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Local Schools policy drives inequality in the UK

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

I love a story that really can resonate with students and get them 'irked'.  It struck me yesterday that reading about a recent Bristol University research paper that claims that school admission policies lead to greater inequality might strike a chord with some young people.

The study suggests that the common policy in the UK of prioritizing admission places in primary and secondary schools based upon how close a student lives to that school continues a cycle of inequality.  The argument is that, wealthier people are more able to afford to move to areas with higher performing schools and so are more inclined to do so.  People without that facility have less choice in where to send their children and may have to stick with local schools despite their relative poor performance.  So the cycle continues ..... poorer people receive a poorer quality education and are therefore less equipped to get the necessary qualifications to earn higher wages.

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Open Data:  Britain leads the world

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The UK economy is doing well. Even so, it is not often that we are placed unequivocally at the top of a world ranking of any kind. But a team of economists led by Nicholas Gruen of Lateral Economics in Melbourne has done just that. In their recent report on the economic potential created by the concept of open data, it turns out that the UK government has been leading the world. On the Open Data Index, we score 100 compared to America’s 93. There is then a big gap to the next group, Australia, Canada and Germany, placed in the high 60s.

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Unit 1 Micro: Housing Market Failure

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Here is an updated revision presentation covering aspects of market imperfections / market failure in the UK housing industry. 

I have also linked to a recent presentation on the economics of rent controls.

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Unit 3 Micro: Revision on the Private Finance Initiative

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Here is a short revision presentation covering aspects of the Private Finance Initiative - which figures on unit 3 for EdExcel micro economics

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Unit 4 Macro: Brazil’s Unfinished Mega Railroad

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Government failure and the harm it can wreak on local communities is evident in this short piece from the New York Times

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Unit 1 Micro: AS Micro Revision Quiz 4

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Here are twelve more questions covering markets and market failure - test your understanding with this zondle-powered quiz!

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F585 Pre-Release Resources (and F583, F582 & F581 too)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I thought it worthwhile sharing my resources which I have been collecting for students (and teachers alike). I have been promoting them on Twitter (@Economics_KSF) through scoop.it but for those of you not on there, the link for the scoop.it boards are here:

http://www.scoop.it/u/economics-kcsf

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Government underestimates the amount of student loans that are likely to be paid back

Friday, February 14, 2014

According to a report published by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, the Government are currently underestimating how many students will actually pay back their university loans over the coming decades.  Currently, the Government estimates that between 35 and 40% of loans to Higher Education students are never paid back - the Committee believes that the rate on non-repayment is much higher and reflects a weakness in the loan collection method.  The primary reason for non-repayment is that student details get lost over a period of time particularly if the graduate moves and works abroad or was an EU citizen who has returned to their own country.  The method of using the income tax registration process as a way of locating former students has been criticized for not being an effective method of collecting information.  It is estimated that the shortfall could be as much as £80 million by 2042.

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Energy companies charge cash-paying customers more - market failure and Government intervention

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

If you attended the recent tutor2u revision conferences for up-coming micro-economic exams (look out for the macro workshops and combined micro and macro to come in March) you will have seen how fuel-pricing was used as an example of market failure, government intervention strategies and government failure.  

Fortunately, the energy market is a gift that keeps giving to us in the economics world (every cloud has a silver lining) as a report out today (see this link for the BBC version of the story) indicates that Parliament is about to intervene to try and stop the energy companies charging more to customers who pay by cash rather than by direct debit (£114 per year, according to the report).

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Government looks to abandon use of Microsoft Office to save money

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It was announced yesterday that the Government is planning to abandon its use of expensive software such as Microsoft Office (see article in the Guardian here) partly as a way of reducing costs but also as a means of breaking some of the software company's 'oligopolistic' stranglehold on the market.

As well as offering an example of Government policy to combat market failure, this story gives us a little insight into the issue of contestability in the software industry.

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Unit 1 Micro: Revision on Government Intervention

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Here are somr revision resources on government intervention in markets. There are some revision notes, a streamed revision video from PJ Holden and then ten questions for students wanting to check their understanding on government intervention in markets

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Information failure in the NHS

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The NHS gives us so much value, as Economics teachers, as it serves as a great example of so many areas of theory. The story which heads up the BBC News site this morning is another useful one: NHS waiting time data for elective surgery has been found to be 'unreliable'

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Government help for exports - could do better?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This report which the Public Accounts Committee published on Friday, entitled Supporting UK exporters overseas, gives a useful piece of background reading, as it marries up AS and A2 level theory, and micro and macro topics. It looks at the combined efforts of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Industry to help UK firms, particularly small and medium sized businesses, boost their exports and so contribute to UK GDP recovery. The summary of the report on the PAC website could be used by students to consider a couple of questions:

How many examples of government failure can you identify?

