Department of Economics

Happy employees and their impact on firm performance

A growing number of companies claim to place a high priority on the wellbeing of their workers – and there is a fast-growing industry of firms selling products related to employee wellbeing. But does investing in employee wellbeing actually lead to higher productivity and are there any tangible benefits to the business bottom line? Experimental evidence such as Oswald […]

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    Workers would give up half their hourly wages in exchange for a steady job

Workers would give up half their hourly wages in exchange for a steady job

The past two decades have seen a large increase in the number of workers engaged in “atypical” work arrangements. This type of work includes employment like zero-hour contracts (ZHCs), gig work such as driving an uber or taskrabbiting, and various types of other self-employment like freelancing. In the UK, the proportion of solo self-employed (e.g. freelancers, contractors, gig and […]

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    What happens to people’s careers when demand for their occupations declines?

What happens to people’s careers when demand for their occupations declines?

Technological change facilitates long run growth, but labour-replacing technologies are often perceived as a threat to the livelihood of workers. The recent wave of technologies is no longer confined to replacing routine workers such as machine operative and clerical workers: it could well reduce the employment of, among others, drivers, lawyers, and even fashion designers. Since more occupations are […]

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    When firms have asymmetric market power, stronger multilateral cooperation is needed

When firms have asymmetric market power, stronger multilateral cooperation is needed

The opinion on the benefits of free trade, and of multilateral agreements, which are free trade’s preferred policy companion, has changed through history. After having enjoyed some decades of favour, the support to multilateralism (and free trade) seems to be declining. The theoretical premise that the free market equilibrium is efficient is the basis for multilateralism. Economists learn in […]

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    Apprenticeships bring returns for young people with low-medium qualifications

Apprenticeships bring returns for young people with low-medium qualifications

In recent times, there has been a policy drive to increase the number of people undertaking apprenticeships in England and there are plans to dramatically change the post-16 system, which would include making apprenticeships a more important part of it. This raises the question as to how beneficial apprenticeships are to young people currently.

In our paper, we use administrative […]

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    Millennials are some of the worst hit by social mobility decline in the UK

Millennials are some of the worst hit by social mobility decline in the UK

Comparing the standard of living today with that of the past is crucial to understanding the UK’s economic and social health. In fact, both in our everyday lives and in studies of social sciences, we often assess economic progress by comparing our standard of living to that of our parents. A recent poll by Ipsos Mori shows that only […]

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    The cost of discrimination against senior Jewish managers in Nazi Germany

The cost of discrimination against senior Jewish managers in Nazi Germany

Talented individuals are often excluded from leadership positions if they belong to a group that faces discrimination. Such discrimination is, of course, extremely hurtful and unfair to the individuals. But is it also costly in a more general sense?

In particular, do corporations 
become less profitable when they adopt discriminatory attitudes and exclude highly qualified individuals from leadership roles? How […]

The value of having a view to a canal

Britain has an extensive canal and navigable river network, which played a vital role in transporting goods from the Industrial Revolution through the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. Their use for transporting freight had all but disappeared by the mid-20th century, and many had fallen into disrepair or been abandoned. Since then, the canal and […]

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    As the Phoenicians sailed across the Mediterranean, they spread mice and growth

As the Phoenicians sailed across the Mediterranean, they spread mice and growth

While economists extol the virtues of trade, advocates of free trade face stiff political headwinds these days. The economic ideas for the benefits of trade go back more than 200 years
 to Adam Smith and David Ricardo, but empirical evidence for these benefits has been much harder to come by and is much more recent.

