In this episode, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha are joined by Sonia Bhalotra, Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick. Sonia has a prodigious volume of research on topics relating to the creation of human capital, early child development, gender inequality, intergenerational mobility, and the impact of early life health on later life outcomes.
Sonia discusses her research on the impact of the advent of antibiotics in the US in the 1930s on child pneumonia, and how this had long-lasting impacts on children’s education and labour market outcomes. She explains how improvements in child health and mortality have implications not just for the children themselves, but also for women’s fertility decisions and labour supply.
The discussion then turns to the trade-off between the “quality” and the quantity of children that a family have – including the surprising news that having twins is not as random as we might have assumed. Finally, they touch on Sonia’s research into the long-term benefits of treating maternal depression, which highlights how a non-drug therapy can have profound and long-lasting impact on maternal health and wellbeing.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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.