Craft guilds: rent-seeking or guarding against the grabbing hand?

The literature on craft guilds assigns them many roles, variously promoting skill acquisition and innovation, reducing transaction costs and asymmetries of information, providing solidarity for members, and wasteful rent seeking. Debate on the latter has typically centred on whether rent seeking was the primary goal of guilds, or whether it was essentially a necessary evil to allow guilds to fulfil their true institutional purpose by incentivizing collective action. It is rarely suggested that guild lobbying may have been a defensive measure against predatory elites, which served to increase economic efficiency and reduce extractive behaviour in the economy as a whole. An implicit assumption..

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Redistributive effect and the progressivity of taxes and benefits: evidence for the UK, 1977–2018

We apply the Kakwani approach to decomposing redistributive effect into average rate, progressivity, and reranking components using yearly UK data covering 1977–2018. We examine cash and in-kind benefits, and direct and indirect taxes. In addition, we highlight an empirical implementation issue – the definition of the reference (‘pre-fisc’) distribution. Drawing on an innovative counterfactual approach, our empirical analysis shows that trends in the redistributive effect of cash benefits are largely associated with cyclical changes in average benefit rates. In contrast, trends in the redistributive effects of direct and indirect taxes are mostly associated with changes in progressiv..

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Why have house prices risen so much more than rents in superstar cities?

In most countries – particularly in supply constrained superstar cities – house prices have risen much more strongly than rents over the last two decades. We provide an explanation that does not rely on falling interest rates, changing credit conditions, unrealistic expectations, rising inequality, or global investor demand. Our model distinguishes between short- and long-run supply constraints and assumes housing demand shocks exhibit serial correlation. Employing panel data for England, our instrumental variable-fixed effect estimates suggest that in Greater London labor demand shocks in conjunction with supply constraints explain two-thirds of the 153% increase in the price-to-rent ra..

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War versus peace logics at local levels: findings from the Conflict Research Programme on local agreements and community level mediation

This memo summarises research on local agreements and community level mediation undertaken by the Conflict Research Programme (CRP) in five sites – DRC, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria in collaboration with the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) and the Center for Security Studies in Zurich, Switzerland. By ‘local’, we refer to any type of agreement other than a top-down centralised national agreement, which has been the main focus of the international community until recently.

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Assessing China’s Digital Silk Road: Huawei’s engagement in Nigeria

The role of information technology in today’s society has made digital infrastructure a critical aspect of geopolitics. Although the private sector has traditionally led such developments, there is increasing evidence that countries are now slowly getting involved. This paper argues that as part of its Digital Silk Road (DSR) initiative, the People’s Republic of China (“China”) is incentivizing private actors, such as Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, to build digital infrastructure abroad, so as to generate security externalities for China. This is evidenced by our case study involving Huawei’s involvement in Nigeria in the realm of digital infrastructure development, the fo..

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Two scenarios for sustainable welfare: new ideas for an eco-social contract

More and more nation states are now committing to net-zero carbon by 2050 at the latest, which is encouraging, but none have faced up to the transformation of economies, societies and lives that this will entail. This paper considers two scenarios for sustainable welfare and discusses the implications for contemporary incomes, jobs and welfare states. It is necessarily restricted to the EU and similarly rich countries of the developed world. The first scenario is the Green New Deal framework to decarbonise the economy whilst addressing the distributional and welfare issues this would involve. This paper argues that expanded public provision of ‘essentials’ would be a necessary social com..

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Quantifying political populism and examining the link with economic insecurity: evidence from Greece

At this juncture of human history populism is ubiquitous and Greek politics constitute no exception. This paper sheds light on a methodology that quantifies political populism (i.e. parliamentary populist rhetoric) in Greece through a novel textual dataset, which includes 16.5 years filled with heated debates over times of economic peaks and valleys. Combining computer with human intelligence to identify populism based upon a creative dictionary and strict definitional guidelines that fit the Hellenic Parliament’s context, helps one explore perspectives unimagined just a few years ago. Besides, as Greece has gone through a series of sharp, intense and generalized socio-economic shocks, thi..

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Security and justice reform: findings from the Conflict Research Programme

Research undertaken by the Conflict Research Programme (CRP) suggests that standard strategies for security and justice reform are routinely undermined by the dynamics of conflict. Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (DDR) policies often end up providing a mechanism through which different factions engaged in conflict can compete for funding, status, and participation in the state apparatus. Indeed, CRP has identified several instances in which armed groups were actually formed in order to participate in SSR and DDR programmes.1This memo summarises research on security and justice from CRP’s five sites – DRC, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syr..

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The many faces of health justice

This paper develops the idea of health justice as a plural conception. It draws on the literature on justice from philosophy and economics, and investigates its application and reach in the space of health. Several distinctions are invoked in identifying and contrasting different facets of health justice and injustice. These include active versus passive injustice; process fairness versus substantive justice; comparative versus noncomparative justice; compensatory and distributive justice. Within distributive justice, the health implications of alternate principles – viz. equality, priority, sufficiency, and efficiency – are examined and evaluated. Many faces of health justice are thus e..