In particular, empirical economists have […]

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    Gutenberg’s moving type propelled Europe towards the scientific revolution

Gutenberg’s moving type propelled Europe towards the scientific revolution

Fundamental changes in information technologies have profound implications for labour markets, for the production and spread of knowledge, and for the evolution of politics and beliefs. But competition among producers also influences the use of these technologies and their impact on multiple dimensions of life. The introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press crystallised these dynamics and profoundly shaped the long-run […]

Legalising cannabis reduced the use of cash in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on June 20th 2018 that recreational cannabis would become legal in Canada as of October 17th. The major social policy change formed part of the general election platform for Trudeau’s Liberal Party in 2015, which suggested that “To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of […]

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    Brexit: New UK investments in the EU are growing, while new EU investments here fall

Brexit: New UK investments in the EU are growing, while new EU investments here fall

The UK’s vote to leave the EU has generated fears that UK firms are moving investment abroad because of Brexit. For example, media reports have documented that both large UK companies such as Barclays, HSBC and EasyJet, and smaller companies such as Crust & Crumb, a Northern Irish pizza maker, have invested in the EU27 in response to Brexit.

Has […]

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    Income inequality: firms have been reducing profit-sharing with workers

Income inequality: firms have been reducing profit-sharing with workers

Stagnating real wages and falling labour shares across developed economies have stimulated a renewed interest in the question of how, and to what extent, rents are shared with labour. Nicholas Kaldor’s (1957) long-held stylised fact that the fraction of national income going to labour is fixed has been questioned, for instance, by Karabarbounis and Neiman (2014), who show that the global labour […]

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    The challenge of dealing with ‘double disruption’: Brexit and technology

The challenge of dealing with ‘double disruption’: Brexit and technology

Our work at the Institute for the Future of Work (IFOW) has been focusing on two major forces of disruption that the UK economy is experiencing. The first, Brexit, will involve a sharp change in the structure of economic activity. Membership of the European Union has shaped the British model of capitalism and the structure, and operation, of core industrial […]

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    Resist, rebel and remain: why MPs should vote down this Brexit deal

Resist, rebel and remain: why MPs should vote down this Brexit deal

Members of Parliament’s vote on British Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s Brexit deal today. Without hesitation, they should vote it down.

More and more people have realised that Brexit was built on a fantasy that we could keep all the benefits of being in the European club without paying any of the membership fees – what leading Brexiter Boris Johnson called […]

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    The economic consequences of the Brexit deal: the case of trade

The economic consequences of the Brexit deal: the case of trade

The UK and EU have reached a Brexit deal. But what will the withdrawal agreement mean for the UK economy? To address this question we have analysed how the withdrawal deal and a no-deal scenario would affect income per capita in the UK, relative to the baseline of staying in the EU, through changes in trade costs.

Scenario 1: The […]

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    The tale of two Davids (Cameron and Beckham) and our social mobility problem

The tale of two Davids (Cameron and Beckham) and our social mobility problem

One David was born in a terraced house in East London, his father a kitchen fitter, his mother a hairdresser. The other David grew up in an idyllic village in the English countryside, his father a stockbroker, his mother the daughter of a baronet. The first David left school at 16 without any qualifications; the second studied at Eton […]

Universities and industrial strategy in the UK

The UK has a world-leading university sector and this has a key role to play in moving the country onto an inclusive and sustainable growth path. Universities can make important contributions across the five foundations that underpin the government’s industrial strategy:

Universities support the productivity and prospects for ‘people’ through the education of students and the nurturing of researchers.
[…]

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    Developing an effective local industrial strategy for the UK

Developing an effective local industrial strategy for the UK

The UK’s poor productivity performance has been the source of much debate and policy focus over the last few years. Without an increase in productivity, we won’t see rising wages or higher standards of living. Against a backdrop of continued wage stagnation and huge variations in productivity across the country, the government has invited local leaders up and down […]

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    Should Chinese citizens be kept away from sensitive research at US universities?

Should Chinese citizens be kept away from sensitive research at US universities?

The Trump administration 
is considering measures to restrict Chinese citizens from performing sensitive research at American universities and research institutions. The boycott appears to
 be motivated by fears that Chinese researchers may be carrying out espionage activities and handing over sensitive US discoveries to the Chinese government.

The exact details of the restrictions
 are still under discussion but they would […]