The last four decades have been a roller-coaster ride for economic liberalism. Riding high from the early 1990s, falling trade barriers boosted international trade, integrated countries such as China into the global economy and significantly reduced the number of people in absolute poverty. Developments in technology ‘supercharged’ these impacts, radically altering our lives as workers and consumers. In this interview, Peter Urwin speaks to economist Vicky Pryce about where it all went wrong – is the rise of populism simply a reaction to the 2007-08 financial crisis, or is it a wider backlash against liberalism? Not everybody welcomes the changes brought about by globalisation, and change always implies disruption – is there a case for government compensation, targeted at those who bear the brunt of disruption and are less able to take advantage of the gains from liberalisation?
‘Low-skilled’ or ‘high-skilled’. An ‘economic net contributor’, or ‘a drain on public services’. For decades, immigrants have been treated as scapegoats for everything from failing public services to violent crime. And much too often, as less than human But how did we get here? How did the public conversation about immigration become so toxic? And is there another way forward – an alternative to the hostile environment? This week, New Economics Foundation is at SOAS with a live audience and Maya Goodfellow, author of ‘Hostile Environment: How immigrants became scapegoats’.
It’s one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. But unlike the phone, the car, computers and indoor plumbing, the weekend is still stuck in the 1930s. As productivity increased, the promise of shorter working hours always seemed just out of reach. But now, there’s a campaign to make the 4-day week a reality within our lifetimes. Obviously many people would love to work less. But what would it mean for the economy? And what would it take to make it a reality? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Alfie Stirling, Head of Economics and Aidan Harper, Researcher at the New Economics Foundation.
Peter Urwin is joined by economist Vicky Pryce to talk about her latest book, discussing gender equality. Vicky argues we cannot rely on the free market to bring about gender equality. In theory we might expect discrimination to be short-lived in competitive markets, as it is an inefficient use of resources; this is clearly not happening, however, and Vicky makes a strong case for more forceful intervention to rectify the market failures that perpetuate gender inequality. An inherent short-termism in the capitalist system, a continuing level of support for motherhood that is insufficient, and various conscious/unconscious forms of bias all contribute to this failure of markets. The proposed solutions are radical, but without significant public intervention we will continue to waste vast amounts of female potential.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to Sam Friedman, Associate Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and a member of the Social Mobility Commission. Sam explains his recent research highlighting how those from working class backgrounds find themselves earning less than colleagues from more privileged families, even when they have the same qualifications and work in the same elite professions. Going beyond the numbers to understand this ‘class pay gap’, Sam describes the numerous interviews he undertook with elite professionals from different backgrounds and what this revealed about the hidden mechanisms that operate, often rewarding privilege rather than merit or ability. The discussion then moves on to the dominance of private schools – and especially a particular group of private schools – in the elite strata of society and considers the sorts of policies that might help to make Britain a more meritocratic society.
It's fair to say environmental issues have moved to the forefront of the agenda in recent times. This week, editor Simon Lambert, assistant editor Lee Boyce and host Georgie Frost take a look at potential changes you can make to help the pound in your pocket turn a little greener. Simon explains his rallying cry for us to be his acronym 'Layby' rather than being labelled 'Nimbys'. Layby – or look after your back yard – is a movement to look after the country we live in. When it comes to investing, there is a growing movement where savers who want to combat climate change invest a small amount of money in the very companies eco-activists traditionally rally against, such as fossil fuel giants Shell and BP – so why? What can you do to be a more eco-friendly tourist? And finally… it's hard enough trying to predict how rapidly a normal car will depreciate, but estimating the loss of value of an electric vehicle is a whole other ball game. We reveal all.
If you’ve been listening to the Weekly Economics Podcast for a while, you’ll know that we think there’s much more to economics than GDP. But it still dominates the way politicians and much of the press talk about the economy. Now though, there are lots of new proposals for measuring what counts. So what should replace GDP? And how would it change society? That’s our big question today, that Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is discussing with Guardian economics correspondent Richard Partington and NEF fellow Annie Quick.
Ayeisha Thomas-Smith, Richard Partington, Annie Quick
The polls show that while previous generations became more conservative with age, millennials are staying left wing for longer. And age and education now seem to be the big dividing line in our politics, replacing class as the key division. So what’s going on? And what are the political implications of Generation Left? That’s our big question on the Weekly Economics Podcast this week and to help us answer it, Ayeisha is joined by Keir Milburn, author of Generation Left, and lecturer in political economy and organisation at University of Leicester, and Shelly Asquith, a political advisor at Unite the Union.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson discuss the recently published ‘Augar Review’ of Post-18 education and funding; explaining what it is, how it came about, and what the main recommendations are. Franz and Matt consider the impact changes the HE funding system might have on students, in particular whether this would be a good or bad thing for social mobility, and whether or not politics may intervene to prevent these recommendations being implemented in any case. In light of recent public debate around whether social mobility should even be a policy objective, the discussion moves on to considering what social mobility entails and how it relates to the broader concept of social justice.
It’s been a busy year for the climate movement since last summer’s scorching heatwave. Extinction Rebellion shut down the streets, the school strikes saw thousands of young people take a stand, and the Green New Deal has shot to the top of the political agenda – for now, at least. Last month Parliament passed a motion to declare an ‘environment and climate change emergency’. Meanwhile, Theresa May is trying to use the last weeks of her premiership to build some sort of legacy, including a new target for net zero climate emissions by 2050. So, against that backdrop, what should the climate movement do next? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined this week by Hannah Martin from Greenpeace and Green New Deal UK.