Given that the UK does not currently use monetary policy to influence the exchange rate, what mix of government policies might be used in order to meet the target of doubling exports by 2020?

Energy saving tips from the Government - effective Government intervention

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Proposing Government intervention strategies for dealing with externality market failure is a common enough exam question.  Many of my students will concentrate on the use of indirect taxation, subsidies, pollution permits or regulation as a method of reducing consumption - often forgetting that the Government can use good, old-fashioned advice as a way of altering purchasing patterns.

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The NHS: Blinded By Love

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The NHS is part of the British establishment just as much as tea, talking about the weather and sarcasm. This view through rose-tinted spectacles has prevented serious debate and clouded our judgment. Foreign visitors are now being charged to use our A & E services, yet they can still see GP's for free. This ludicrous half measure is just one example that we are blinded by love for our NHS. A situation has arisen in which any attempt from politicians to discuss much needed improvements for the current healthcare system is political suicide. This is hindering development.

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The Blunders of Governments

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Most first year Economics students consider government intervention and government failure as key topics in their introductory microeconomics course. Finding compelling examples of state blunders is not that difficult but understanding how the complexity of the government apparatus lies behind failures of project and policy requires digging deeper.

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Unit 4 Macro: Daron Acemoglu – Institutional Development

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In a recent assignment, A2 students were asked to write a 500 word profile on each of two development economists of their choice and to capture their key ideas and connect to one or more current issues in development. I will be adding some of their responses to the economics blog. Here Ben Evans focuses on the work of Daron Acemoglu

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Quis custodiet?  Put the regulators on trial if they screw up

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Treasury’s amendments to the Banking Reform Bill mean that senior bankers could face up to seven years in jail for ‘reckless misconduct’ which leads to the collapse of a bank. Certainly, the behaviour of prominent individuals in the run up to the crisis left much to be desired. If only we could have put a few of them on show trial in 2009 and given them 20 years in jail, regardless of their objective guilt! But this option was never available, we live under the rule of law.

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Free market economics: Privatisation

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Many of you starting out on Economics programmes will quickly hit on this topic. Is it wise to take a 'free market' or Laisser Faire approach to organising the economy? Or should the government be controlling key parts of the economy? This theme is likely to run through the course, as you go on to consider the ways in which government intervention in the economy can make things better - or worse.

Here's the ideal topic to get you thinking. Are industries best managed when they are in the hands of the government (which is often described as nationalised)? Or is it better for them to be run as regular private businesses - that is privatised?

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How Being a Parent Is Like Running a Country

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It occurred to me recently that the way the government tries to control the population, by encouraging and discouraging certain activities, is rather like the way in which I, as a parent, try to control my child.

For instance:

Legislation – Setting rules

Imprisonment – Grounding

Fines – Reducing pocket money

Providing information – Using examples from experience, educating

Subsidising – Helping towards payment

State Provision – Buying things for my children

For example, I don’t want my daughter to smoke, drink or take drugs, so what do I do to prevent this? I will provide her with plenty of information as to why she shouldn’t partake in these activities, should she do it anyway, I’ll probably ban these products from my house and also reduce her pocket money in order to prevent her from buying them.

How does the Government try to prevent its citizens from smoking drinking and taking drugs? Well, it provides us with information, legislates against it, setting age limits and laws to try to prevent excessive consumption, and places large levies on alcohol and tobacco products to try to discourage consumption, something akin to what I am putting into place.

Will it work?

In some cases, yes, in others, no and the combination of controls will probably vary for each individual, but as a parent I only really get one chance to get it right for each child, the Government, however, can play the percentage game.

Bringing up children is not all about steering your child away from negativity, much as the Government also wants us to do positive things with our lives. For example:

I see education as quite important in a child’s life and as such, I will try my best to ensure that my daughter takes advantage of the best education available to her and embraces it. How will I do that? I will insist that she goes to school, as will the Government. I will monitor her progress carefully, as will her schools. I will encourage her to work hard, as will her teachers, and I will provide information as to the positive future that will ensue from her hard work, as will Government initiatives.

