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Student volunteers at the University of Essex

This article was originally published on the Understanding Society blog on 24 July 2019 and has been reproduced here with permission.

A new working paper asks whether people on the left or right (or in the centre) give more to charity

In 2017, people in the UK gave over £10 billion to charity, and ONS figures suggest that unpaid labour in the form of volunteering is worth over £20 billion.

But what motivates us to give our money or time? There’s existing research which shows that we give in order to feel good, or to look good to others, but we wanted to look at another motivation: our political leanings.

Mixed results from other data

This question has been explored in America, with mixed results. Some suggest that conservatives give more, and others seem to show that it’s liberals who are more generous. …

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Photo from Terry from uk [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

A wide variety of public services exists to provide support and help to victims of domestic violence. These services include counselling and emotional support, refuge housing and safety planning. However, lack of information regarding what services are available or how to access them creates significant barriers, preventing many victims who would benefit from these services from using them.

New research by Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner (University of Surrey), Jesse Matheson (University of Sheffield), and Reka Plugor (University of Leicester) finds that reducing these barriers leads not only to greater use of these public services, but also leads to a more efficient use of police resources. …

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The number of undergraduate students applying for postgraduate study has grown rapidly over the past decade.

Two of the questions that students often ask when considering applying for their postgraduate course are:

  1. Will I earn more by gaining a postgraduate qualification?
  2. Which postgraduate programme will give me the best return?

This research from Dr Pem Lenton at the University of Sheffield attempts to answer both questions by examining the wage return to postgraduate study, but crucially distinguishing between the subject studied at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Altogether, seventeen subject areas were examined to obtain wage returns across different combinations of these subjects. There are subject changes which are beneficial to take for larger wage returns and those which produce a wage penalty, and therefore should be avoided if students are wishing to maximise their wage returns from postgraduate study. …

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This article was originally published on VOX 2 June 2019
https://voxeu.org/article/household-location-english-cities

Richer households have typically chosen to live in the suburbs of big cities because of the lower prices and larger properties. This column reports evidence from England that multiple factors now influence household location, including such urban amenities as parks, monuments, restaurants, and public transport. Analysis of the eight largest cities outside London finds no systematic relationship between income and household distance to the city centre. …

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Avoiding weekend working improves satisfaction with leisure time by the same amount as working six fewer hours per week

Every weekend in the UK one in five adults in the labour force is at work, while more than half of us work at the weekend at least some of the time.

This is a finding in a new research paper by Dr Andrew Bryce (University of Sheffield), based on analysis of two large-scale national surveys (the Labour Force Survey and Understanding Society: The UK Household Longitudinal Survey) he explores whether weekend working matters for our well-being.

The existing evidence shows that non-standard daily work routines (e.g. shift working or night working) have a detrimental impact on health and well-being. However, the evidence on how deviations from a standard Monday to Friday working schedule affect our well-being has, until now, been less clear. After all, it is only social convention that distinguishes Saturday and Sunday as being rest days so does it matter which days of the week we work? …

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Credit; U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens

New research has found that foreign aid has the highest impact when it is unconditional, where local governments are free to give it to those in most need.

A new study from Samuel Lordemus (University of Sheffield) analyses the effectiveness of aid conditionality (meaning with conditions attached) and found that although it increases local expenditure, it may not serve those in most need. Therefore, this way of allocating aid could significantly reduce the welfare of the neediest if donors don’t have accurate information.

These findings highlight the risk of overusing aid conditionality and its potentially disruptive effects on the health financing system of the recipient country. When local communities have accurate information about the distribution of health need, country ownership of foreign aid increases the efficiency of aid. …

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The average commuter in the UK spends nearly an hour a day travelling to and from work. This is equivalent to about 12 percent of the working week, and is gradually increasing over time.

The assumption is that workers are compensated for their commuting, either at work through higher wages or a better job, or in the housing market through a larger home or a better neighbourhood.

A recent study by Jennifer Roberts (University of Sheffield), Luke Munford (University of Manchester), Nigel Rice and Nikita Jacobs (University of York) shows that even when this potential compensation is allowed for, women’s mental health is adversely affected by increases in commuting time, but men’s is not. …

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Capitol Building, Washington DC

The years since the election of Donald Trump have been a rollercoaster in US politics. The mid-term elections on the 6 November 2018 could make or break Trump’s presidency. Losing control of the House of Representatives would be a disaster for Trump. If the Democrats regain control of the House they likely will oppose his policies on all fronts.

The Democrat’s priority will be to retake Congress, but Trump and the Republicans face a test alongside the vote for the House: the governor elections — which occur on the same day as the mid-term elections. There are 36 state governors up for election, 26 of which are Republicans. In the US federal architecture, the governors play a vital role in the political system. The governor’s main function is to improve their state’s social and economic performance. However, in times of growing polarisation between the two parties, it is becoming much harder to have uniform policy at the federal and state level. Current Democratic governors are leading the way in the ‘resistance’ against Trump. For instance, Jerry Brown, governor of California, has opposed Trump on immigration and climate change, most notably. …

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In recent years, migration has been blamed for a host of society’s ailments, ranging from underfunded and congested public services to poorly maintained infrastructure, regional income disparities or simply the bad weather in the North East of England.

What has been missing from this discourse is whether or not recessions and booms can also be blamed on variations in the rate of net migration. Does an unexpectedly large inflow of migrants cause an economic expansion or a recession?

A recent paper by Christie Smith (Reserve Bank of New Zealand) and Christoph Thoenissen (University of Sheffield) analyses the contribution that migration shocks make to cyclical fluctuations in a small open economy. The empirical part of their paper uses New Zealand data, because migration flows into the Antipodes have been extremely large and New Zealand has excellent migration data. …

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Women whose attitudes towards gender are equal — suffer more from unemployment than their women with more traditional attitudes. This is one of the findings of research into how the loss of a job affects the life satisfaction of men and women in the UK.

For women, the experience of job loss is much more damaging if they have egalitarian views on gender roles, as opposed to traditional gender attitudes. Women with traditional gender attitudes may not suffer at all from losing a job, while women with egalitarian gender attitudes suffer more.

The gender attitudes of men does not influence their experience of job loss. This may be because work has always been part of men’s social identity, regardless of whether they hold an egalitarian or traditional attitudes. …

About

Sheff Economics Research

Research from the Department of Economics, University of Sheffield

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