The Causes and Consequences of Trust and Bribery in Society Workshop

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By Dr Tim Hinks

A number of presenters and discussants were invited to this day-long workshop in order to provide an environment in which in-depth and critical discussions on a number of pressing questions in the fields of bribery, corruption and trust was created. 

Presentations covered a variety of different institutional settings and countries including bribes and firm performance in Albania and Kosovo, social capital and institutional trust in Palestine, the impacts of networks, trust and motivations to bribe on life satisfaction and experimental evidence on what makes people cheat. Colleagues from the Burgundy School of Business, Cork University, Aston University, Birkbeck, University College London and within the Bristol Business School made the day a great success with presenters receiving valuable feedback on their work, and pathways to collaborative research in the near future identified. 

In line with this, colleagues are invited to submit abstracts to an up-coming workshop at Birkbeck University on 20th June entitled Institutions and Culture in Economic Contexts.  

Poetic Economics

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In this video economists Peter Bradley and Sebastian Berger bring together music and economics to explore the meaning and potential of poetic economics. In the first part, Peter Bradley – together with Tom Deblock – perform a song. In the interview that ensued in the second part Peter points out the song’s relevance to his economics while Sebastian answers questions regarding what he calls “poetic economics”. In particular, important aspects of re-rooting economics in poetry, art, and the humanities are discussed. 

Thank you to our wonderful first year film students Didi Valer, Marta Vitiello and Francesco Ianniello for taking the time to produce this video for us.

Find out more about our economics courses at UWE Bristol on our website. Sebastian teaches on our History of Economic thought module, which forms part of the BSc Economics and BA Economics courses, and Peter teaches Sustainable Business.

Further reading

Berger, S. (2019) Can a poetic economy cure evil?: Lessons from the Kapp-Wiechert correspondance. In: Luefter, R., ed. (2019) Wirtliche Oekonomie. Traugott Bautz Verlag. [In Press] Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/31965

Berger, S. (2018) Towards a poetic economics: Studies in Ezra Pound’s Poetry with a Hammer. In: Luefter, R. and Preda, R., eds. (2018) A Companion to Ezra Pound’s Economic Thought. Traugott Bautz Verlag. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/28459

Berger, S. (2015) Poetic economics and experiential knowledge: How the economist K. William Kapp was inspired by the poet Ernst Wiechert. Journal of Economic Issues, 49 (3). pp. 730-748. ISSN 0021-3624 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/25141

Bradley, P. (2019) Integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum: A case study analysis and sector wide survey of barriers. Journal of Cleaner Production, 209. pp. 333-352. ISSN 0959-6526 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/38953

Checking research outputs for confidentiality risks

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By Professor Felix Ritchie and Anthea Springbett

UWE Bristol has recently been commissioned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to develop a course in ‘output checking’ for research data centres. This is where researchers working on confidential data have their statistical outputs checked before publication, to ensure that they don’t break the law by inadvertently releasing information about individuals; for example, without proper checks a table of earnings in a small village could reveal the income of the highest earner. This checking process is called ‘statistical disclosure control’, or SDC.

Output checking is a well-established field, and there are experienced trainers and automatic tools to help those producing statistics. Why then does ONS need a new course? The reason is that new forms of data, new ways of working, and new types of users have all created a need for a different kind of output checking.

SDC training is largely focused on the tables produced by national statistical institutes (NSIs) such as ONS. NSI outputs have particular demands: similar tables are produced year after year, multiple tables are produced from the same data so consistency across tables is important, and NSIs publish a lot of information about their tables, including sampling methods.

Research outputs are quite different. Researchers aim to find new and interesting ways to extract meaning from data. Researchers choose data based on the hypotheses they want to explore and sub-samples of the population they are interested in, including or excluding data according to their own criteria. Finally, and most importantly, researchers don’t tend to produce detailed tables of the type NSIs generate; they are interested in multivariate analysis, non-linear models, heat maps, survival functions… For researchers, tables are often just used to describe the data before they get on to the interesting stuff. As a result, the forty-odd years of SDC designed for NSIs is of limited practical use in this environment.

