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Podcast | IFS Zooms In: coronavirus and the economy

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Go beyond the 24-hour news cycle and get objective, independent analysis from the researchers behind the work. Hosted by Institute for Fiscal Studies Director, Paul Johnson. Tune in every Wednesday.

This podcast has been made possible with support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), through the IFS 'Impact Acceleration Account'.

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What's happening with government debt?

Government borrowing is never far from the headlines, and in the current crisis, has been a central mechanism for the government to fund its economic support measures. This week we speak with David Miles, Professor at Imperial College London and a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England, to answer these questions about government debt in the COVID era.

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Counting the cost of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures implemented to contain it will lead to a huge spike in government borrowing this year. In this episode, we speak with Green Budget chapter authors Ben Nabarro, Economist at Citi, and Carl Emmerson, Deputy Director at IFS, to get a sense of how big government borrowing could get and what the long-term impacts will be.

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older workers

How is coronavirus affecting older workers?

Older workers are one group of people who are at risk of suffering serious and persistent consequences from the economic turmoil arising from the coronavirus pandemic. In this episode, we speak with Rowena Crawford, IFS Associate Director, who has recently published research on how the pandemic is impacting older workers.

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University Challenge: COVID-19 and higher education

University Challenge: COVID-19 and higher education

The COVID pandemic has created huge uncertainly for students returning to university. Have student numbers remained stable in the face of the COVID-19 crisis? Has the A Level results debacle had an impact on admissions? In this episode, we speak with Jack Britton and consider some of the complex questions facing the higher education sector.

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Moving on up: the state of social mobility

A socially mobile country provides equal opportunities for everyone, across big cities and small towns, and regardless of whether your parents are rich or poor. Discussions around education, geographic and intergenerational inequalities and jobs affect everyone. We speak to Lindsey MacMillan, Director of the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities and Anna Vignoles, Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

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Taxing times ahead? When and how to raise taxes

The coronavirus pandemic has brought new and severe pressures on the UK economy. The challenge now facing Her Majesty's Treasury will be how to balance the need for increasing revenues through taxes with stimulating much-needed economic growth. This week, IFS Director Paul Johnson speaks to Helen Miller, Deputy Director of the IFS and expert on tax policy, to discuss how the Treasury might raise revenues in the future and could reform our current tax system.

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Childcare during the pandemic

The closures of childcare providers during the COVID-19 crisis have underlined the importance of access to childcare in supporting paid work and helping shape young children’s environment. However, the crisis has had severe consequences for the finances of childcare providers, which were already weakened going into the crisis. 

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What to expect when schools reopen?

This year’s return to school will be unlike any that has come before. This week we are joined by Angela Donkin, Chief Social Scientist at the National Foundation For Educational Research and Sarah Cattan, Associate Director at IFS to ask, what shall we expect when schools reopen?

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A Level playing field? Exam results during the pandemic

Recently, students got their A Level results, despite having never sat an exam. How did the government decide what grades to give students? What methodology did they use? How did this affected the distribution of results? We spoke with Jack Britton, Associate Director at IFS and expert on education, to get to the bottom of how the government calculated exam results during the pandemic.

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The potential consequences of Brexit

While coronavirus has dominated much of public attention over recent months, a new trading relationship with Europe will come into force at the end of this year. How significant will this change be and what are the potential consequences? We speak to Peter Levell, Senior Research Economist at IFS and expert in the economics of Brexit, to answer these questions.

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Keeping it in the family: inheritances and inequality

Recent decades have seen rising wealth-to-income ratios. In England, increases in wealth have been concentrated among older generations. How important is inherited wealth in determining lifetime resources? In this episode, James Banks, Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and Senior Research Fellow at IFS, and David Sturrock, Senior Research Economist at IFS.

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Catching up or falling behind? Geographical inequalities in the UK

The COVID-19 crisis has brought to the fore increasing concerns about inequalities. Even prior to the crisis though, there was a sense that the UK is not only a highly geographically unequal country, but also an increasingly geographically unequal one. In this episode, we explore these geographical inequalities with David Phillips, Associate Director at IFS.