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Land governance and the conflict in South Sudan

This paper examines how land governance – or the rules, processes, and structures through which decisions are made about access to land and its use, the manner in which the decisions are implemented and enforced, and the way that competing interests in land are managed – has interacted with the conflict in South Sudan.1 A theme running through the paper is that control over decisions relating to land, as much as control over the land itself, has served as a means for individuals and groups to advance their interests in the conflict setting.

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Cross-cultural trade and the slave ship the Bonne Société: baskets of goods, diverse sellers, and time pressure on the African coast

The French slave ship the Bonne Société traded bundles of goods in exchange for slaves in the port of Loango in the late eighteenth century. This paper presents detailed evidence from the ship’s trading log that decomposes the goods in the bundle and, uniquely, identifies the European and African merchants who sold captives to the boat. We examine the cross-cultural trade documented by this dataset and show that total prices increased throughout the trade, since the ship faced time pressure as soon as the first captive was aboard, and that the captain increased the price of the bundle by adding more goods and especially by adding high-price goods. We also show that sellers participated b..

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A multidimensional approach to measuring economic insecurity: the case of Chile

This paper proposes a strategy to measure economic insecurity in countries in the Global South. It builds a 'Multidimensional Economic Insecurity Index' (MEII) that combines four indicators of economic vulnerability that cause stress and anxiety: unexpected economic shocks, unprotected employment or non-workers in the household, over-indebtedness and asset poverty. The index offers a measure that directly relates economic uncertainty to stress and anxiety due to the lack of protection and buffers to face an unexpected economic shock. The MEII is applied to Chile using Survey of Household Finances (SHF) cross-sectional data (2007, 2011, 2014 and 2017). The results show that i) about half of t..

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The quiet emergency: experiences and understandings of climate change in Kuwait

Climate change is one of the most pressing global emergencies of our times. Kuwait in recent years has directly experienced the impact of human-induced climate change, recording record breaking temperatures of 53.9 degrees Celsius, as well as deadly floods and increasingly severe dust storms. The Government of Kuwait has recognised that the global transition away from fossil fuels and efforts to limit global warming will have profound implications for the country’s economy, environment, and social life. Kuwait is a leading emitter of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and the export of hydrocarbons is central to its economy. The goal of this research is to provide a situated account of climate change as..

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Disinformation in Iraqi media

The rise of narratives of disinformation in the Iraqi public sphere is threatening to destabilise an already fragile political system. Discourse and narratives are being manipulated by powerful elites who are banking on declining trust in the government and official institutions to aid the spread of false information. Alternative voices and opinions, from activists to journalists and human rights defenders, are also being targeted through metanarratives which serve to discredit their actions and intentions. In the specific context of Iraq, where mainstream media lack the capacity and will for verification, these narratives – emerging on social media platforms – are now informing media co..

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The great Covid cash surge - digitalisation hasn't dented cash's safe haven role

There is a debate about the effect of the extremely low, or even negative, interest rate regime on bank profitability. On the one hand it raises demand and thereby adds to bank profits, while on the other hand it lowers net interest margins, especially at the Zero Lower Bound. In this paper we review whether the prior paper by Altavilla, Boucinha and Peydro (2018) on this question for the Eurozone can be generalized to other monetary blocs, i.e. USA and UK. While our findings have some similarity with their earlier work, we are more concerned about the possible negative effects of this regime, not only on bank profitability but also on bank credit extension more widely.

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Sticky wages and the Great Depression: evidence from the United Kingdom

How sticky were wages during the Great Depression? Although classic accounts emphasize the importance of nominal rigidity in amplifying deflationary shocks, the evidence is limited. In this paper, I calculate the degree of nominal wage rigidity in the United Kingdom between the wars using new granular data covering millions of wages. I find that nominal wages were more flexible downwards than in most modern economies, but that the frequency and magnitude of wage cuts were too low to fully offset deflation

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Pudding, plague and education: trade and human capital formation in an agrarian economy

During the late 19th century, the increasing popularity of pudding in England, along with the outbreak of phylloxera plague in French vineyards had an unintended effect in the agrarian economy of Greece. In particular, these events escalated the international demand and production of currants in Greece during the 1870s, causing an unprecedented positive shock that was transmitted through trade in the agricultural population. Using novel data from historical archives, we explore how this exogenous event affected investment towards human capital. Consistent with expectations, in an agrarian economy that specializes in unskilled labour-intensive agricultural goods, this shock had a negative eff..

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Basra is burning: the protests in Basra Governorate, 2018–20

Basra has always been known in recent Iraqi history as an epicentre of protest against authority. This explains why it is one of the cities that witnessed the most protests in Iraq in recent years against the authorities’ neglect of residents’ rights. For nearly two decades, Basra has been suffering from a noticeable deterioration of services, especially over the summer. The most obvious include the lack of safe drinking water, electricity, school buildings and roads, as well as widespread unemployment. These were amongst the important factors that prompted the demonstrations that have erupted since 2010. Service provision deteriorated over time, with poor quality leading to a comprehens..

