inequality


Work life balance: Gender norms and the Swedish labour market

Gender identity norms are possible drivers of persistent gender inequalities in the labour market. But the extent to which such norms restrict the behaviour of couples is debated. This column examines how Swedish households changed their professional and housework balance in response to the introduction of a tax credit that altered the relative take-home pay in different ways for spouses within couples. The research shows that immigrant couples, who tend to come from countries with more traditional gender norms than Sweden, responded more strongly to a reduction in the husband’s tax rate than the wife’s. By not responding to women’s tax cuts, these couples may forgo as much as £2,000 per year in household disposable income.

Urban political structures and the historical roots of wealth inequality

The evolution of wealth inequality is driven in part by past political structures. This column presents a case study from Germany, focusing on the history of the southern city-state, Nördlingen. The results of the study highlight how past political elites were able to exploit extreme moments of crisis, such as wars and epidemics, to enrich themselves, driving up wealth inequality. In fact, the extent to which a region had an oligarchic political structure transpires to be a clear driver of wealth inequality trends, today as in the past. 

Mapping honesty and migration: Lessons from Italy

Levels of dishonesty vary by region in Italy. This column measures how behaviours and attitudes relating to rule-breaking differ from place to place using childbirth registration data. By tracking where more people are falsifying birth records, it is possible to make accurate inferences about honesty in a given area. Importantly, the column also shows that migration movements can generate honesty drains or honesty gains in different areas. These changes correlate with regional economic outcomes, from human capital to productivity, to earnings growth, to the quality of local government.

Measuring health outcomes: A new approach

Measuring people’s health status is vital for designing effective policies that support different age groups. But economists working in this field face a difficult challenge when it comes to integrating accurate health measures into their economic models. This then makes it difficult for policy-makers to make straightforward model-based decisions. This column offers a new metric and seeks to solve the issue of measuring health statuses and their associated economic outcomes. The new approach makes integrating important health data into economic models easier, helping yield more accurate results.

Who benefits from school inspections? Lessons from England

Ofsted is an established feature of the English state school system. Ofsted grades are even displayed on property search websites in addition to government and school websites. This column explores the value of providing such information, versus the pressure such inspections place on schools. This comes in the context of a backlash against the system following the tragic death of an English headteacher earlier this year.