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Investment, infrastructure, and levelling up

Investment, infrastructure, and levelling up

The government has pledged to make 'levelling up' a core part of their policy agenda. They have promised increased investment spending and infrastructure spending. What is investment spending? Why is investment so much lower now than it was 40 or 50 years ago? Joining us today, Professor Sir Tim Besley, Professor of Economics at LSE and member of the National Infrastructure Commission, and Ben Zaranko, IFS Research Economist.

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Have the Chancellor's policies been stimulating enough?

In July's Summer Economic Update, the Chancellor announced another significant spending package. In normal times, even in times of recession, this package would have been seen as huge. But, of course, these are not normal times and this is no normal recession. Joining us this week to discuss the spending package is Helen Miller, Deputy Director at the IFS and Chris Giles, Economics Editor at the Financial Times.

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COVID-19: Are people in some parts of England more 'vulnerable' than others?

What sets this crisis apart is the many different ways that it is impacting families: while the virus itself is primarily a public health issue, the unprecedented responses it has necessitated mean this is also very much an economic and a social crisis. Some families and areas, will be particularly vulnerable to the virus’s health impacts, while may be hit particularly hard on economic or social dimensions. We ask: are people in some parts of England more 'vulnerable' than others?

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Incomes before, during, and after the pandemic

The effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy has been huge. National income fell by 20% in April, to a level last seen in the early 2000s. But the impact of this vast aggregate shock on the finances of different households will vary widely. In this episode, we ask how household incomes were looking before the crisis, how they've been impacted during the lockdown, and what they could look like in future.

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The long shadow of COVID-19 on the economy and public finances

We found out that the UK came close to insolvency in March as a result of the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, the country managed to avoid that. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented damage to the UK economy. In this episode, we speak with Benjamin Nabarro, a senior economist at Citi Group and Deputy Director of the IFS Carl Emmerson. 

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The long-run effects on health and healthcare

In this episode we look at the longer term impacts of the current crisis on the nation's health and on the delivery of healthcare. Joining us are Carol Propper, Professor of Economics at Imperial College London, IFS Research Fellow and President of the Royal Economic Society, and James Banks, Professor of Economics at Manchester University and Senior Research Fellow at the IFS.

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The challenges facing further and higher education

Alongside widespread school closures, lockdown has also resulted in significant challenges for the higher and further education sectors. What will happen with universities and students next year? How will the pandemic affect apprenticeship schemes? What are the likely educational and economic impacts on young people from our response to the virus? We speak to Anna Vignoles, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge and Luke Sibieta, Research Fellow at the IFS.

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Who's looking after the kids?

The coronavirus crisis has caused drastic changes to most parents’ work lives and other responsibilities. For most parents, school and childcare closures have meant that children are at home, and requiring care, for at least an extra six hours a day. How much time have children spent learning from home? Are mothers and fathers sharing the responsibility equally? How is this affecting families' use of time? 

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Getting people back into work

Governments are starting to ease restrictions to economic activity. The risks of easing these measures too soon, or in misguided ways, are obvious: a world with no lockdown and a pandemic spreading rapidly through the population does not make for a healthy economy. Neither does a world in which containment measures have to be repeatedly reinstated after being eased prematurely or in suboptimal ways. In this episode we ask how can the UK government get people back to work?

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The unequal effects of the pandemic

Wherever we look, it seems that inequalities are shaping people's experience of coronavirus and of the lockdown. In this episode, we take a close look at how the impact of coronavirus on communities is shaped by ethnic, gender and demographic inequalities. We speak with IFS Research Economist Ross Warwick, and Xiaowei Xu, a Senior Research Economist in the Income, Work and Welfare sector.

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Is the government doing enough to support workers during the pandemic?

The government has offered unprecedented support to workers since the start of the lockdown in March. In this episode, we speak to Helen Miller, Deputy Director of the IFS and head of our Tax sector, and Xiaowei Xu, a senior research economist in the Income, Work and Welfare sector. We ask about the government intervention, whether the schemes are extensive enough and what role the benefit system can play in plugging any gaps.

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