Category Economics

Can neoliberalism make us embrace risk?

One of the most powerful observations of Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee’s Poor Economics is that most people in the developing world don’t want to be entrepreneurs, even many of those who are self-employed. Instead, most people, if they can find it, want the security and stability of a well-paid salaried job, ideally working for […]

the ‘fit to work’ test: Another argument for the basic income?

Regardless of how many people it has or hasn’t killed, the UK government’s ‘fit to work’ test is clearly pretty nasty. Work Capability Assessments (WCA), as they are formally known, assess eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the main state benefit for those out of work through disability. The tactlessness with which these tests […]

budget 2015: george osborne turns against bullshit jobs?

On most accounts, George Osborne’s greatest success as British Chancellor has been overseeing a dramatic decline in unemployment, while his greatest failure has been the stagnation of productivity. Many have argued that these two phenomena are linked, with Osborne himself suggesting there is a trade-off: Mr Osborne said one of the side-effects of Britain’s stellar […]

UKIP or the Greens: Who are really saying the unsayable?

Amidst their recent popularity, the United Kingdom Independence Party has tried to encourage the perception that they stand outside the established political consensus, offering arguments and perspectives neglected by mainstream political debate. This of course, is at odds with the fact that support for most UKIP policies can be found in the mainstream rightwing press […]

A tax on conspicuous consumption?

In a recent Vox article, Matthew Yglesias argues for punitive income and inheritance taxes. His logic is that these taxes can have benefits beyond just raising government revenue – by deterring the high pay and large bequests that encourage socially harmful inequality, they can be beneficial even if nobody pays them.Yglesisas repurposes the reasoning that […]

The Misleading Rhetoric of the ‘Global Race’

The idea that Britain is involved in a ‘global race’ which it will ‘lose’ to other countries unless the necessary reforms are undertaken has been a staple of Conservative party rhetoric for the past 18 months. Numerous commentators have reviewed and ridiculed the phenomenon, with critics typically returning to two objections. Firstly, there is the […]

What does people analytics mean for social justice?

  2013 has seen growing interest in the idea of ‘people analytics’ – informally described as the application of ‘Moneyball’ to corporate HR, but more formally defined as the use of predictive statistical analysis to inform the recruitment and assessment in workers. Just as sports teams are increasingly attuned to the power of statistics in […]

Privatised Healthcare: What Would We Lose?

  Contrasting the different challenges facing British and American healthcare, Janet Daley attacks the “anachronistic and unsatisfactory” arrangement of a “state-owned-and-run monopoly of medical provision”. This throws up a number of obvious issues around the equity, efficiency and sustainability of these different models. But even aside from the questions of whether state run healthcare is […]

Should fewer people be encouraged to go to university?

The obvious conclusion to draw from Allister Heath’s claim that the fastest job growth over the next few years will be in occupations that that don’t require university degrees is that fewer people should be encouraged to go to university. That’s certainly the spin put on it by Heath’s sub-editor, who headlined the piece, “Tell […]

Should votes be for sale?

Ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. Presidential election, Stephen Levitt, citing the work of Glen Weyl, has made a provocative suggestion for improving the electoral process – people should be permitted to vote multiple times, paying increasingly higher fees for each additional vote. I’m attracted to this idea because it addresses one of the major drawbacks of […]