For fifteen years, we have been developing an approach designed specifically for the research environment; we call it ‘output SDC’ (OSDC) to emphasise that this is a general approach to outputs, not just tables and not just for NSIs. There are two strands to this approach, one statistical and one operational.

The statistical strand comes from the ‘evidence-based, default-open, risk-managed, user-centred’ approach that we apply across our work in confidential data management. The way that researchers use data, and the confidentiality risks that they generate, require the output checker to be familiar with a wide range of statistics, which we address through classifying outputs into types, with a higher or lower inherent risk; this allows the checker to spend more time on the more ‘risky’ outputs. For these ‘risky’ outputs, context is everything. The traditional approach has been to apply simple yes/no rules (are there enough observations? Are there any outliers?) but this can be a very blunt instrument. Our approach emphasises the use of evidence in decision-making, which places more of a burden on the output-checker but increases the range of allowable outputs.

The operational strand reflects the fact that researchers are initially, on the whole, resistant to what they see as restrictions on output. A key part of the training will be helping output checkers build relationships with researchers; for example, emphasising that this is not about restricting output, but about keeping the researcher out of jail…

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

This is, we believe, the first formal course targeted specifically at (a) research outputs, and (b) those checking the outputs of the researchers, rather than the producers of statistics themselves. ONS is sponsoring the development of this training for all interested UK organisations. Many overseas organisations also run facilities that vet researcher outputs. We hope therefore that this will be of interest to a wide range of organisations, and may prompt a sea of change in the adoption of more general OSDC principles.

Speakers announced for our Pro-environmental employee and consumer behaviour conference, 29 April 2019

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We are pleased to announce the following confirmed speakers at our Sustainability Research Cluster’s interdisciplinary one-day conference on “Pro-environmental employee and consumer behaviour” on Monday 29th April 2019. Please see our event page for more details.

The conference is free to attend so please book your place online now.

Dr Peter Bradley (Associate Professor of Economics and leader of the Sustainability Research Cluster at UWE Bristol) Keynote “Motivating energy conservation in organisations: Smart metering and the emergence and diffusion of social norms”.

Iain Mcguffog (Director of Strategy & Regulation, Bristol Water)- “Beyond customer engagement to a hydro social contract.”

Shane Donnellan (Senior Behaviour Change Specialist, Changeworks) Keynote – “Learning to develop as a centre for best practice for behavioural change; lessons from an environmental charity.”

Mandy Gardner (UWE Bristol)- “Values and motivations of social entrepreneurs in bringing about sustainable community production and consumption.”

Bridget Appleby (Founder/CEO, ‘Sustainabubbles’)-“Parties for the Planet- Social Connections and Sustainable Behaviour.”

Dr Ian Smith (Senior lecturer of economics, UWE Bristol) – “What kind of activist are you? Exploring notions of collective action and self-organising amongst climate change activists in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.”

Jes Rutter (CEO, JRP Solutions) Keynote – “Cognitive Energy – supporting the first fuel – UK behaviour change collective action.”   

Dr Jon Mulholland (Associate Professor in Sociology, UWE Bristol)‘How disgraceful it is that you are throwing that away’: Hand-Crafted Motorcycles as Upcycled Waste?  

Alexandra Arntsen (Birmingham City University) – “Work-Life-Environmental Balance: An Agenda for Management Practice.”

Dr Artjoms Ivlevs (Associate Professor of Economics, UWE Bristol)- “Emigration and pro-environmentalism: A long-term, community perspective.”

Dr Mark Everard (Associate Professor of Ecosystem Services, UWE Bristol) Keynote “People, nature and what this means for business.”

Nicola Andreij Rieg (Doctoral Practitioner in Sustainability, University of Surrey)- “Employee behaviour and Energy Use at the University of Surrey.”

