Institute of Economic Affairs Scottish Conference 2017
On the 9th of November, the Loretto economists hosted the annual Institute of Economic Affairs Scottish Conference. The event attracted over 160 students from seven schools with the IEA providing four visiting speakers who tailored their talks to focus on areas relevant to the A level syllabus.
Following a welcome from Dr Hawley, the talks kicked off with a lecture by Professor Phillip Booth on the subject of "Globalisation and Inequality". It was interesting to hear Professor Booth’s contention that that the perceived inequality caused by globalisation, which is being highlighted within the media as the prime driver behind Donald Trump’s electoral success and the Brexit vote, is in fact inaccurate. Data provided during the talk indicated that due to globalisation the gap in living standards in different countries has narrowed over the last decade and that global inequality is at an all-time low (based on the global Gini coefficient). A lively debate ensued based on the data provided with some excellent questioning from the audience eliciting a robust defence from Professor Booth.
Martin Cox added to the lively atmosphere with an interactive and engaging talk on the topic of the gender pay gap. This forced the audience to deal with the uncomfortable conflict between what is a politically desirable policy decision and what the data indicates may be the most market efficient government policy. Once again, this was not a topic for the faint hearted and a debate ensued which Martin carefully guided to ensure maximum audience participation.
Following lunch we were provided a very practical and insightful talk on possible Economics careers by the assistant head of education in the IEA; Sophie Sandor. Following which we were brought up to date on the UK’s current fiscal and monetary position thanks to Ewen Stewart. In the tradition of the IEA speakers Ewen did not shy away from challenging the mainstream view of the term austerity Britain. With data employed to cut through the subjective emotive statements often used in the public discourse. This did not prevent the more Keynesian/Corbyn inspired students mounting a robust defence of their views with Ewen forced to defend his points on a number of occasions and the debate ending in an amicable draw.
We would like to thank all of the guest speakers, for making the journey from London and Brussels, to inspire a new generation of economists, along with staff and pupils who joined us for such a thought provoking and enjoyable series of debates.