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Undemocratic parties in a “democratic” system: the formation and operation of political parties in post-2003 Iraq

This study focuses on Iraqi political parties and organisations that established and administered, under the auspices of the US administration, the political system following the first Iraqi general elections of 2005. This research presumes that the main pillar of any democratic system must be premised on a people’s freedom to engage in politics, organise themselves within groups or parties, and eventually compete for the power to rule and thus democratically realise their goals – through voting, and a peaceful transfer of power. Some of the parties that run the political system in Iraq have been afflicted with major crises, however. They believe in neither democratic action nor the stat..

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Rising top-income persistence in Australia: evidence from income tax data

We use a new Australian longitudinal income tax dataset, Alife, covering 1991–2017, to examine levels and trends in the persistence in top-income group membership, focussing on the top 1%. We summarize persistence in multiple ways, documenting levels and trends in rates of remaining in top-income groups; re-entry to the top; the income changes associated with top-income transitions; and we also compare top-income persistence rates for annual and ‘permanent’ incomes. Regardless of the perspective taken, top-income persistence increased markedly over the period, with most of the increase occurring in the mid-2000s and early 2010s. In the mid- to late2010s, Australian top-income persisten..

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The Hellenic Parliament's use of digital media in its 2019 Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea: a preliminary assessment

There is growing academic attention to both parliamentary diplomacy and to parliamentary digital communication in recent years. Yet, the study of Greek parliamentary diplomacy remains an under-researched topic. The paper brings together these two dimensions by considering the following case study: the Hellenic Parliament´s reactions to the November 2019 Turkey-Libya (internationally recognized government) Memorandum of Understanding on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. To do so, this study will address the following key research question: has the Hellenic Parliament as an institution adopted new technologies and data openness to promote its parliamentary diplomacy? There is new ..

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Systemic implications of the bail-in design

The 2007-2008 financial crisis forced governments to choose between the unattractive alternatives of either bailing out a systemically important bank (SIB) or allowing it to fail disruptively. Bail-in has been put forward as an alternative that potentially addresses the too-big-to-fail and contagion risk problems simultaneously. Though its efficacy has been demonstrated for smaller idiosyncratic SIB failures, its ability to maintain stability in cases of large SIB failures and system-wide crises remains untested. This paper’s novelty is to assess the financial-stability implications of bail-in design, explicitly accounting for the multilayered networked nature of the financial system. We p..

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The impact of public transportation and commuting on urban labour markets: evidence from the New Survey of London Life and Labour, 1929-32

This paper examines the consequences of the commuter transport revolution on working class labour markets in 1930s London. The ability to commute alleviated urban crowding and increased workers’ choice of potential employers. Using GIS-based data constructed from the New Survey of London Life and Labour, we examine the extent of commuting and estimate the earnings returns to commuting. We obtain a lowerbound estimate of two percent increase in earnings per kilometre travelled. We also show that commuting was an important contributor to improving quality of life in the early-twentieth century.

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Large-scale Victorian manufacturers: reconstructing the lost 1881 UK employer census

We present the first available - and near-complete - list of large UK manufacturers in 1881, by complementing the employer data from that year’s population census (recovered by the British Business Census of Entrepreneurs project) with employment and capital estimates from other sources. The 438 largest firms with 1,000 or more employees accounted for around one-sixth of manufacturing output. Examples can be found in most industries. Exploiting powered machinery, intangible assets, new technologies and venture capital, and generally operating in competitive markets, their exports about equalled domestic sales. The more capital-intensive accessed stock markets, more - and in larger firms - ..

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Technology, resources and geography in a paradigm shift: the case of Critical & Conflict Materials in ICTs

The mining of several critical raw materials – including the so-called ‘conflict minerals’ associated with armed conflict and human rights abuses – and their combination, refining and use in many new advanced electronic products, are providing an important material infrastructure to current technological progress. Relying on text analysis of USPTO patent data between 1976 and 2017, our explorative study provides a methodological and empirical starting point for exploring the technological and geographical linkages between technological paradigms and selected critical and conflict materials (CCMs). Our descriptive analysis finds evidence of a clear association between ICT technologies..

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The price of indoor air pollution: evidence from risk maps and the housing market

This paper uses the housing market to examine the costs of indoor air pollution. We focus on radon, a common indoor air pollutant which is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. For identication, we exploit a natural experiment whereby a risk map update in England induces exogenous variation in published pollution risk levels. We nd a signicant negative relationship between changes in published pollution risk levels and residential property prices. Interestingly, we do not nd a symmetric eect for decreasing risk. We also show that the update of the risk map led higher socio-economic groups (SEGs) to move away from aected areas, attracting lower SEG residents via lower prices. Finall..

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The protest violence of social logics in Iraq: explaining divergent dynamics in the Southeast

Southeast Iraq has witnessed considerable protest violence in recent years. Yet the nature of this violence, and its effects in shaping protest dynamics, have varied considerably between provinces, and when comparing different phases of mobilisation over time. Consequently, frequently cited macro-level factors (e.g., a breakdown in the elite-citizen social contract, uneven socio-economic development, poor public services, widespread corruption etc.) provide only a partial explanation of violent dynamics and cannot account for temporal and geographic disparities. By contrast, this paper presents a granular and ground-level view of protest violence by drawing on a combination of protest event ..

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