So, all in all, I am my daughter’s Government, trying to persuade her to make the correct decisions, in her own best interests. I’m sure that along the way, I’ll make some horrendous mistakes, as I’m sure most students would agree, parents don’t always know the best way to deal with situations, much as Governments don’t, largely down to information failure! I’m sure Sophie will make some choices that I won’t necessarily agree with, but as long as I look at the long term and have a clear direction, hopefully I’ll raise a happy, positive individual, much as the Government wants to do with all of us.

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Unit 4: Introduction of Employment Tribunal fees as a supply-side policy

Monday, July 29, 2013

As of today, any employee wishing to take their employer to an unfair dismissal, unequal pay or sexual discrimination tribunal will have to pay a fee. This fee will not be automatically refunded on a successful tribunal outcome meaning that employees who are making choices about such an action have to be aware of the potential financial cost of such an action.

The government argue that this removes some of the burden of tribunal costs away from tax payers and should also reduce the number of frivolous claims made (and thus reduce a further burden on businesses). As such, you could claim that the tribunal fee represents a supply-side policy by the government - an attempt to improve the efficiency of the operation of businesses by reducing some of the red-tape that can stop a business working effectively (particularly small businesses).

Trade Unions are unhappy about the fee introduction. They argue that it reduces the opportunity for poorer workers (or unemployed people who have lost a job) to seek justice for what may have been unfair treatment. An evaluative argument here, therefore, might suggest that the tribunal fee acts as a barrier to fair pay, particularly in cases of discrimination.

Follow this link for some details as illustrated by the New Statesman.

Unit 1: Cigarettes, demerit goods and government failure

Friday, July 12, 2013

Okay, hands up, how many of you economics teachers use cigarettes as one of your primary examples of a demerit good? Well, it does fit the bill and it gives you the opportunity to give teenagers a bit of a lecture about healthy living (if only the Ofsted inspector was there for that lesson).

The government's announcement today that they are to postpone the introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes is bound to meet with some criticism - many will claim that they are giving in to pressure from a tobacco industry which feels that it is already heavily regulated. The concept is that a standard, plain package will put some people off from purchasing cigarettes as there is some research that says that people are attracted to the branding. Personally, until they put the phrase 'don't listen to your peers, they smell' on the box I'm not convinced the plan would have much impact anyway.

What intrigued me more about this story, is the fact that the government have postponed the plan until the impact of standardised packaging has been more closely studied in Australia (where the policy already exists). So there you go, not only is this a story about cigarettes as a demerit good but it is also an example of the government attempting to avoid policy failure. The government argues that it shouldn't spend money on implementing policies and then policing the tobacco firms and retailers if the impact of the programme is minimal. In a sense, the government are arguing that taking its time over this plan may save money in the long run or enable it to spend its scarce resources on a policy that has more impact.

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Price fixing of chocolates in Canada - oligopolistic collusion

Friday, June 07, 2013

As an example of collusion, this news article showing alleged price fixing by Canadian chocolate manufacturers and their wholesale distributors illustrates how highly-dominant firms can impact against the public interest.

Reading this article and admitting that chocolate is the closest product that I consume which exhibits addictive qualities (apart from coffee and salt-laden crisps that is) it struck me that this perhaps could be used as an evaluative argument when considering the case for legalisation of slightly stronger narcotics.  

One argument for legalising cannabis is that tax revenue can be accrued and there would be a reduction in crime given the lowering of prices (and consequential drop in burglary and stealing to pay for the relatively expensive habit).  

This reduction in price, it could be argued, might only occur if the newly formed legal market for cannabis is highly competitive and doesn't suffer from oligopolistic distribution conditions like chocolate does in Canada (or in the UK, for that matter).

Just a thought.  Now, where's the other half of that Twirl?

Econ3 - Sexism and Ageism alive and well on our TVs

Friday, May 17, 2013

Those of you who are about to take your Econ 3 exam (or whose students are getting ready for the final push), might find this story about sexism in TV an interesting example of inequality in the labour market.  A report out yesterday and being pursued by Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman suggests that a lowly 18% of UK TV presenters over the age of 50 are women.  Some channels are worse than others.

The story is also a good example of how current government intervention in this labour market is having little effect.  Anti-ageist and sexist laws exist and yet there appears a very real 'glass-ceiling' when it comes to women over the age of 50 wishing to work on TV.  If legislation is ineffective what other policies could students suggest might improve the situation?  A quota system?  Fines?  Here is a real chance to offer critical and evaluative analysis on government intervention.