Dr Svetlana Cicmil (Director of Doctoral Research, UWE Bristol)- Title to be confirmed

Alan Bailey (Director of The Future Economy Group Ltd)- Title to be confirmed

If you have any queries about the conference please do get in touch at bcef@uwe.ac.uk or tweet us @Bristolecfin

Autonomy launch new policy report on a shorter working week

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BCEF member Dr Danielle Guizzo Archela is an associate researcher of Autonomy, an independent, progressive think tank which aims to address the uncertainty of work in the modern era.

Autonomy is comprised from a multidisciplinary array of researchers and experts in political economy and critical theory. On Friday 1st February 2019 Autonomy launched a new policy report on a shorter working week. “The shorter working week: a radical and pragmatic proposal” outlines the case for a shorter working week and shows that there is no positive correlation between productivity and the amount of hours worked per day. The report has received praise from a number of politicians and academics.

“This is a vital contribution to the growing debate around free time and reducing the working week. With millions saying they would like to work shorter hours, and millions of others without a job or wanting more hours, it’s essential that we consider how we address the problems in the labour market as well as preparing for the future challenges of automation.” John McDonnell, Labour Shadow Chancellor

Our conventional working week and the idea of a compromising work-life balance in the UK has been debated in the media for some time. Last year in New Zealand a landmark trial of a four-day working week concluded it an unmitigated success and the discussion on how a four-day work week could be implemented long-term was opened up.

The Autonomy report has already been making headlines, and the idea of working “part-time” being standard, rather than just an option for those who can afford it, has been very popular. Below are just a few of the recent articles on the report.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2019/02/how-idea-four-day-week-went-mainstream
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/01/bring-on-the-four-day-working-week-for-teachers
https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/01/boss-needs-know-productive-shorter-working-week-8423713/
https://www.redpepper.org.uk/less-work-more-play-a-solution-to-britains-economic-woes/

Autonomy have also produced a short YouTube video to accompany the report launch.

The Shorter Working Week launch video

Please see the Autonomy website to read more and to download the full report.

Does immigration affect life satisfaction of people in host societies? The EU enlargement experience in England and Wales

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By Artjoms Ivlevs

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) held a historic referendum in which citizens voted, 52% to 48%, to leave the European Union (EU). The outcome of this vote has sent shockwaves around the world and is likely to change the course of British and European politics for years to come. It is widely recognized that immigration played a major role in the decision of the UK to leave the EU: immigration was a dominant theme in the pre-referendum debate and remains a key issue as the UK prepares its exit from the bloc. Specifically, the proponents of Brexit argued that the levels of immigration to the UK from other EU countries have become too high; exiting the EU would enable the country to control immigration from the EU. Slogans such as ‘immigrants take our jobs’ and ‘take back control of our borders’ have resonated well with the UK general public, for whom immigration has indeed become one of the biggest worries.

However, for some time scholars have been pointing that immigration has few, if any, adverse effects on the labour markets of migrant-receiving countries (Constant, 2014; Peri, 2014). Such findings, coupled with mounting worries over immigration levels, raise a question: in what ways does immigration affect the well-being of people in migrant-receiving countries – beyond the realm of the labour markets? In a study “Local-level immigration and life satisfaction: The EU enlargement experience in England and Wales”, published in 2018 in Environment and Planning A (Ivlevs and Veliziotis, 2018), we explored the effects of immigration on the subjective well-being, and in particular life satisfaction, of local residents – a relationship that has so far received little attention in both the literature and public debate.

To answer our research question – whether immigration affects the life satisfaction of residents in a host country – we focused on a recent immigration wave to the UK. Following the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, the UK opened its labour market to citizens of the new EU member states (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – also known as the accession or A8 countries). As a result, 1.5 million East Europeans started working in the UK between 2004 and 2011. In 2015, Poles – the largest group among the A8 migrants – became the largest foreign-born group in the UK, overtaking Indians, the Irish, Pakistani and Bangladeshi.

