Britain's experience with recession has highlighted deep-rooted public misgivings about what living in an advanced capitalist society means for individuals. Parents are concerned about the wellbeing of children in a society dominated by commercial pressures to consume. The public resent paying taxes and being unable to get on the housing ladder in a society which prizes ownership. The search for meaning in our working lives is widespread, while many struggle against labour market trends which make progression difficult or a work-life balance hard to achieve.
Is the answer to these worries radical reform of our political economy?
What would a new British political economic model look like if it was led by an economic culture that placed real value on a work ilfe balance, social justice and skill-building across the life cycle?
What role would the tax system, assets policy and the labour market play in such a model?
This programme of work aims to explore through a series of projects the potential for radical reform of our anglo-social political economy. It's driving objective is to understand the relationship between our political economy, economic culture and public attitudes and behaviours. Projects will be structured around themes: In year one these will be the Future of Work; Gross Domestic Happiness; reform of IHT and the future of assets policy under a Conservative government.
The programme will explore how different political economic models impact on individual views of 'work', 'fairness', 'the family', education and skills and 'taxation'. It will have a strong international approach, investigating the relationship between economic models on the continent, in the US, Asia and in Finland and Sweden on social attitudes and behaviours.
Britain's Anglo-social political economic model has come under fire recently, partly because it has fared less well under the global recession than some other contempory economic models. Corporatist models in Asia, and the Social-democratic models of Finland and Sweden have proved more resilient. So should we consider radical economic reform? One of the most interesting things about political economic models is their relationship to social and cultural change. In America, a very liberal economic model and liberal economic culture has been associated with a more aspirational and positive approach to work than in the UK: Americans tend to be more confident that they can overcome structural inequalities than Britons and have higher personal aspirations (even though they suffer similar problems with social immobility and unemployment). They are more entrepreneurial and tend to value work more highly than Britons. In Finland and Sweden, a social-democratic political economic model is associated with much higher levels of public support for redistribution and concern for social justice. The Asian economic models are at the other end of the spectrum and have been associated with a happier and more aspirational culture where academic education is highly valued, but high levels of economic inequality.
For more information on Economic Lives, please contact Julia Margo.