Data typically show that people become progressively taller as living standards improve. But despite impressive recent rates of economic growth, India remains one of the worst-performing countries in terms of height. Using data from Indian and English health surveys, this column reveals that, conditional on parents’ height, children of Indian ethnicity are on average taller when born and raised in England rather than in India. The results provide evidence against the importance of genetic factors in explaining the disappointing growth performance of Indian children.
Caterina Alacevich, Alessandro Tarozzi, 23 April 2017
Filipa Sá, 04 January 2017
One of the factors driving house price growth in many countries is foreign investor demand. Using new UK data, this column argues that foreign investment has had a significant positive effect on house price growth in the last 15 years. The effect is not limited to expensive homes but ‘trickles down’ to less expensive properties, and is stronger where housing supply is less elastic. Foreign investment is also found to reduce the rate of home ownership, but there is no evidence of an effect on the housing stock or share of vacant homes.
Rachel Griffith, Melanie Lührmann, 11 July 2016
The rise in obesity has largely been attributed to an increase in calorie consumption. This column investigates this claim by examining the evolving consumption and lifestyles of English households between 1980 and 2013. While there has been an increase in calories from restaurants, fast food, soft drinks, and confectionery, there has been an overall decrease in total calories purchased. This decline in calories can be partially rationalised with weight gain by the decline in the strenuousness of work and daily life, and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Christian Hilber, Wouter Vermeulen, 10 April 2016
It costs a relatively large amount of money to buy a house in the UK – something readers from the UK will almost certainly agree with. But economists differ over why this is. This column argues that strict planning regulations are a prime culprit for sky-high prices and that without any real regulatory change, it is the young that will suffer.
Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Daniel Hardy, 04 December 2014
Cultural diversity is increasing globally. This column examines diversity from the point of view of entrepreneurship. It demonstrates that cultural diversity breeds entrepreneurship – but the nature of the diversity is critical. Recent migrants, rather than the descendants of past migrants, create the conditions for a more dynamic entrepreneurial environment. This effect is most clearly substantiated in terms of knowledge-intensive start-ups.
Guy Michaels, Ferdinand Rauch, 08 December 2013
The world is urbanising quickly but many cities are poorly located. Such misplacement is associated with bad access to the world markets and frequent natural disasters. This column explores historical evidence of French and English towns during the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages. Path-dependency in the city locations explains the difference in their development and suggests relevant policymaking lessons.
Hilary Steedman, 06 October 2012
As in every downturn, youth unemployment is a serious concern. This column looks at apprenticeship policy in England. It argues that England is a long way off the apprentice numbers of countries like Germany but with a clear strategy, some nudging, and flexibility, England could realistically aim for the prize that has so far eluded it – higher skills and high youth participation in the workforce.
Steven Pincus, James Robinson, 07 August 2011
As financial markets around the world turn in fear of further government defaults, this column asks what lessons can be taken from a fiscal crisis that occurred over 200 years ago.
Tony Wrigley, 22 July 2011
Before the industrial revolution, economists considered output to be fundamentally constrained by the limited supply of land. This column explores how the industrial revolution managed to break free from these shackles. It describes the important innovations that made the industrial revolution an energy revolution.
James Banks, Zoë Oldfield, James P Smith, 21 July 2011
How much of our health in adulthood and old age is determined by our childhood? Using decades of data from the US and England, this column shows that the US excess in disease is common throughout the age distribution of the population. Moreover, poor childhood health tends to worsen adult health more in the US.
Anne Murphy, 15 January 2010
Anne Murphy, lecturer in history at the University of Hertfordshire and associate director of the Centre for Financial History at Newnham College, Cambridge, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her new book ‘The Origins of English Financial Markets: Investment and Speculation before the South Sea Bubble’. The interview was recorded in London in January 2010.