Archive for the Behavioural Economics Category

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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History shows us that slavery is an economic catastrophe as well as a moral one

History shows us that slavery is an economic catastrophe as well as a moral one

Slavery has certainly been in the headlines in the past couple of weeks. Given this sudden interest in this area of history, it is worth considering the economic lessons it can teach us, as well as the moral ones. Slavery was abolished in England itself in the

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What can we learn from the Black Death? Be prepared, trust entrepreneurs, and have faith

What can we learn from the Black Death? Be prepared, trust entrepreneurs, and have faith

Can we learn from history? An excellent book by Ben Gummer on the Black Death in fourteenth century Britain, The Scourging Angel, shows that we can. Published 10 years ago, the book offers many intriguing parallels with the Covid-19 crisis. Of course, the Black Death was almost

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Mythbusting coronavirus is vital for life to go back to normal

Mythbusting coronavirus is vital for life to go back to normal

As the government plans the timetable for getting Britain back to work, opinion polls continue to show strong support for the lockdown. An Opinium poll at the weekend is typical. Unsurprisingly, given the overwhelming scientific evidence on dangers associated with large gatherings, a massive 84 per cent

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Coronavirus: Economists have a role to play in recovery

Coronavirus: Economists have a role to play in recovery

Lockdowns are starting to be eased in Europe. Austria, Denmark, Italy and Spain are all moving back towards normality. At some point during May, the UK will follow. We can reflect on what the government has got right and wrong so far in the opening phase of

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