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.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Sarah Brown, Professor of Economics at the University of Sheffield and an independent commissioner for the Low Pay Commission. Franz and Matt highlight the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the national minimum wage and discuss with Sarah how the policy has worked out for the UK. The role and importance of the Low Pay Commission in informing minimum wage policy is explored and questions are asked as to what the future may hold for the minimum wage. The discussion then moves to the topic of household finances and how people with different personality traits make financial decisions and the implications this may have for policy.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to Carol Propper, Professor of Economics at Imperial College London and a former Senior Economic Advisor to the NHS Executive on Regulation of the NHS Internal Market. We might not immediately think of economists when we think about healthcare, but Carol explains how economists can help with the design of a healthcare system that will produce the health outcomes that we would all want, taking into account the incentives faced by the various people and institutions involved. Matt, Franz and Carol discuss socio-economic inequalities in health and their relationship with healthcare before Carol gives us her prescription for the NHS and looks ahead to how future research might help improve healthcare in this country.