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The desperate search for the next great American idea

John Van Reenen, an economist at MIT and another of the “Ideas” paper’s authors, has performed studies that look at talent cultivation in the U.S. by trying to determine the likelihood of someone becoming an inventor. He found that those born into the top 1% income level were 10 times as likely to become inventors as those born into the bottom 50%. He also found that men were more likely to be inventors, and minorities less likely.

The ages people are happiest with their money, their looks, and their life, in one chart

Meanwhile, in all three areas, people reported the lowest levels of happiness between the ages of 45 and 59, according to data from the Centre for Economic Performance, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the General Social Survey.
Nurture counts as much as nature in success

How about the notion that smarts determine life success? That idea too has come under assault from recent research. A recent paper by economists Alex Bell, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, and John Van Reenen -- a star-studded list of names -- finds that at least for certain kinds of achievement, factors other than natural ability matter quite a lot.

Related publications

‘Who Becomes an Inventor in America?  The Importance of Exposure to Innovation’, Alex Bell, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova and John Van Reenen, mimeo, December 2017

LSE IQ podcast
Why is social mobility declining?

The December episode of LSE IQ podcast is now out, asking Why is social mobility declining?

Climbing the social ladder by entering an elite profession or earning lots of money is something that many of us aspire to. Yet in Britain today, how far you will progress largely depends on how well your parents did. Younger people are also facing the very real prospect of achieving less than their parents. Why is this happening?

Helping to answer the question are: Professor Mike Savage, co-director of LSE's International Inequalities Institute, Dr Abigail McKnight, associate director of LSE's Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion and Dr Sam Friedman of LSE's Department of Sociology.

Listen to the podcast via Soundcloud:

See related work:

Higher inequality in the UK linked to higher poverty
Double Trouble report by Abigail McKnight, Magali Duque and Mark Rucci, commissioned by Oxfam

Both inequality and poverty are now on the rise again and predicted to increase further in the next 5 to 15 years, but it has never been established if the two are directly linked. Researchers Abigail McKnight, Magali Duque and Mark Rucci explored the different types of inequality including income inequality and concentration of wealth, over the period 1961 to 2016. 

The report, Double Trouble, which was commissioned by Oxfam, shows that a positive correlation between income inequality and income poverty in the UK can be clearly established. Statistical analysis found that, on average, during the last 50 years a one point increase in income inequality - as measured using the Gini coefficient – was associated with an increase in relative poverty of 0.6 percentage points.

The report also examines the consequences of inequality, and in particular points to evidence that it leads to lower overall economic growth as well as negative consequences for some individuals and their families, and wider society. Higher levels of inequality are shown to sustain higher levels of poverty through a variety of mechanisms.  One of these is the growing polarisation between ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’. This affects people’s perception of inequality, results in a lack of understanding about what it is like to live on a low income, and this lack of empathy has important implications for support for public policy designed to reduce inequality and tackle poverty.

Help to Buy has had little impact on extending home ownership to lower income households
New blog post by Dr Bert Provan

The Government’s pledge to extend the “Help to Buy” programme is a further mistaken investment in a policy which has had little impact on extending home ownership to lower income households, explains Bert Provan. So, the £2bn investment in “social and affordable housing” is, while welcome, wholly inadequate to meet the pressing and increasing need for low cost rented housing for households in most need.  Continue reading at LSE British Politics and Policy blog