In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson are joined by Colin Green, Professor of Economics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Colin’s research interests cover a range of areas in applied economics and public policy, including education, the labour market, health, personnel economics, and political science. We first hear from Colin about how the pandemic has been in Norway over the last year and how this compares to the experience in the UK and in his home country of Australia. This leads into discussion of Colin’s research on the impact of the London congestion charge on traffic accidents in the city and some of the intended and unintended consequences for pollution.
Next, we hear about the relationship between the election of anti-immigration politicians in Italy and the location decisions of migrants, before Colin tells us about the positive long-term impacts immigration can have on an area’s social capital, exploiting a specific migration event into Italy during the 16th Century. Colin then sheds light on why the performance-related pay element in Franz’s employment contract might not be the best thing for his health, before the programme closes with a discussion of Colin’s research on the concerning relationships between MPs’ jobs outside parliament, their involvement in law-making, and the economic value of the firms for whom they work.
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 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 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 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.
In this episode of Policy Matters, Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha join the show from their respective homes as the country continues to adjust to life and work during lockdown. With the global COVID-19 pandemic currently dominating almost all policy areas, Franz and Matt discuss how different countries have tackled the outbreak and what lessons can be drawn from the more successful approaches. They move on to explore the economic impacts that have been seen already, the rationale behind the Government’s unprecedented series of economic policy interventions, and what we can learn from previous recessions about how we might get out of the one we’re now in. They also ponder the likely effects of the crisis on the labour market – in particular, the graduate labour market.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to ... Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha! It’s been a while since we talked about the policy-relevant research that we are currently pursuing both together and individually, so we take some time to find out what is floating our research boats. Matt talks about a couple of research projects looking at the impact of education on labour market and health outcomes – using different “natural experiments” to try to identify how much education actually affects these things. Franz then tells us about his recent research project on the geography of social mobility in the UK, exploring the nuanced story of social mobility differences between, and within, regions. The discussion concludes with consideration of recent developments in data availability and how that can benefit researchers and policymakers going forward.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Gemma Tetlow, Chief Economist at the Institute for Government. Gemma was previously the economics correspondent at the Financial Times and also worked for many years as an academic economist and so has broad experience of economists’ work from a variety of angles. Firstly, Gemma discusses the work of the Institute, and how the demands that Brexit has placed on the government has hindered domestic policymaking. Given her experience as both a researcher and economic journalist, Franz and Matt go on to discuss with Gemma how economics is reported in the media, the difficulty of explaining the complexities of the economy in ‘public-friendly’ ways and what economists can learn in this area from other sciences. The discussion then turns to thinking about how economists interact with policymakers and how this has evolved over time, before Gemma talks about the policies that she would like to see considered in public and policy debate, whoever is developing the domestic policy agenda in the post-Brexit UK.
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.
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