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Blog: COVID-19

The local economic impacts of Covid-19 and policy to ‘level-up’ the economy

Published in COVID-19, June 23rd, 2020
by Helen Simpson, University of Bristol


Last week, official data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the impact of Covid-19 has not been felt equally in all areas of the country. Death rates are typically higher in more deprived areas, but these differences are even greater when looking at deaths due to Covid-19. This is most starkly illustrated in a recent publication by the ONS on age-adjusted death rates across areas according to their level of deprivation (all figures are relative to the least deprived areas, category 10 on the left). It looks likely that the pandemic will amplify existing geographic inequalities, and even if not, it has certainly shone a very bright spotlight on them, with the health, economic, and likely educational effects hitting places unevenly.

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The Office for National Statistics: Responding to the coronavirus pandemic

Published in COVID-19, June 16th, 2020

By Vicky Haigney, Office for National Statistics

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has and will continue to affect the lives of millions of people across the world. Disruption to supply chains, workplace closures and social distancing measures enforced worldwide are contributing to a global slowdown. Being able to measure and analyse the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 quickly is imperative to informing the policy response of the UK government and in helping to mitigate the extent of this slowdown.

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Black Lives Matter

Published in COVID-19, June 9th, 2020
by Sarah Smith, Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol

The past few days have seen protests around the world, triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Protestors in many US and UK cities have demonstrated against police brutality and against systemic racism.

Responding to the protests, some UK government ministers suggested that the protests were a specific response to the situation in the US rather a response to problems in the UK. Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock said that he thought that the UK is not racist. It is important to set the record straight and highlight some economic facts about racial inequalities in the UK.

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The case for a rolling age-release strategy from lockdown

Published in COVID-19, June 4th, 2020

by Andrew J. Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science, University of Warwick and IZA and Nattavudh Powdthavee, Professor of Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School and IZA

This week has seen significant steps towards an easing of lockdown. Groups of up to six are now allowed to meet out of doors and more shops can open; people who were previously advised to shield are now allowed outside and to meet up to one other person. But is a general easing of lockdown the right approach? In this article, we argue that the safest approach would be a rolling age-release strategy (giving more freedoms to younger people) combined with the current principle of social distancing. Also, that whatever policy is adopted to easing lockdown, people need to be presented with the information to be able to understand their personal risk.

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Social care and the COVID-19 pandemic

Published in COVID-19, June 2nd, 2020

by Elaine Kelly, The Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies

Care homes are receiving a lot of attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Death rates of care home residents are high; there are concerns that the lack of COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment for staff in care homes has caused the virus to spread further and faster.

In this blog we explore how care homes fit into the wider system of adult social care in England, and why they appear particularly badly hit by the pandemic.

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Cummings and Goings….

Published in COVID-19, May 27th, 2020
by Sarah Smith, Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol

This week, the press has been dominated by the Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham in search of childcare, in breach of the spirit if not the strict letter, of the social distancing law that he himself had been partly responsible for.

Boris Johnson has stood by his man and gave a press conference at which he defended Dominic Cummings’ actions. But before he spoke, he might have benefitted from an understanding of some simple economic concepts.

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Price Gouging

Published in COVID-19, May 26th, 2020

Last week it was revealed that overall retail sales have slumped since the lockdown but demand for some products – such as surgical face masks – has soared and, at least in the early days of the pandemic, demand far outstripped supply.

One response to “excess demand” (i.e. demand greater than supply) is to let prices increase. Soon after the pandemic was declared, a pack of 100 blue disposable masks, was listed on Amazon for four times what it had cost only a few weeks before.

by Sarah Smith, Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol

Increasing price “solves” the problem of excess demand in two ways – it increases supply and it reduces demand. Prices are the natural mechanism that bring about market adjustment in the face of supply and demand shocks.

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Premier League salaries during the pandemic

Published in COVID-19, May 19th, 2020

by Pravin Steele, final year student at the University of Bristol

File:David Silva shaved Man City 2017 (36471171422) (cropped).jpg
Manchester City’s David Silva. Photo by Brad Tutterow, CC-BY

The initial response of Premier League clubs and players to the financial threat posed by the suspension of the football season met widespread criticism. Several clubs announced plans to use the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough non-playing staff, whilst around the same time the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the union representing professional footballers, rejected the PL’s proposal of a 12-month 30% pay cut for all players. Critics argue is it is wrong for government money to be spent on non-playing staff salaries, when clubs could cover this cost simply by reducing players’ salaries, which seem exorbitant at the best of times.

Following this public outcry several clubs reversed their decision to use the government’s scheme. A league-wide agreement on player salaries has been abandoned, and each club is deciding wages individually. Two questions are worth exploring:

  1. Are demands for players to accept pay cuts fair?
  2. Are pay cuts desirable from a societal point of view?
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