Does higher pay make people healthier?

Does higher pay make people healthier, or is it better health that helps people earn more? Do countries’ economies grow because they invest a lot, or is it the faster growth that leads them to invest more? One of the contributions of social science to society, and one of the rewards of studying and researching in the social sciences, is to confirm whether one thing really follows another in the way we casually observe.

Equally important, when we find an association, is to check that we’ve correctly understood what follows from what. Some of the biggest breakthroughs in social (and natural) since have come from students and researchers questioning the established wisdom on ‘cause’ and ‘effect’, and asking whether  it’s actually the other way round.

This talk focuses on recent re-thinking of how saving relates to investment, how investment affects ‘capital’ and how that connects to countries’ economic growth. The old moral tale that curbing our appetite now will bring us more to eat later doesn’t stand up very well in the modern world, where countries that consume a lot and save very little often out-grow those that save and invest more.  It turns out that economists may now be thinking on similar lines to nutritionists, finding that size is what drives our appetite as much as what derives from it. More re-thinking is still needed on what it actually means to save and invest, how these affect what we can sustainably consume in future, and what exactly our ‘capital’ is.

Presentation time: 
Monday, 30 June, 2014 - 16:00
Presenter(s): 

Alan Shipman

Alan Shipman is currently involved in the new first-year social sciences module (DD103), which introduces various ways in which the social world can be investigated, interpreted and (perhaps) made better through policy choice. On the side, he recently published ‘Capitalism Without Capital’, which suggests that a key concept used by social scientists (from Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty) hasn’t really been given a consistent definition or workable measurement, and may not be very helpful in understanding the system named after it.