Economics

Statistics in PPE

I am delighted to hear, via the Oxford alumni magazine Inspires, that PPEists are soon going to have more statistics built into their syllabus. This is a result of the university being selected as one of 15 participants in the Q-Step programme to encourage statistical literacy in the social sciences.

Being able to use and understand statistical methods is essential in the making and analysis of public policy. Social science only has one laboratory, and statistics is its only instrument. I benefitted hugely from a stats course provided in alongside the PPE course during my time in Oxford. I have since topped this up through Coursera and EdX.

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Economics, Politics

Oil and independence

Another link to a comment piece in today’s FT. It is good today. This time: Paul Collier says that Scotland is entitled to 8% of the North Sea oil, and by extension, 8% of the North Sea debt, on the grounds that the resources (and debt) are national, and should be divided per capita. However, while he focuses on the precedent a Scottish land-grab would have internationally, he doesn’t run the point to its domestic conclusion. Ths is that to take the SNP’s argument that “It’s Scotland’s oil!” is to invite second-tier independence. Could Aberdeen not break free from an independent Scotland in 2025 with the same locality-based ownership claim?

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Economics, Politics

Small states and stability

…smaller states are a consequence of democracy, of peace, and of free trade. Let us hope they continue to thrive. Tim Harford

As a fan of city-states, and international jurisdictional competition, I share the sentiment. However, I worry that the piece from which it comes, while interesting, doesn’t carry the examination far enough. The important question for me is about whether this is an argument for smaller states in general, or for a system which tolerates or enables them. And what does this toleration or enabling mean? What is the exact nature of the trade that France (or the rest of the world) gets from Monaco, and what does Monaco deserve in return? Can small states exist without sponsors – either trading blocks or protective neighbours? Small states may signal a stable world, but at what proportion, and in what conditions? I have added the Jacobs book to my reading list.

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