Follow this link to read a report.

The UK Peace Index - highlighting the opportunity cost of violent crime

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm always sightly dubious about statistics and information represented by campaign organisations - I'm left with the reservation that information can presented in any way that you want to prove whatever point that you are trying to make (wasn't it an economist who came up with the phrase 'lies, damned lies and statistics'?).  So this fascinating report from an organisation called 'Vision of Humanity' needs to be looked at with an open mind.

However, if you take it at face value, it offers some really interesting information.

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Unit 1 Micro: Carbon Trading Scheme In Crisis

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The European Union's carbon emissions trading scheme is under huge pressure at the moment and there are many who believe that the market-based system of carbon pricing has effectively collapsed. 

  1. There is a fundamental over-supply of carbon permits in the market - on some estimates, an excess of supply of over 840 million permits (one permit = one tonne of CO2)
  2. This has caused a sharp fall in the market price of carbon to below Euro 5 per tonne
  3. At such low prices there is an incentive to use coal rather than cleaner natural gas for electricity generation 
  4. Latest figures show that greenhouse gas output in Europe fell in 2012 by 1.4% - but this is largely the result of very weak economic growth in the EU
Carbon trading is an important intervention at a European level but the system appears to be flawed and there are very powerful vested interests in the debate - for example the interests of Polish coal mining companies, airlines, producers of renewable energies. What are the alternatives to carbon trading? One is a carbon tax.

(Source: The Economist) - click here

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Unit 2 and Unit 4 Macro: Unicef Child Well-Being Report 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Unicef have just released their latest 'report card' on the relative state of well being among children in 29 of the most wealthy countries.  The report (a full version and a summary) are available from this link.  

The report shows pleasing progress for the UK (our place on the overall ranking has gone up from last place to 16th) with an improvement in obesity levels and a reduction in consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs compared to the 2007 report.

However, worryingly, the UK is ranked 24th in the table with regards to its provision of Education.  The biggest weakness highlighted, is the fact that the UK has one of the lowest percentages of young people continuing with education post 16 (only 74%) and very high levels of young people not in education, employment or training at all (nearly 10%).  Students of economics could use this as evidence of government failure with regards to supply-side policies - with such a low level of participation in comparison to our major competitors can we guarantee that we are developing skills that will allow the economy to grow in the future?  Could your students suggest (and then evaluate) suggestions for how this situation could be remedied?

Unit 1 Micro: Evaluating Government Intervention - Alcohol Pricing

Sunday, April 07, 2013

AS Micro students will be gearing themselves up for a key period of intensive revision over the coming days and weeks. For most, being able to analyse and evaluate government intervention in markets is crucial to scoring well in exam questions and reaching those top grades.

Evaluation is not a skill that can be learnt overnight. It requires plenty of attempts to get the evaluative style and approach working well.

BTW, if you are revising market failure I highly recommend Matt Smith's Scoop.It Board - full of great applied examples on this big area for the Unit 1 economics exam! Click here to view it

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Taxing fizzy drinks? The Obesity Battle

Monday, February 18, 2013

The subject of obesity is an increasingly important topic in the study of market failure. Its consequences are severe and go right to the heart of the ‘inefficient allocation of resources’ economic concept of market failure. Overconsumption of a number of demerit goods are one of the many causes of this growing epidemic and worrying trends and statistics can be found here with this BBC video clip also providing a useful overview on the facts behind global obesity. The UK is one of the most obese nations in the world with about a quarter of adults classed as obese and that figure is predicted to doubly by 2050.


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HS2 The Ultimate Vanity Trainset

Monday, January 28, 2013

Today's announcement of routes for the HS2 project highlights the importance governments ascribe to public works projects.


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Imperfect Information - obesity caused by the same problem as debt!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Given that the increasing concern over obesity (and it's knock-on issues) are fairly prevalent in the news at the moment I thought this article from the Independent may be of interest.  The reporter is linking the causes of obesity and debt together - suggesting that our big problem as an animal is that we don't like to think about the future.  I thought that it was an interesting link, not least because we probably all know that its true! It further illustrates the problem of imperfect information and our inability to consume products that benefit us in the long-run (e.g. pensions) and over-consume those products that we know are not good for us (e.g. 90% of what you have consumed over the last two weeks).

Happy New Year to all Tutor2u blog readers.

