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.
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 Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to Arnaud Chevalier, Professor of Economics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Franz and Matt start by asking Arnaud about several of his projects examining how parents influence their children’s educational attainment, as well as why the fall of the Berlin wall led to a dip in school results. The discussion then moves on to higher education; Arnaud explaining how the ethnic and linguistic mix in a classroom impacts attainment, with wider implications for managing migration. Finally, Franz and Matt talk to Arnaud about his work on the MMR vaccine crisis of the late 1990s – and how education impacted responses to public health information. Plus, we hear Franz’s musings on a possible alternative life as a farmer…
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to John Jerrim, Professor of Education and Social Statistics at the Institute of Education, University College London. Matt and Franz begin by asking John about his recent research into ‘overclaiming’ – otherwise known as ‘bullshitting’ (!) – amongst students, and how the findings give potential insights into some of the patterns of labour market outcomes we observe in the UK. John then discusses some of his cross-country comparative work and explains the “Great Gatsby Curve”; linking a country’s level of income inequality and degree of social mobility, and the role of education within the relationship. The programme ends with a discussion of the role of academic quantitative social scientists in informing public policy, how evidence can be mishandled, and how academic practice and the interface with policy might be improved to the benefit of all.
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 look back at some of their favourite episodes from 2019, highlighting the things they found most interesting – and in some cases depressing! – about the research findings shared by a selection of different guests.
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.