Archive for the Behavioural Economics Category

Economics has a lesson for Remainers and lockdown-lovers who refuse to let facts change their minds

Economics has a lesson for Remainers and lockdown-lovers who refuse to let facts change their minds

Christmas is a time to be charitable. So let’s spare a thought for those who fought against the referendum result. Unlike the great unwashed, who simply didn’t understand the issues they were voting on, they had all been expensively educated at the right sort of schools and

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Hurrah for a vaccine — but was lockdown actually worth it?

Hurrah for a vaccine — but was lockdown actually worth it?

The development of the vaccines has changed many things. It has even influenced the opinion of the Prince of Lockdown himself, health secretary Matt Hancock. Life, he pronounced at the weekend, would be back to normal by the spring and the “blasted regulations” abolished. But one thing

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Economics lessons from history: Don’t expect a post-Covid boom

Economics lessons from history: Don’t expect a post-Covid boom

Just over 200 years ago, the finances of the British government looked even more parlous than they do today. Since the mid-1790s, the country had been engaged in a titanic struggle with Napoleon’s France. To pay for the conflict, the government had borrowed on a massive scale.

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Forget the polls endorsing lockdowns and look at how people actually behave

Forget the polls endorsing lockdowns and look at how people actually behave

Economics is at long last storming the bastions of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). This citadel of epidemiologists and health professionals has for many months resisted the lessons which the so-called gloomy science can bring. In the context of Covid-19, economics is in fact a

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The government must take back control of the Covid narrative

The government must take back control of the Covid narrative

The word “narrative” is usually seen as being a posh way of saying “story”. But the idea of narratives is one which is gaining traction in economics. Last year, for example, Nobel laureate Robert Shiller of Yale published a book entitled “Narrative Economics”.  He argued that it

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And this week’s winner for the Stupid Scientist award is…

And this week's winner for the Stupid Scientist award is...

Scepticism about the advice given by government scientists about Covid-19 is rising sharply. In areas like Bolton infections are high. Interviews with the locals reveal that so, too, is disbelief in the veracity of the statements made by members of SAGE, the government science advisory group. The

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Incentives are a better way to tackle Covid-19 than blanket lockdowns

Incentives are a better way to tackle Covid-19 than blanket lockdowns

A great deal of government policy during the Covid crisis has involved regulation. Given a choice, economists usually prefer to use incentives. Altering the relative costs and benefits of an action is a well-established way to alter behaviour. Perhaps the government has been listening. A big stick

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The national productivity recovery depends on getting people back to the office

The national productivity recovery depends on getting people back to the office

Office workers continue to display reluctance to return to their workplaces, despite encouragement from the government for them to head back. The immediate consequences for the service jobs in cities which depend on people commuting into the office are apparent, hence the government drive. But is office

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Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Another day, another lurid, headline-grabbing number of deaths to expect from Covid-19. This time, it was a study from the Academy of Medical Sciences. A second wave, we were warned, could kill 120,000 this winter in hospitals alone. To be fair, this study was a projection rather

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Office clusters are as crucial to productivity as they ever were

Office clusters are as crucial to productivity as they ever were

The Prime Minister is now demanding that offices reopen to revive economic activity in the centres of towns and cities. But there is not much sign of a return to work. The preferences of the workforce are an important factor in the very slow pace of return.

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