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George Osborne needlessly shrank 5% off GDP with 2010 cuts, says thinktank

The Guardian online, 05/02/2015, Heather Stewart

George Osborne “took a large risk with the economy” when he imposed deep spending cuts in 2010, and the resulting slowdown may have cost 5% of GDP, or £1,500 for every man, woman and child in Britain, according to a new analysis of the coalition’s record by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. As the general election approaches, NIESR used its quarterly Economic Review to publish assessments of the government’s record, by a series of eminent economists. Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, of Oxford University, argued that the deficit-cutting policy adopted in Osborne’s “emergency budget” of 2010 was unnecessarily aggressive, particularly since interest rates were already close to zero, making it hard for the Bank of England to offset the slowdown that followed. “The delay in the UK recovery over the first part of the coalition government’s term is at least in part a result of the government’s fiscal decisions”. The final cost will not be clear for some time, he argued, but, “measured against the scale of how much governments can influence the welfare of its citizens in peacetime, it is likely to be a large cost”. Using the independent Office for Budget Responsibilities estimates, he argued that GDP may have been reduced by up to 5%, or £1,500 per head.

Read more on The Guardian website (opens new window)

Indian education offers women the upper hand in marriage market

Financial Times online (Beyond Brics blog), 05/02/2105, Avantika Chilkoti

A new academic paper co-authored by Ridhi Kashyap of the University of Oxford predicts that by 2050, women in India will find it more difficult than men to find an eligible partner. Men in India tend to marry women who are less educated than themselves, and they generally choose a younger bride. Behind the findings are two main factors: the typical age gap between Indian men and women at marriage, and rising levels of education among Indian girls. Using population projections, researchers estimate that the proportion of women aged between 45 and 49 who have never been married will go up from 0.07 per cent in 2010 to nearly 9 per cent by 2050, with the most significant increase for university-educated women. The research concludes that ‘the rigid social structure will need to bend so age and education are not barriers to future unions’.

Read more on The Financial Times website (opens new window)

Britain tops the table for migrants wanting to study and work

The Times, 06/02/2015, p.16, Richard Ford

Britain has experienced the highest level of immigration per head of population among the major members of the European Union, according to an Office for National Statistics paper which puts Britain’s population and economy into a wider European context. Article includes extensive comment from Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

Read more on The Times website (opens new window)