Boosting living standards through vaccines, side hustles and Mariah Carey

Top of the Charts

Afternoon all,

It’s been a pretty difficult week in Westminster. For MPs, there’s the whole being machine gunned by the press for their second jobs/squillions of £s/Caribbean office. But spare a thought for the rest of us: my self-esteem has been battered by the realisation that I’m the laziest worker in Westminster, with the time and energy for just the one job. Maybe we all need to up our multi-jobbing game to solve today’s recruitment bottlenecks. If any pub landlords read TOTCs, I’ve got five years’ experience and promise not to scare off the customers with too much chart chat. I’m leaving the HGV driving to the rest of you.

Slightly more reassuringly, my monogamous relationship with the Foundation is at least in keeping with the wider workforce, if not the Westminster village (see this week’s Chart). And anyway, TOTCs basically is a second job, which this week covers all the big economic issues of our time – climate change, Covid, and…Mariah Carey.

Have a good weekend,

Chief Executive
Resolution Foundation

Second jabs jobs. It turns out vaccines also have second jobs… The jabs have saved thousands of lives (and UK boosters are at last doing their thing). But, as well as helping our physical health, they also have psychological benefits. New research uses survey data on well-being during the pandemic to investigate the effect of vaccines. The authors find vaccinations boosted well-being significantly (probably via reduced fear of getting Covid and increased social interactions) and the effect lasts for at least two months. The scale of the benefit is around half of the well-being fall caused by the pandemic (i.e. pretty big) and was bigger (1.5 times) among those who are mentally distressed. So “get jabbed to be jolly” is the new anti anti-vaxxer slogan.

Perceptive public. In time, fast rising prices are likely to be a bigger problem for Boris Johnson than today’s second jobs political car crash. The latest Ipsos MORI Political Monitor shows the public have very much noticed what is going on inflation wise (90 per cent expect their monthly bills to rise, and most expect a large rise) and that the government is whacking up taxes at the same time (77 per cent think their taxes will rise). As a result, they are less perky than most economists about the recovery: 54 per cent think the economy will get worse next year vs 28 per cent saying it will improve.

Diverse doctorates. Economics’ diversity challenges are often discussed, but gender rather than class has had most attention. Partially filling that gap is a fascinating/depressing thread from Resolution collaborator Anna Stanbury on research for this week’s Conference on Diversity and Inclusion in Economics, Finance, and Central Banking). Partial because it’s focused on the backgrounds of Americans doing economics PhDs in the US (ie about 30 per cent of those doing US doctorates) and parental education is the measure of socioeconomic background. But fascinating/depressing because it shows economics is the least socioeconomically diverse subject (65 per cent of economics PhDs had a parent with a post-grad degree!). On the subject of actually doing something to increase diversity, read a punchy new blog from Resolution Economist Felicia Odamtten, marking the second anniversary of her co-founding The Black Economists Network. Read, then donate.

Christmas charts. Halloween and Bonfire Night are over, so it’s time to start moaning about Christmas coming earlier each year. And now there’s a chart to prove the scrooges are right, courtesy of NBC mapping the spread of (arguably) the most iconic Christmas song: Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. In the good old days, the fields were green and the song was primarily listened to in December. But as society has disintegrated and standards slipped, we’re now seeing an above average share of listens spread into November, and even the end of October (god knows why everyone was listening to the song in May 2018…). Just try and show a tiny bit of self-restraint people.

Coping post-COP. The COP crunch is ongoing in Glasgow, but once the jamboree is over we’ll need to deliver what we’ve promised. To reflect on what that means for our politics going forward have a read of a new paper from Onward, the Conservative think-tank. The good: there is no big divide in our politics on the principle of decarbonisation – four-in-five of us think putting off action makes things worse, including across all ages/classes/politics. But in principle support isn’t the same thing as actual support. The rubber hits the road on specific policies that require £ – people are all for improving home insulation, just not for paying for it. Poorer groups unsurprisingly aren’t massively up for costly change. The policy and politics of delivering net zero is going to need as much innovation as the technology that makes it possible.

Chart of the Week

It turns out a global pandemic and exiting the EU hasn’t generated enough work for our parliamentarians. But maybe this whole second jobs thing is just their way of trying to stay in touch – after all, the papers are awash with tails of millennials’ ‘side hustles’ and how the gig economy means everyone’s multi-jobbing. The trouble is that while breathless claims about everyone doing multiple jobs are up, actual second jobs are down, as this week’s chart shows. Even in their mid-90s heyday, just five per cent of workers had one, and that’s fallen to fewer than 1-in-25 workers (3.7 per cent) today. The slight increase during the pandemic may be down to the one-in-seven workers who were furloughed this summer and also working in another job (discussed in new Resolution research out on Sunday). So, second jobs are something that’s attractive if you can get one in a tropical tax haven paradise, but a long way from a mainstream feature of our labour market.