Besides being fast and unexpectedly large, the A8 migration to the UK was also geographically unevenly distributed (see the map below). The demand for jobs in the geographically-concentrated, ‘migrant-intensive’ industries, such as agriculture, food processing and manufacturing, meant that that some UK communities were affected by the East European migration much more than others. We related the local-level intensity of A8 migration to the changes in people’s life satisfaction over time. To capture the local-level migration intensity, we used data from the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS), which documented, between 2004 and 2011, the number of A8 workers starting a job in the UK at the local authority level. To capture changes in individual life satisfaction, we used the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which followed the same people over time.

Geographical distribution of A8 migration in England and Wales, 2004-2008, % of local population

 

Source: Worker Registration Scheme and authors’ calculations.

Our results showed that immigration from the A8 countries in the UK on average was not related to the life satisfaction of UK nationals. However, important sub-group differences emerged and are presented in the graphs below. More intense local-level immigration was associated with lower life satisfaction among older people, as well as the unemployed and the economically inactive, while the life satisfaction of younger people and those in employment went up with local-level immigration. We have also obtained somewhat weaker evidence that the life satisfaction of better educated UK nationals and those with higher incomes increased with immigration, while the life satisfaction of people with low incomes decreased with it. All these associations were pronounced in the ‘migration shock’ period – the first two years after the UK opened its labour market to the new Europeans – and became statistically insignificant in the longer term.

Predicted life satisfaction as a function of the local immigration rate for respondents of different age, employment status, income and education

How can one explain these results? A positive association between immigration and life satisfaction for the young could be because young people are in favor of diversity brought about by immigration. In contrast, older people might be particularly opposed to diversity and change, as well as be concerned with the (perceived) pressure immigrants put on local health services; this could explain why the elderly become less life-satisfied when larger immigrant inflows take place. The negative association between the local immigration rate and life satisfaction among the unemployed could mean that people in this group feel that their chances of getting back to work and their labour market bargaining power get weaker with higher levels of immigration – a form of labour market competition. At the same time, those in employment do not seem to be threatened by labour market competition, as their life satisfaction increases with the levels of local immigration.

The finding that life satisfaction increases with local-level immigration among those with high incomes and relatively high levels of education could indicate that these groups do not perceive Eastern European migrants as labour market competitors (which is consistent with the fact that the A8 migrants are concentrated in low-skilled sectors/occupations). Instead, the wealthier and better educated could be gaining in life satisfaction through, for example, enhanced social life (many A8 migrants are employed in the hospitality industry, keeping its product prices low) or satisfaction with house or family life (A8 migrants increased the supply of cheap household services).

Overall, our results suggest that immigration does not affect the well-being of different groups of people in the same way and that labour market considerations are unlikely to be a dominant factor in explaining the links between immigration and natives’ well-being. In addition, the fact that the life satisfaction of particular groups, such as the elderly, decreases with immigration has implications for the formation of immigration policy in most developed immigration-receiving countries, where populations are aging and older people are generally more likely to vote. From this perspective, the recent decision of the UK to leave the EU could well be explained by the negative association between A8 immigration and the life satisfaction of older people in the UK. This contention, however, hinges on the assumptions that 1) the Brexit referendum vote was indeed largely about restricting immigration, and 2) life satisfaction affects people’s immigration policy preferences.

Reference to the full paper:

Ivlevs, A. and Veliziotis, M. (2018). “Local-level immigration and life satisfaction: The EU enlargement experience in England and Wales”, Environment and Planning A 50(1): 175-193.

The article is also available on the UWE Research Repository.

 

Improving the pay of UK apprentices

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By Professor Felix Ritchie and Dr Hilary Drew

 

Apprentices are amongst the lowest paid workers in the UK. Their statutory minimum wage is lower than for any other worker aged 16 or over. Despite this, our research, along with Michail Veliziotis at Southampton University, showed that up to a quarter of all apprentices still seem to be paid below their legal minimum hourly rate. In comparison, the rate of non-compliance amongst the whole work force is less than 5%.

