epidemiologist since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Neil then explains his recent work showing how some of the myriad statistics we’re seeing relating to coronavirus suffer from their survey design, which can generate misleading apparent relationships between COVID-19 risk and individual characteristics, such as smoking. Next, Neil explains the statistical technique known as ‘Mendelian Randomisation’; which uses natural variation in our genes to help understand how health conditions and other individual characteristics impact on health and other social and economic outcomes. Matt, Franz and Neil go on to explore some of Neil’s recent research using this technique, which shows how education and intelligence impact the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, how BMI affects later outcomes, and why continuing longer in school might lead to increased costs at the opticians!
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Simon Burgess, Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol. With COVID-19 and all the policy responses to it still very much at the forefront of public policy, Franz and Matt begin by asking Simon about the likely impact of school closures on child attainment, how this may affect existing socio-economic inequalities and what policymakers could do to tackle the issue once schools settle back to “normal”. The additional problems of replacing GCSE and A-level exams with teacher assessments are also considered, along with the difficult situation facing graduates finishing university this year. The discussion then moves on to Simon’s research into the impact of students’ effort on their educational outcomes. Simon explains how international football tournaments and school visits from Michelle Obama have provided insights into the huge effect that students’ effort can have on their results – and how policymakers might harness these findings.