Unit 1 Micro: Key Term Glossary - Markets and Market Failure

An updated glossary of key terms for the Unit 1 Economics paper

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Unit 1 Micro: Rent Controls - Evaluating Government Intervention

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Here is a streamed revision presentation on rent controls in the housing market - designed for AS micro students.

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Unit 1 Micro: Markets and Market Failure Concept Glossary

Monday, December 10, 2012

An A-Z glossary for the Unit 1 Micro course

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Workplace Discrimination

Friday, December 07, 2012


Employment Rate Employment Rate Unemployment Rate Unemployment Rate Inactivity Rate Inactivity Rate

MEN WOMEN MEN WOMEN MEN WOMEN
White  76.6% 67.6% 8.3% 6.8% 16.4% 27.5%
Mixed or Multiple  64.3% 55.3% 15.7% 15.8% 23.7% 34.3%
Black 61.4% 55.6% 21.7% 17.7% 21.6% 32.4%
Indian  77.0% 60.6% 8.2% 11.1% 16.2% 31.9%
Pakistani/Bangladeshi 68.7% 28.9% 12.8% 20.5% 21.3% 63.6%
Chinese & Other 67.0% 51.8% 10.3% 10.6% 25.3% 42.1%
Ethnic Minority 68.2% 50.8% 13.2% 14.3% 21.5% 40.8%
All 75.6% 65.6% 8.9% 7.5% 17.0% 29.1%
Source:  Labour Force Survey 2011

If you have seen the news stories today showing how workplace discrimination towards ethnic minority women continues to cause the government concern, you may be interested to read the full report.   It is available from the Runnymede Trust (it requires registration but it is free) and has been written for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community.  There's a brief summary from the BBC, but the full report gives recommendations that you might like to present to students as possible government intervention strategies and get them to evaluate accordingly.  The table above gives you a flavour of the statistics that can be used to discuss inequality of income and wealth.

Waseela-e-Taleem in Pakistan - showing how education is an example of a merit good

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm sure you don't have any problems convincing your students that education is a merit good/service.  Every so often, however, it may be difficult for young people in the UK, aspirational and aiming high, to see how their own learning impacts so positively upon the wider society.  Although we constantly debate the quality of education in the UK and strive to improve, many young people will take opportunities to access schools and colleges for granted - perhaps arguing about local differences and the cost of higher education but rarely about actual access to basic education.  With such relatively high levels of literacy and numeracy amongst British youngsters it is difficult for them to imagine a society where this is not the norm.  The Waseela-e-Taleem initiative in Pakistan, however, could prove a useful example of how government intervention into education is about more than just the structure of assessment and paying teachers - but a country's drive to improve access to basic education and shift its economic as well its political and sociological prospects.

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Paul Ormerod: Corporation tax: fostering the illusions of the electorate that someone else will pay

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Corporation tax is very much in the news.  Starbucks is merely the latest to be in the spotlight, having paid no corporation tax on more than £1billion of sales in the past three years .  This became noteworthy when the Prime Minister himself declared he was unhappy with the level of tax avoidance by big corporations  working in Britain.

The plain fact is that if corporation tax did not exist, it would be madness to introduce it.  The tax plays to the ignorance not only of the general public, but of almost all politicians.  It encourages the fantasy that there is a free lunch, that someone else will pick up the bill for the welfare state and bloated state bureaucracy.

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West Coast Rail Line franchise decision - a fine example of Government failure

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Every cloud has a silver lining!  News reports out today confirmed that the original decision to award the next 15 year franchise of the West Coast Rail line to FirstGroup instead of the incumbent Virgin Rail has been rescinded and the bidding process re-opened at a potential wasted cost of £40 million (by the way, have they fixed that leaky roof at your school yet?).  This may seem like a fiasco to train users and the general public alike but to us Economics teachers it's a super example of government failing to intervene correctly in a market.

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Alcohol as an example of a de-merit good

Sunday, September 30, 2012

You might find this news report from KL.FM  (a radio station in King's Lynn) about the self-regulated sales of 'strong booze' in Ipswich an excellent example of a policy to deal with de-merit goods.  Alcohol is a prime example of a de-merit good and a common student response regarding government policies to reduce its consumption often centres around the use of taxation and age-based prohibition.  A good evaluative answer to questions relating to government policy would mention the fact that alcohol remains a popular product despite its obvious issues and might also discuss how the over-consumption of alcohol could be linked to something more cultural (compared to, say, France) - hence the need for something a little more creative than blanket bans or high duties.  I would want to ask my students questions such as 'what are the costs to society' mentioned within the report and why might the targeting of high-strength alcoholic drinks be a more affective policy then banning sales of all alcohol?

