Frontiers of economic research

Morten Ravn, Vincent Sterk, 11 January 2017

Recent economic events cast doubt on the standard macroeconomic models. This column looks at new economic models built on the idea that inequality and income risk matter for the business cycle and long-run outcomes. While still in their infancy, these models show promise in addressing the concerns about the old New Keynesian models, and in bringing about a shift in the way that macroeconomists think about aggregate fluctuations and stabilisation policy. 

Charles Manski, 24 December 2016

Exact predictions of policy outcomes and estimates of the state of the economy are routine; expressions of uncertainty are rare. This column argues that with the US approaching the beginning of an administration, the incredible certitude of past governmental policy analysis will soon seem a minor concern relative to what lies ahead.  Whereas analysis with incredible certitude makes predictions and estimates that are possibly true, analysis in a post-truth world makes predictions and estimates that are clearly false.

Andrew Clark, Sarah Fleche, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdthavee, George Ward, 12 December 2016

Understanding the key determinants of people’s life satisfaction will suggest policies for how best to reduce misery and promote wellbeing. This column discusses evidence from survey data on Australia, Britain, Germany, and the US which indicate that the things that matter most are people’s social relationships and their mental and physical health; and that the best predictor of an adult’s life satisfaction is their emotional health as a child. The authors call for a new focus for public policy: not ‘wealth creation’ but ‘wellbeing creation’.

Robert French, Philip Oreopoulos, 05 December 2016

Behavioural economics has been playing an increasingly important role in public policy the world over, and Canada is no exception. This column outlines the steps Canada is taking towards incorporating insights from the literature into its policies. It also highlights the emphasis that many agencies in Canada are placing on testing their prospective behavioural interventions through randomised control trials.

Jacques Bughin, Jan Mischke, 28 November 2016

The ‘gig economy’ refers to the independent workforce, including those drawing income from new digital platforms such as Uber and Airbnb. This column uses a survey of 8,000 respondents in the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, France, and Spain to explode some myths about this relatively new and controversial side of the economy. Among the findings are that existing statistics severely underestimate the size of the gig economy, and that 30% of those working independently do not do so out of choice.

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