The Economic Journal

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1468-0297
Print ISSN: 0013-0133
The reduction and eventual elimination of child poverty has become one of the central objectives of the new Labour Government in Britain. Measures to achieve this by changing taxes and benefits and promoting paid work are described. Their effects are assessed using a micro-simulation model. The policy changes will achieve a significant reduction in child poverty but it will remain in 2001 substantially higher than in 1979 and much higher than in most European nations. © Royal Economic Society 2001. Published by Blackwell Publishers,.
In this paper we exploit the 1947 change to the minimum school-leaving age in England from 14 to 15, to evaluate the causal effect of a year of education on cognitive abilities at older ages. We use a regression discontinuity design analysis and find a large and significant effect of the reform on males' memory and executive functioning at older ages, using simple cognitive tests from the English Longitudinal Survey on Ageing (ELSA) as our outcome measures. This result is particularly remarkable since the reform had a powerful and immediate effect on about half the population of 14-year-olds. We investigate and discuss the potential channels by which this reform may have had its effects, as well as carrying out a full set of sensitivity analyses and robustness checks.
Miscarriage, even if biologically random, is not socially random. Willingness to abort reduces miscarriage risk. Because abortions are favorably selected among pregnant teens, those miscarrying are less favorably selected than those giving birth or aborting but more favorably selected than those giving birth. Therefore, using miscarriage as an instrument is biased towards a benign view of teen motherhood while OLS on just those giving birth or miscarrying has the opposite bias. We derive a consistent estimator that reduces to a weighted average of OLS and IV when outcomes are independent of abortion timing. Estimated effects are generally adverse but modest.
This paper examines parental reputation formation in intra-familial interactions. In a repeated two-stage game, children decide whether to drop out of high school or daughters decide whether to have births as teens and parents then decide whether to provide support to their children beyond age 18. Drawing on Milgrom and Roberts (1982) and Kreps and Wilson (1982), we show that, under certain conditions, parents have the incentive to penalize older children for their adolescent risk-taking behaviours in order to dissuade their younger children from such behaviours when reaching adolescence. We find evidence in favour of this parental reputation model.
We use data from the Whitehall II Study to examine the joint evolution of health status and economic status over the life course. We study the links between health and socioeconomic status in childhood and health and employment status at older ages. We find early life socioeconomic status is significantly associated with health over the life course, even though selection into Whitehall mutes the effects of childhood. In addition, we find that current position in the civil service is not associated with future self-assessed health, but current self-assessed health is significantly associated with promotion in the civil service.
In this paper, we studied the association of cognitive traits and in particular numeracy of both spouses on financial outcomes of the family. We found significant effects, particularly for numeracy for financial and non-financial respondents alike, but much larger effects for the financial decision maker in the family. We also examined who makes these financial decisions in the family and why. Once again, cognitive traits such as numeracy were an important component of that decision with larger effects of numeracy for husbands compared to wives.
This paper is a theoretical study of alternative ways of allocating resources in an exchange economy in which individual preferences are subject to unpredictable shocks that cannot be monitored. Efficiency in this economy requires wealth inequality to increase over time. The paper is based on the author's 1991 Harry Johnson Lecture. Copyright 1992 by Royal Economic Society.
The concepts of sigma-convergence, absolute beta-convergence and conditional beta-convergence are discussed in this paper. The concepts are applied to a variety of data sets that include a large cross-section of 110 countries, the subsample of OECD countries, the states within the United States, the prefectures of Japan, and regions within several European countries. Except for the large cross-section of countries, all data sets display strong evidence of sigma-convergence and absolute beta-convergence. The cross-section of countries exhibits sigma-divergence and conditional beta-convergence. The speed of conditional convergence, which is very similar across data sets, is close to 2 percent per year. Copyright 1996 by Royal Economic Society.
An iconic model with high leverage and overvalued collateral assets is used to illustrate the amplification mechanism driving asset prices to ‘overshoot’ equilibrium when an asset bubble bursts - threatening widespread insolvency and what Richard Koo calls a ‘balance sheet recession’. Besides interest rates cuts, asset purchases and capital restructuring are key to crisis resolution. The usual bankruptcy procedures for doing this fail to internalise the price effects of asset ‘fire-sales’ to pay down debts, however. We discuss how official intervention in the form of ‘super’ Chapter 11 actions can help prevent asset price correction causing widespread economic disruption.
In some countries, the cost-of-living (COL) index serves as the conceptual framework for the CPI, but it has been rejected in others. This paper reviews issues that have arisen in the statistical agency debate and in the economics literature on the COL index, including rhetorical matters which have influenced the debate. I contend that COL theory is useful as a decision-making framework in estimating components of the CPI, and that COL index theory provides appropriate guidance for measuring consumer inflation, contrary to the view that has been adopted for the European HICP and expressed by an advisory committee for the RPI.
We propose a dynamic model of neighbourhood watch schemes. While the state chooses punishment levels, apprehension of criminals depends on the watchfulness of citizens. We show that, contrary to standard intuition, crime levels can increase in punishments. This is because neighbourhood watch schemes can fall victim to their own success if recruitment of new members is driven by fear of crime - a finding that is in line with the empirical literature. We discuss the policy implications of this result and show how it extends to the more general problem of norm enforcement among interacting citizens. Copyright 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2007.
This research compares lottery valuation decisions made by individuals with similar decisions made by small groups. There is an extensive social psychology literature addressing group versus individual decision making but few studies explore this issue in economic contexts with cash rewards. Willingness-to-pay data elicited from independent samples of individuals and three-person groups in a repeated-measures experimental design reveal that: the variance of risk preferences is generally smaller for groups than individuals and the average group is "more" risk averse than the average individual in high-risk situations, but groups tend to be "less" risk averse in low-risk situations. Copyright 2008 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2008.
