Research

How economists can shape the post-lockdown world

Summary The seminal work on epidemiological models was carried out in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The models have developed substantially since then, but their key drivers are still essentially those discovered nearly a century ago. Epidemiological models do have real scientific value. But any forecast made with them must rely on assumptions about ... Continue reading
Research

Myths about public health spending

Summary The coronavirus outbreak in Britain has raised questions about the use of public health resources and about the costs and benefits of the ‘lockdown’. It has been argued that the government’s response to the epidemic was weakened by cuts to the public health budget. It is widely believed that spending on public health saves ... Continue reading
Research
Summary Laws passed in late March 2020 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic are the greatest restrictions on liberty in modern British history. Any benefits that have emerged as a side effect of the restrictions have been far exceeded by the costs to the economy and to civil liberties. Civil society and the media should ... Continue reading
Research

The history and economics of pandemics

Summary Pandemics (a term with a precise and technical definition) are a recurring feature of human history. In the modern world, since the 1770s, we have had a series of pandemics, with a series of cholera ones in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and a series of five influenza ones since 1890. Further back ... Continue reading
Research
Summary Advocates of minimum pricing predicted that it would have an almost immediate impact in Scotland, with modelling forecasting 58 fewer deaths and 1,299 fewer hospital admissions in the first year. In the eight months after minimum pricing was introduced, alcohol-related mortality fell at the same rate in Scotland as it did in England and ... Continue reading
Research

Why we can't all work from home

In recent years there has been a trend towards greater incidence of homeworking. This has been driven by enhanced technological possibilities, but also by supply and demand factors as employers try to save on office costs and workers seek to reduce travelling time and have a different work-life balance. There is some evidence that homeworking ... Continue reading
Research

Analysing Britain's regulatory burden

In our political discourse there is much discussion of red tape, frequently phrased in terms of ‘challenges’ and ‘bonfires’ to reduce and cut it. Supporters of free markets often have a general feeling that there is too much regulation or that it is too intrusive, badly formulated and ineffective. However, proponents of these positions are ... Continue reading
Research

A critique of paternalism

A ban on opening a new supermarket is evidence that people want a new supermarket, for if they did not there would be no need for a ban. The same is true of chlorinated chicken, gambling machines and many other products and activities that we are told need to be banned or restricted. It is ... Continue reading