We argued that this was partly due to the minimum wage for apprentices being more complicated than for other workers. However, in this segment of the economy there are weak mechanisms for checking that the correct wage is being paid. Apprentices are often unaware or incurious about pay rates, while employers showed a confidence that they could work out pay rates which wasn’t strongly supported by statistics. Apprentices had a high degree of trust in employers to pay the right wage, which meant that mistakes were unlikely to be uncovered. Finally, all this was set in a low-pay culture, where it was accepted that “rubbish pay” (to quote one apprentice) at the early stage of your career was one of the rites of passage.

We advised that more targeted information could help to resolve this problem; in particular, we proposed an ‘app app’ (a wage calculator designed for young people fresh out of school or college), and working with trainers at FE colleges who were best placed to help apprentices check their pay.

Our recommendations have now been taken forward in the South West. Earlier this month we presented our findings at the “Great Apprenticeships – Treated Well – Treated Right” event organised by the South West TUC at the City of Bristol College.  Union representatives, training providers, local government and apprentices attended the event.

One of the aims was to showcase the South West TUC’s new wage calculator,  developed specifically for apprentices. The meeting also presented an opportunity for interested parties to examine a regional approach.

The event indicated that there was a clear common interest in taking action to improve pay awareness amongst apprentices and to better promote the TUC’s wage calculator. We are excited to remain involved with the work taking this forward in 2019 and plan to support the City of Bristol College in targeting their apprentices as part of the South West TUC’s campaign. We hope as a result of this we can demonstrate how a simple intervention, allied to a targeted information programme, can make a material difference to some of the lowest paid employees.

Integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum

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Dr Peter Bradley, leader of our Sustainability Research cluster, has recently published a new paper in the Journal of Cleaner Production. The full paper can be downloaded here.

Integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum: A case study analysis and sector wide survey of barriers.

Economics is a critical subject in bringing about sustainable development; by its definition it addresses questions of resource allocation. Fundamentally, economics addresses choices about what is produced and consumed in societies. It is these choices and incentives that are central to the root causes of global environmental and social impacts. This paper starts by identifying literature on educating for sustainable development in business and economics and highlights that the integration of sustainable development into mainstream economics curriculum is scant and largely missing based on current evidence.

Highlights

• First department wide intervention study of integrating sustainability in economics.
• First sector wide survey of barriers to integrating sustainability into economics.
• Surveys identify key barriers to integration of sustainability into economics.
• The Research Excellence Framework is a major barrier to integrating sustainability.
• The approach and survey can be applied elsewhere for comparative analysis.

Abstract

Economics is a critical subject for the integration of sustainable development into curriculum given the discipline’s influence in shaping social metabolism of societies, inequality, environmental impacts and wellbeing. There are very few empirical studies of the integration of sustainable development into economics curriculum. The purpose of the paper is to conduct analysis of a department wide intervention to integrate sustainable development into economics at a case study University, the first of its kind. The study makes use of surveys, interviews and key word searches to provide both qualitative and quantitative data and findings. Results indicate integration of sustainable development into curriculum on some modules but not the majority of the sample, evidence of resistance was also found. A range of barriers to integrating sustainable development into curriculum were identified in interviews. A sector wide survey on barriers to integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum was then conducted to provide empirical evidence on the subject. This is the first sector wide study of barriers to integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum. Results from the survey show that the Research Excellence Framework is a substantial barrier to integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum. The survey can be developed and applied elsewhere in the world to enable comparative analysis across countries, to get wider evidence on barriers.

 

Pro-environmental employee and consumer behaviour conference

Join us at UWE Bristol for a one day conference on 29 April 2019 to discuss pro-environmental employee and consumer behaviour. More information and registration online here. Get in touch at bcef@uwe.ac.uk for more information or to submit an abstract for presentation.

UWE Bristol Economics student briefs for the Bristol Festival of Economics

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The Festival of Economics 2018 will make Bristol a hub for debating and answering some of the key economic questions of our time.

