Month: May 2024


Graduation nation: Who benefited from increased UK university admissions?

Access to university has expanded significantly over the last five decades, and plans for further growth figure prominently on many policy agendas. This column examines the enlargement of post-secondary education in the UK after 1970. The authors argue that expanding university access corresponded with a decline in both the average intelligence of graduates and the wage premium across cohorts. Those who benefited from the expansion were primarily less able students from advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, and not the high-ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds the policy was designed to reach.

Dust to dust: How natural air pollution induces work accidents

Air pollution can increase the risk of workplace injury. Workers breathing in harmful pollutants, including dust, are more likely to lose focus, experience fatigue and even become less patient. These factors can lead to a greater risk of getting hurt, from misusing a machine or by falling over. This column takes data from Spain, exploring how dust precipitation affects workplace accidents. The authors find evidence to show that a day of dust precipitation induces an average 1.2% increase in workplace accidents, compared with days with no dust. They argue that firms and policymakers should be wary of the risks posed by pollution, both directly to people’s health but also through increasing their risk of having an accident.