Research report: public understanding of the economic impacts of Covid-19


Building on our recent NIESR report on Public Understanding of Economics and Economic Statistics, we conducted an additional 20 semi-structured interviews with members of the UK public. We explored public perceptions of the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and assessed what formative experiences are likely to shape public understanding of the economy for years to come.   

Summary of findings

Early Years Toolbox Pilot Report

The Early Years Toolbox (EYT) is a set of iPad-based assessment tools suitable for use with young children by early years staff. It includes eight brief, engaging, and game-like assessment apps that aim to capture abilities that research has shown to be the most predictive of later academic, social, emotional, cognitive, and life outcomes. There is evidence that knowledge of children’s skills enables more effective instruction related to individual needs.

The dynamics of public and private sector wages, pay settlements and employment

This report addresses the important question of how wage growth in the United Kingdom is determined in the long run and whether wage decisions in the public sector can have spillover effects into the private sector. To analyse these questions, we construct a unique new dataset that is made up of macroeconomic data on earnings and pay settlements as well as sector-specific data on settlements and cross-sectoral employment flows. We find that in the long run, wages in the public and the private sector form a persistent relationship.

URLEY (Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years) Evaluation Report

The URLEY (Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years) programme trains early years teachers to improve children’s language and social-behavioural outcomes in Nursery and Reception Year (ages 3 to 5). Teachers take part in 5 day-long professional development workshops in which they are introduced to a set of evidence-based language learning principles, taught how to use these and a range of research tools (primarily the Environment Rating Scales (ERS)) to assess their practice, and provided with strategies for refining practice.

Understanding employers’ use of the National Minimum Wage youth rates

Right from their inception the minimum wage rates have included age-related bands intended to give young people protection in the labour market. Initially there were only two age bands, 18-21 and 22+. With the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016 there are now four age bands and an Apprentice Rate. While increases in youth rates had previously been more modest in the context of economic recession, evidence of an improving youth labour market has resulted in more ambitious upratings over recent years.

Total Reward and Pensions in the UK by Occupation in the Public and Private Sectors

Over the last 10 years the relative value of public and private sector remuneration packages, including pensions, has changed markedly. This report reviews a comprehensive measure of Total Reward (TR) which includes not just pay, but pensions and other ‘benefits in kind’, evaluates it as the present value of the sum of all these payments over the lifetime and sets out how to compare it for UK public and private sectors workers in different occupations.

The Employment Gap in the West Midlands

The Youth Jobs Gap research series uses previously unseen Longitudinal Education Outcomes data to present new insights into disadvantaged young people’s transition from compulsory education into employment. The first three national reports looked at NEET rates, higher education, and apprenticeships respectively. These national reports have also looked at differences between regions – but differences within the regions are often greater than the differences between regions.

Embedding contextualisation in English and mathematics GCSE teaching

The pilot intervention ‘Embedding contextualisation in English and mathematics GCSE teaching’ trains English and maths teachers to use examples from real life and vocational contexts in their teaching to emphasise the relevance of studies to the future careers of students. The aim is to improve students’ motivation and engagement, leading to improvements in retention and attainment. The intervention is developed by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI).

Changing Mindsets: Effectiveness trial

The Changing Mindsets project aimed to improve attainment outcomes at the end of primary school by teaching Year 6 pupils that their brain potential was not a fixed entity but could grow and change through effort exerted. The programme, delivered by Portsmouth University, taught pupils about the malleability of intelligence through workshops. Teachers attended short professional development courses on approaches to developing a ‘growth mindset’ before delivering sessions to pupils weekly, over eight consecutive weeks.

Structural reforms in Spain

The Spanish economy has been growing at over 3% since 2015, above the average for the EU and the euro area. Unemployment, although still 10 percentage points above the EU average, has fallen from a high of 26.1% in 2013 to 17.2% in 2017. Interest rates are at historical lows thanks to the expansive monetary policy of the European Central Bank. The public deficit has fallen substantially in recent years and is close to, but still above, 3%, and there has been a current account surplus for several years. Therefore, Spain’s macroeconomic situation appears healthy.