The seventh running of the festival is programmed by Diane Coyle (University of Cambridge and Enlightenment Economics) and will take place at We The Curious. Economists and other key experts from around the world will be on hand to add their expertise to the programme.

The festival will feature keynote speakers and talks on unelected power (led by Paul Tucker), the rise and fall of higher education (chaired by Andy Westwood from the University of Manchester), growth in the Brexit era (Rain Newton-Smith), central banks in the past, present and future (Andy Haldane) and also sessions for schools.

The Festival of Economics 2018 is part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas. UWE Bristol have been actively involved with the Festival of Ideas throughout the year. In the run up to this week’s Festival of Economics events, UWE Bristol economics students have been working on briefs for the official events.

Thusday 8 November, 20:00-21:30

Does Economics Care About the Future?

With Chair Mirabelle Muûls (Imperial College/London School of Economics), Aditi Sahni (Vivid Economics), Alex Teytelboym (University of Oxford), Kees Vendrik (Triodos Bank), Dimitri Zenghelis (London School of Economics)

Brief written by the students of MSc Global Political Economy. 

This brief discusses whether economics, as an academic discipline and a profession, cares about the future. The essential question is whether the assumptions and methods of mainstream economics are fit for purpose.

Friday 9 November, 18:30-19:30

Andy Haldane: Central Banks, Past, Present and Future

The chief economist at the Bank of England in conversation with Festival of Economics director Diane Coyle.

Two briefs were written for this event:

Jamie Fallon, Shail Patel, Kieran Green,  and Reece Robertson (BA Economics) discuss the key issues as the trade-off between democratic accountability and effectiveness of monetary policy, geopolitical issues and growing pressure on banks to aid in the fight against climate change.

Jainni Patel & Luisana Toner (BA Economics) ask what were central banks thinking before the crisis? Was Quantitative Easing the best way for central banks to target inflation? And will machine learning save central banks from failing models?

 

Saturday 10 November, 16:00-17:30

Forecasts: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

With Chair Tom Clark, Jonathan Athow (ONS), Roger Farmer (University of Warwick), Rebecca Harding (Coriolis Technologies), Vicky Pryce, Andrew Sentance (PwC)

Brief written by Scott Angell, Iman Gaspard and Dominik Palejczuk (BA/BSc Economics) discusses whether economists should make predictions and forecasts. Economic forecasting is misunderstood by the public for a variety of reasons, including how those predictions are presented to the public. This brief weighs up probabilistic forecasting and the OBR’s productivity forecasts.

 

 

Pro-environmental employee and consumer behaviour conference with Dr Peter Bradley

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Current world population is just over seven billion and expected to reach nine billion before 2050. Increasing affluence in the developing and transition countries where population is growing most is now resulting in a wave of “new consumers”. This is important as in the developed world the main drivers for the level and growth of environmental pressures are said to be final consumption and affluence. Technology on its own will not adequately ensure that society stays within environmental limits. Therefore there is a need for serious consideration and research into consumer, employee and entrepreneur behaviours.

In this vain, the Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF) is hosting a one day inter-disciplinary conference, organised by Dr Peter Bradley, leader of BCEF’s Sustainability Research Cluster and an expert in sustainability research. Peter’s research explores environmental and energy challenges and governance using empirical evidence based research as well as conceptual and theory based research. The “Pro-environmental employee and consumer behaviour conference” is taking place on 29 April 2019 and registration to attend is now open. Keynote speakers include Jes Rutter from JRP solutions and Dr Mark Everard (Associate Professor of Ecosystem Services, UWE Bristol). For more information and online registration, please see our event page.

 

Call for papers

We invite abstracts from PhD students, researchers and practitioners across the social and natural sciences to present on topics related to ‘pro-environmental consumer and employee behaviour’. Please send a 500 word abstract about your topic and contribution to bcef@uwe.ac.uk by Wednesday 19 December 2018 to be considered for presentations.