A range of monthly series are currently available giving indications of short-term movements in output in the UK. The main aim of this paper is to suggest a formal and coherent procedure for grossing these monthly data up to represent the whole of GDP. Although the resultant estimates of GDP would be worse than those obtained by direct measurement, they should be more satisfactory than simply making an informal inference from whatever monthly data are available. Our examination of the efficacy of the method for estimation of the state of economic activity indicates a rather satisfactory outcome. Copyright 2005 Royal Economic Society.
Using a dataset of territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth century, this article investigates the determinants of adoption and diffusion of Protestantism as a state religion. A territory's distance to Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther taught, is a major determinant of adoption. This finding is consistent with a theory of strategic neighbourhood interactions: introducing the Reformation was a risky enterprise for territorial lords and had higher prospects of success if powerful neighbouring states committed to the new faith. The actual spatial and temporal patterns of expansion of Protestantism are analysed in a panel dataset.
The primary aim of the paper is to place current methodological discussions in macroeconometric modeling contrasting the ‘theory first’ versus the ‘data first’ perspectives in the context of a broader methodological framework with a view to constructively appraise them. In particular, the paper focuses on Colander’s argument in his paper “Economists, Incentives, Judgement, and the European CVAR Approach to Macroeconometrics” contrasting two different perspectives in Europe and the US that are currently dominating empirical macroeconometric modeling and delves deeper into their methodological/philosophical underpinnings. It is argued that the key to establishing a constructive dialogue between them is provided by a better understanding of the role of data in modern statistical inference, and how that relates to the centuries old issue of the realisticness of economic theories.
Britain led the way for much of the world with industrial privatization during the 1980s. Yet the historical origins of the process that was being reversed have rarely been examined. This is a study of public and private ownership in industries such as railways, gas, water, electricity, and telecommunications. Industries such as these rely upon a substanial physical distribution network that `channels' their service from source to destination. They thus raise distinctive problems for government policy, as their requirement for some sort of unified system is incompatible with the coexistence of a number of competing service suppliers. Yet competition has been the traditional guarantee of `fair' and minimum prices in British industrial policy. This tension between experience and ideology provoked a variety of government policies over the last two centuries. Robert Millward and James Foreman-Peck provide a coherent and thorough economic history of the network industries, which continue to play an important role in the British economy. They trace the development of various institutional arrangements from the early nineteenth century until the end of the 1980s, and provide quantitative estimates of their performance. Their book offers a valuable historical approach to the contentious issue of privatization. Available in OSO:
First published in 1954, this volume presents a description and analysis of trends in the structure, organisation and technique of the distributive trades in the United Kingdom from 1850 to 1950. Special attention in the work was given to the growth of large-scale retailing and changes in the character of consumer-demand and shopping habits in the shops themselves and in retailing techniques. The study was intended to provide a contribution to a little-explored aspect of the social and economic history of the British people and to the economics of distribution and of scale in distribution. This book is complementary to the earlier study issued by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research - The Distribution of Consumer Goods (Cambridge, 1950) - which examined the costs and methods of distribution in one year. It will remain of value to anyone interested in the history and development of the British economy.
Available in OSO:
Why did Victorian Britain invest so much capital abroad? We collected over 500,000 monthly returns of British and foreign securities trading in London and the United States between 1866 and 1907. These heretofore-unknown data allow us to better quantify the historical benefits of international diversification and revisit the question of whether British Victorian investor bias starved new domestic industries of capital. We find no evidence of bias. A British investor who increased his investment in new British industry at the expense of foreign diversification would have been worse off. The addition of foreign assets significantly expanded the mean-variance frontier and resulted in utility gains equivalent to a meaningful increase in lifetime consumption.
Why do rich countries receive the lion's share of international investment flows? Although this "wealth bias" is strong today, it was even stronger during the first global capital market boom before 1913. Very little of British capital exports went to poor countries, whether colonies or not. This paper constructs panel data for 34 countries that as a group received 92% of British capital. It concludes that international capital market failure had only second-order effects on the geographical distribution of British capital. The three local fundamentals that mattered most were schooling, natural resources and demography. Copyright 2004 Royal Economic Society.
In this paper, the author constructs a game form based on the constitutions of the British coal industry conciliation boards, and shows how the induced game can be used to explain certain features of the record of the wage negotiations for which the conciliation boards were responsible. In particular, he tests various alternative explanations of the observed frequency of appeal to the arbitrator. The results are generally favorable to the view that the negotiators behaved rationally within the constraints imposed by the boards' constitutions. Copyright 1990 by Royal Economic Society.
This article gives an account of the career of Lionel Robbins. It covers his work in the prewar years; his participation in controversies concerning methodolo gy, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and international economics; his time spent as a senior advisor to government during World War II; and his postwar work. The article demonstrates the essential continuity of Robbins's thought in macroeconomics, international economics, and methodology, and deals with his important work in the history of econ omic thought and in public life, especially in connection with the Ro bbins Report. Copyright 1988 by Royal Economic Society.
This book deals with the history of private investment in India and its determinants during the period 1900-1939. It develops a simple theoretical framework in its first part and tries to isolate the influence on private investment in India of factor supplies, as against demand conditions. In the second part, all the major manufacturing industries of the period are studied in detail. Most of the analytical apparatus used is developed from orthodox economic theory, but a heavy emphasis is placed on Keynesian ideas. Finally, the author presents a case study in the economic relations between an imperial power (Britain) and a dependent colony (India). He also examines the social relations between the ruling race and the Indians, and provides one of the few detailed accounts of the mechanics of imperialism.
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