Prosperity & Resilience

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Ten years on from the demise of Lehman Brothers, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown believes we are drifting towards another crash – but is he right? Nafis Alam examines the factors that will be critical in any future crisis in a recent post for The Conversation.

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It’s 10 years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers (15 Sept 2008) and the ensuing financial crisis still haunts us today. But how many lessons have been learned? Here, Professor Emma Borg makes the case for a social licence for banks that could make for a more financially stable future for everyone.

The Lehman Brothers collapse triggered a financial crash in 2008

George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and, with the 10-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse upon us, now is the time to reflect on the global financial crash and ask just how likely those events are to repeat themselves.

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Could the London property bubble be about to burst? Geoff Meen, Professor of Applied Economics at Reading, unpicks the reasons behind London’s falling house prices in a new post for The Conversation.

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), supports parliamentarians by providing concise up-do-date reviews on topics that are likely to be debated in parliament in the coming months. POST, which also covers the social sciences, has put out an open call for academic researchers to contribute to policy reviews on a range of topics.  Find out which topics will be covered and submit your research evidence to help inform parliamentary debate.

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The world’s elderly population is growing. By 2050 it’s expected that one third of the population of Europe will be over 65 – and this gives older people more political clout. Could this ‘grey power’ be having an effect on the world’s economies? Tim Vlandas explains his prize-winning research.

Tim Vlandas is Associate Professor in the University of Reading’s Division of Politics and International Relations. His paper ‘Grey power and the Economy: Ageing and inflation across advanced economies‘ won the 2018 Research Outputs Prize for the Prosperity and Resilience theme.

 

 

 

 

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How can aid agencies effectively support communities and ‘listen to their needs’ if their staff don’t speak the local language? In an article written for The Conversation, Professor Hilary Footitt and Dr Wine Tesseur tell us about their research which sheds light on the issues and identifies ways to address them.

Reproduced under Creative Commons licence

After the Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal in Haiti hit the headlines earlier this year, 22 aid agencies published an open letter declaring that they would “take every step to right our wrongs and eradicate abuse in our industry”. They made a commitment to “listen and take action”.

There is nothing new about NGOs claiming that they “listen” to communities and act on their feedback. A cursory glance at NGO publicity materials reveals that they typically claim that they empower communities by listening and involving them in decisions about aid projects.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that aid workers share the same language as local communities (or at least that they use good interpreters). Otherwise, how could aid providers and aid recipients communicate with one another effectively? You might also assume that it is relatively easy to translate basic development terms into local languages. Development NGOs promote common goals, such as gender equality and human rights. Surely organisations must use common interpretations of these words when interacting with the people that they aim to help?

But our research suggests that this is typically not the case. We conducted a three-year project to explore the role of languages in international development, in conjunction with UK-based NGO INTRAC. We interviewed dozens of NGOs, officials from the UK’s Department of International Development (DfID), and conducted field research in developing countries. Our data led us to arrive at three startling conclusions.

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We all know that flying leaves a huge carbon footprint – but is that OK if we pay for carbon-offsetting each time we get on a plane? Philosophy Lecturer Luke Elson grapples with the morality of air travel in a new post for The Conversation

I recently flew to Florida to visit family. My round-trip economy seat emitted roughly two tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to one carbon offsetting website. By contrast, the average person in Britain is responsible for roughly seven tonnes for the entire year, already quite high by global standards.

This makes me a climate change villain. Dumping such huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere seems clearly morally wrong, because of the harm this will cause others. But carbon offsets let me fly with a clear conscience – for now.

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Excitement is building ahead of the new football season, and, as ever, the wait for the real action to start is being filled with excited debate about how teams will do and what scores the opening weekend will produce. To fill the void, football economists Dr James Reade and Carl Singleton at the University of Reading have developed a computer model that is able to predict results and even scores of games before they happen. Here’s how it works.

Forecasting is a mug’s game, everyone knows this. Nonetheless, we like doing it, especially when it comes to football. How will Reading do this weekend? This season?

Can you beat the computer at predicting football scores?

Given the sheer volume of information football generates in a timely fashion, it is readily collected and analysed. Statistical models are created and used to understand more about the game (e.g. when is a short corner better than a ball whipped in under the keeper’s nose?). Such models can also be used to forecast individual match results, scorelines, and even the final league table come next May.

We have created a model which estimates how many goals each team scores in a given match as a function of their own historical attacking and defending abilities, the historical abilities of their opponents, recent form, home advantage, the disruption of international breaks and European matches, and whether the match takes place on a weekend in August or a midweek evening in November.

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“It is a persistent scandal that we have children starting school not able to communicate in full sentences, not  able to read simple words,” said Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds in his first keynote speech today. Policy to improve this situation should look to some of the great teaching practice that’s happening already rather than being based on assumptions made about the home environment, say Dr Naomi Flynn and Dr Holly Joseph.

Damian Hinds’ comments in his talk to The Resolution Foundation today on the ‘scandalous’ lack of speaking and reading skills in young children mixes up several agenda that need unpicking if he is to get to the root of the issues he wants to tackle.

Reports (from the BBC and The Independent), have also cherry-picked some of things he said and conflated poor language and literacy skills, and commented on screen time, in ways that the minister did not necessarily intend.

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Evidence against a death row inmate in Japan is shaky, but retrial is unlikely because it would damage the Japanese criminal justice system’s image of infallibility and provide an opportunity for abolitionists, says Dr Mai Sato in a new piece for The Conversation.

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