Park, and Ride to nowhere

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A park and ride scheme may be introduced to encourage motorists to use public transport, buses or trains to reach their workplaces. It is a government policy to overcome market failures associated with the negative externalities of congestion viz increased journey times, increased fuel and running costs, and atmospheric pollution.

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The MRPL of a graduate, and comparative advantage

Sunday, June 10, 2012

If workers are needed for the output they are required to produce, then it follows that they could be paid up to the extra value of revenue that their output generates for the firm, and that wage differentials will reflect differences in labour productivity - in other words, I am talking about the marginal revenue product of labour. The University and College Union (UCU) have commissioned a report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) called ‘Further Higher? Tertiary education and growth in the UK’s new economy’, looking for some evidence of the differences in the productivity of workers who have A levels and those with degrees - you can see the results in the table above.

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Unit 1 Micro: Revision Presentation on Government Intervention

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here is a short 35 slide revision presentation on government intervention in markets designed for AS microeconomics revision

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Improving Evaluation Skills in Economics Exams

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here is an updated version of the WEESTEPS approach to economics evaluation designed to boost the evaluation scores and exam results for AS and A2 Economics students.

It gives you some great pointers about the evaluative approaches that can be used. Works well for micro and macro - but particularly when you have to evaluate a specific policy intervention in a market / industry / or a macro policy discussion.

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Unit 1 Micro: Revision Blogs on Markets and Intervention

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Here is a selection of a recent blog resources on topics that appear on the core Unit 1 Syllabus focusing on changing market prices and examples of interventions to address perceived market failures

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Unit 1 Micro: Using the Cost-Benefit Principle

Monday, April 30, 2012

The cost-benefit principle is one of those core ideas that can be brought into so many evaluation discussions both in micro and macroeconomics – you should be using it in your papers!

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2012 Economics Revision: Ways to Improve your Paper

Monday, April 09, 2012

Here is a revision presentation offering ideas for stronger evaluation and analysis in your AS and A2 economics exam papers. Ten strands are suggested for students who want to build really good answers especially to evaluation questions.

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The 21st IEA Hayek Memorial Lecture

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Last week I attended the IEA Hayek Memorial lecture, given by Elinor Ostrom, Nobel laureate, on common resources and looking beyond government regulation.

The lecture took two parts: a presentation from Professor Ostrom, which was mainly focused on the research methodology, and a Q&A session, where anecdotal research evidence was more forthcoming.

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Blanchflower calls for more action to address youth jobless crisis

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Youth Unemployment

Professor David Blanchflower didn’t pull his punches when he was a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and he is making his mark once more with an attack on what he views as the Coalition government’s lacklustre approach to tackling youth unemployment. Blanchflower is reported in the Guardian as wanting zero national insurance contributions for employers who take on younger workers in depressed regions and localities. And he wants greater investment in vocational education in schools and colleges with the school-leaving age raised to 18.

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Unit 1 Micro: Government launches New Buy Loan Guarantee Scheme

Monday, March 12, 2012

Here is a fresh attempt by the British government to breathe life into the moribund housing market. People in England are being offered financial help to climb onto or up the housing ladder as the government’s new mortgage indemnity scheme launches. Under the terms of the scheme, both the construction industry and taxpayers will act as co-guarantors on new homes bought by existing or first-time buyers. Will it work in boosting demand for new build homes? Is this scheme designed to help house-buyers or builders? Or is there a real risk of government failure?

Basics:

* Builders will pay 3.5 per cent of the price of the home
* Taxpayers will provide an additional guarantee of 5.5 per cent that will only be used if there is a major property crash.
* Mortgage lenders will be able to lend up to 95 per cent of the sale price which means new buyers in many instances will only need to find a five per cent deposit or £10,000 on a new £200,000 home. The typical deposit on a mortgage now is closer to £36,000
* The scheme is available on houses and flats valued under £500,000 in England only

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Drink, drink, more drink

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Students are often asked to weigh up policies to limit the over consumption of demerit goods like alcoholic drinks. This BBC article  cited by Ben White considers some of them.

Most governments have used a combination of policies with varying levels of success. One policy option is the use of variable rates of Excise Duty. The March 2011 budget resulted in a rise in the duty on strong beers (above 7.5% alcohol) of 25%, and the duty on weak beers (below 2.8%) cut by 50%.

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