The UK Election: Economic Analysis of Key Issues

The CEP at the LSE is releasing a series of briefing notes on some of the key economic issues facing the next UK government: you can find the list here.  Among the recent contributions are Luis Garicano on financial regulation and Brian Bell on bankers’ bonuses.

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Nick Barr’s posts on the LSE’s election blog are also interesting, especially, from an Irish point of view, the one on third level fees and access. He cites one study on the effects of the introduction of tuition fees in the UK a few years ago:

“Substantial, sustained and materially significant participation increases for the most disadvantaged areas across the 04:05 to 09:10 cohorts are found regardless of whether educational, occupational or income disadvantage is considered. Typically, young people from the 09:10 cohort living in the most disadvantaged areas are around +30 per cent more likely to enter higher education than they were five years previously (04:05 cohort), and around +50 per cent more likely to enter higher education than 15 years previously (94:95 cohort).”

And concludes:

“The argument that fees harm access makes the wrong diagnosis and therefore leads to the wrong prescription. The policy spends money on ‘free’ higher education instead of improving earlier education, providing more and better information, and raising aspirations, and thus spends money on a policy that does not work.”

Perhaps it’s a question of when, rather than whether, but I’m surprised by the omission (so far) of a paper on the deficit, or perhaps separate papers on taxation reform and a general discussion of public expenditure (the paper on health being a partial exception to this omission).

I can understand the parties not particularly wanting to discuss the deficit – but it’s the elephant in the room!

More generally: “Doubling the national debt to come out of recession x months earlier.” Discuss!

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