David Bell's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Stirling
Credentials: 
Professor of Economics

Voting history

Wages and economic recoveries

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Question 2: Do you agree that the different behaviour of UK real wages relative to Eurozone wages during the Great Recession is in large part due to the UK having different labour market policies?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
UK certainly has different labour market policies - but not clear why their effects have become so magnified post the Great Recession.

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Question 1: Do you agree that lower real wage growth was beneficial for employment levels during the Great Recession?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Why is the UK such an outlier in relation to the "wage gap"? Different competing explanations - failure to eliminate "zombie" firms post-2008 - surely this applies to other parts of Europe?; weaker labour market institutions - surely applied pre-2008?; substitution of labour for capital - why would this not apply elsewhere?

Happiness and well-being as objectives of macro policy

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Question 2: Do you agree that quantitative well-being analysis should play an important role in guiding policy makers in determining macroeconomic policies?

 
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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
I have an interest in this question in that I am a joint author of a paper on the well-being trade-off between inflation and unemployment (see below). We find that unemployment entails higher well-being costs than does inflation. Clearly this has a bearing on macroeconomic policy and we do feel that central bankers should take this kind of evidence into account when making decisions. Blanchflower, D. G., Bell, D. N., Montagnoli, A., & Moro, M. (2014). The Happiness Trade‐Off between Unemployment and Inflation. Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 46(S2), 117-141.

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Question 1: Do you agree that subjective well-being measures, or at least some of the subindices from the typical survey measures, are now reliable enough to give useful insights when used in macroeconomic empirical analysis?

 
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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
There does seem to be sufficient corroborative evidence to support this conclusion, though perhaps only weakly. Economic arguments still explain only a small proportion of the variance in subjective well-being. The metrics used to capture this concept are still fairly crude. They require further research, which is only likely to be fruitful if economists are prepared to engage with other disciplines, notably psychology.

A “new” UK industrial strategy ?

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Question 2: Do you agree that the UK needs a new regional policy?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
I am not confident that Enterprise Zones will add significantly to economic activity. Unless the policies are carefully designed, displacement effects may predominate. Regional Selective Assistance still exists in Scotland. An evaluation in 2008 of the scheme's operation over the period 2000 to 2004 estimated costs per job in the range £13,272 to £34,419 and a positive net present value. The UK government is also in the process of devolving significant tax powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2016. It remains to be seen whether this form of regional policy which involves transferring fiscal risk to sub-national governments increases growth rates in these areas. Current research on the effects of fiscal decentralisation on growth does not provide strongly supportive evidence. Similar arguments may apply to the transfer of fiscal powers to the "Northern Powerhouse". The difficulty of establishing an appropriate counterfactual will make evaluation of these policy initiatives somewhat tricky.

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