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 look back at more of their favourite episodes from 2019, 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 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.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson discuss how science funding in the UK is disbursed to Universities. They examine what the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is and how it affects the work behaviours and career prospects of modern academics. Franz and Matt discuss the impact of metrics for evaluation purposes and consider how they are personally affected by the various University evaluation schemes such as REF, TEF and KEF. They also discuss the concept of ‘impact’ and how it encourages academics to go beyond their ‘ivory towers’ and engage society with their research.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Rachel Aldred, Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster. Franz and Matt discuss with Rachel the benefits and risks of cycling in the UK and touch on subjects such as cultural differences in cycling behaviour across countries, what we might learn from such comparisons and how risky walking and cycling are in the UK. Rachel outlines early results from an evaluation of the ‘Mini-Hollands’ scheme that seeks to emulate planning and infrastructure development from the Netherlands in three outer London boroughs. The discussion then moves to the measurement of traffic injuries and to what extent concerns about pollution might influence cycling behaviour. Finally, Rachel contextualises recent government policy and how future government policy might be shaped around cycling.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Alex Bryson, Professor of Quantitative Social Science at University College London. Alex is one of the UK’s leading figures in sports economics and he firstly explains what sports economics is and how it can be used to draw policy inferences in other more familiar areas of economics. Franz, Matt and Alex then discuss the findings of Alex’s paper looking at whether people discriminate against black players when picking their ‘fantasty football’ team and what this might tell us about labour market discrimination. How football referees’ performances are impacted by their employment contract and how having 50,000 vocal fans scrutinising their decisions affects their decision-making are other topics under discussion. Finally, Alex explains how data from baseball can help us understand individual effort choices when working as part of a team.
This episode is a special edition of Policy Matters, looking back at some of the highlights from the last year. We revisit our discussions of social mobility in general and the role of vocational education in particular, along with more recent conversations on the economics of crime and the economics of happiness. Franz and Matt will be back with more episodes of Policy Matters in 2019.