Media & Culture

The Millennial Manifesto

Several analysts have pointed to what they perceive as unfair treatment of young people in the UK relative to how the population in general is treated. The feeling that insufficient attention is paid to the problems and difficulties they face is reportedly widespread among young people themselves. Some opinion polls have suggested that dissatisfaction among young voters was one of the reasons why the government lost ground in the 2017 General Election, instead of improving their position as they had been widely predicted to do.

Commentators point to the triple lock that state pensioners enjoy, with the promise that their pensions will rise with inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index, or with the growth in average wages, or at 2.5 percent, whichever of these three values is the greatest. They contrast this with the sluggish growth since the Financial Crisis is the wages that non-pensioners have to live on. Indeed, some groups of workers have seen their spending power decline as wage increases have been outstripped by inflation’s price increases.

It has been regarded as a truism by politicians that the older age groups are more likely to vote than their younger counterparts, and that there are also more of them. This has given older people more political clout than that exercised by young people, and is reckoned by some to have caused politicians to pay more attention to the problems and needs of the old than to those of the young.

It is a common complain that ‘the young are being heavily taxed to provide benefits for the old.’ And it is true that tax-supported services are in general used more by the old than by the young. Pensioners receive free travel passes and a winter fuel allowance; the young do not. While young people under 25 can buy a railcard to cut their train costs by a third, senior citizens can enjoy the same privilege, often for a longer period. Institutions that offer discounts to young patrons usually offer similar discounts to senior citizens.

It really does seem to young people that any perks and privileges available to them pale into insignificance compared to those on offer to the elderly. Many of those who say they speak for the young claim that society is tilted against them.

Read the whole paper.

Safe Standing: Why it's time to remove the ban

• The UK has an effective ban on standing sections in football stadia in the top-two tiers of English & Welsh football
• A recent inquiry does not find standing responsible for the Hillsborough Disaster; by contrast, poor management and policing are judged the culprit; many other recent stadium disasters have happened despite all-seater stadia
• Advances in seating technology and stadium management make ‘safe standing’ a plausible option for sections of UK football stadia
• Experience from other sports, lower football tiers, and around Europe show standing can be safe
• Fans overwhelmingly support the reintroduction of some standing in football stadia, including female fans, whenever they are asked
• Standing can increase densities, sometimes modestly, and sometimes impressively: this means lower prices for the same revenue, and more price points for clubs to offer
• European clubs with standing in their stadia have a much wider variation between the cheapest and most expensive tickets: even if Premier League clubs kept their most expensive ticket the same price, bringing the ratio of standing available up to the European level would cut the average cheapest season ticket by 57%, from £514 to £221
• The UK government should liberalise the safety regime to allow for limited safe standing sections in Premier League and Championship football clubs

Read the full paper here.

The Ties that Bind

  • Social cohesion is the strength of interactions between members of society. These interactions are characterised by a number of norms that include trust, a sense of belonging, and a willingness to participate.
  • Measures of social cohesion include generalised trust, interpersonal trust, civic participation and volunteering.
  • Evidence from the US suggests a strong relationship between rising diversity and lower levels of generalised trust. There is much less evidence for a relationship between diversity and other measures of social cohesion in the US.
  • There are some cultural reasons to suspect that American evidence might not fully apply to Europe and the UK.
  • European evidence at a national level does not suggest a negative relationship between diversity and trust or other social cohesion indicators.
  • Evidence from the UK is mixed. There is some evidence to suggest an association between higher diversity and lower generalised trust – yet there is also conflicting evidence which finds no such association.
  • There is little evidence to suggest a negative relationship between diversity and other measures of social cohesion such as: civic participation, trust in authority, or voluntary work in the UK.

Read the report.

Sweet FA: Why foreign player crackdowns hurt English football

It is a very common view that “importing” foreign football players into the UK to play in the Premier League leads to less opportunity for English players to play for these teams. This means that English players get less high-level experience, and consequently aren’t as good as the players of Spain, France, Italy or Germany, who make up a larger fraction of the players playing in their home leagues. This, the argument runs, is an important factor in explaining the English national team’s perceived underperformance in international competitions. I review the literature and present novel data establishing a negative relationship between current performance (as measured by FIFA ranking) and the current amount of football played in a league by native players (across Spain, England, Germany and Italy). Further, I find no relationship between minutes played by English players in the Premier League five or ten years ago and current performance. Finally, I find strong evidence that a league’s overall strength (as measured by its UEFA coefficient) is predicted by the current amount of foreigners playing in it. To restrict foreign players would not directly benefit the English national team, but it would risk substantially curtailing the overall quality of the world’s most popular football league.

Read the report.

Global Player or Subsidy Junkie? Decision time for the BBC

This report, by media expert and former BBC producer David Graham, argues that the TV Licence Fee should be abolished, and that the BBC should instead become a subscription service. The report makes a number of points against the Licence Fee, but also makes a more positive case for reform, suggesting that shifting to a voluntary subscription model would encourage the BBC to compete with the big US studios, export more high quality content overseas, and spark significant growth in the UK broadcasting industry and its contribution to the wider economy.

Read the full paper.

Arts Funding - A New Approach

Government support for the arts is currently provided as a subsidy to producers. This system suffers from four major problems: it relies on an expensive bureaucracy; it distributes subsidies unequally between regions and income groups; it distorts producers' incentives through corruption, politicisation and arbitrary criteria; and it reduces competition, innovation and efficiency. This paper proposes a new system for arts funding: consumer-side subsidies delivered as vouchers to all citizens, which would alleviate the four problems outlined above, and better fulfil the central objectives of art funding.

Read it here.



Facing the Future

The British appear to face he newly unfolding century with mixed feelings. They think Britain will survive, but may be less influential. It will be closer to the Unites States. They are skeptical about many of the predictions made for scientific advantage, but confident about general advances achieved in living standards and life's opportunities. Broadly speaking they expect better times, unmarred by world wars. They expect the welfare state and most public services to wither and die, replaced for most people by private alternatives. About 3 in 5 of them expect this to happen to the NHS and state welfare, and 2 in 3 expect it of state pensions.

Where the young differ from their elders, they tend to be more optimistic. The notable exception to this is that more of them think a world war is likely. They do not, however, think that the British will regard themselves as Europeans first or expect Britain to lose independence or influence.

Read the full paper here