The ONS (‘Office of National Statistics) produces annual updates on period life expectancy in the UK – the so-called National Life Tables. The latest tables are based on the 2018 to 2020 period, and therefore are the first to pick up the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the significantly increased death rates seen in 2020, this fall in life expectancy is not unexpected. However, it is important to note that the headline figures hide a wide variety of underlying impacts at a more granular level.
Let’s start with the data. The UK Forecasting Challenge spanned a long period of exponential growth as well as a sudden drop in cases at the end of July 3
Especially this peak was hard to predict and no forecaster really saw it coming. Red: aggregated forecast from different weeks, grey: individual participants. The second picture shows the range for which participants were 50% and 95% confident they would cover the true value
So what have we learned? – Human forecasts can be valuable to inform public health policy and can sometimes even beat computer models – Ensembles almost always perform better than individuals – Non-experts can be just as good as experts – recruiting participants is hard
Author(s): Nikos Bosse
Publication Date: Accessed 17 Oct 2021, twitter thread 15 Oct 21
Women in finance in the U.K. still make significantly less than men. While the gender pay gap at financial firms in the country narrowed slightly last year, overall the industry continues to have the biggest disparity.
Men working in finance and insurance made 25% more than women last year, down from 28% in 2019, a Bloomberg News analysis of government data shows. The pay gap is especially wide in investment banking, where some of the highest-paid employees work.
It is the fourth straight year that finance has led the industry rankings, showing that executives are finding it difficult to shrink the gap. Mining and quarrying had the second-biggest pay gap at 23% as the commodity boom boosted the income of workers, who are largely male.
The Maps Descriptive of London Poverty are perhaps the most distinctive product of Charles Booth’s Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903). An early example of social cartography, each street is coloured to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants.
Descriptive Map of London Poverty 1889
The first edition of the poverty maps was based on information gathered from School Board visitors. A first sheet covering the East End was published in the first volume of Labour and Life of the People, Volume 1: East London (London: Macmillan, 1889) as the Descriptive Map of East End Poverty. The map was expanded in 1891 to four sheets – covering an area from Kensington in the west to Poplar in the east, and from Kentish Town in the north to Stockwell in the south – and published in subsequent volumes of the survey. These maps are collectively known as the Descriptive Map of London Poverty 1889. They use Stanford’s Library Map of London and Suburbs at a scale of 6 inches to 1 mile (1:10560) as their base. A digital image of the 1889 map has been made by the University of Michigan.
The original working maps from this first edition of the poverty maps are held at the Museum of London. These are hand-coloured and use the 1869 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 maps as their base.
Age-standardised mortality rates are calculated for vaccination status groups using the Public Health Data Asset (PHDA) dataset. The PHDA is a linked dataset combining the 2011 Census, the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) data for pandemic planning and research, and the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES). We linked vaccination data from the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS) to the PHDA based on NHS number, and linked data on positive coronavirus (COVID-19) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests from Test and Trace to the PHDA, also based on NHS number.
The PHDA dataset contains a subset of the population and allows for analyses to be carried out that require a known living population with known characteristics. These characteristics include age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) by vaccination status and the use of variables such as health conditions and census characteristics.
While focus remains firmly fixed on Covid-19, a second health crisis is quietly emerging in Britain. Since the beginning of July, there have been thousands of excess deaths that were not caused by coronavirus.
According to health experts, this is highly unusual for the summer. Although excess deaths are expected during the winter months, when cold weather and seasonal infections combine to place pressure on the NHS, summer generally sees a lull.
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that during that period there were 2,103 extra death registrations with ischemic heart disease, 1,552 with heart failure, as well as an extra 760 deaths with cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke and aneurysm and 3,915 with other circulatory diseases.
Acute and chronic respiratory infections were also up with 3,416 more mentions on death certificates than expected since the start of July, while there have been 1,234 extra urinary system disease deaths, 324 with cirrhosis and liver disease and 1,905 with diabetes.
British pension funds are ramping up their investment in Chinese companies despite growing tensions between the West and the Communist state.
According to a new report by Hong Kong Watch, a pro-democracy advocacy group, the amount of cash invested by Western pension funds and other institutional investors in China has hit a record high in recent months.
It comes amid rising criticism in the West about China’s human rights record, including its brutal treatment of Uighur Muslims and its suppression of democracy campaigners in Hong Kong.
The report cites the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), one of the UK’s largest private pension schemes, and Legal & General, Britain’s biggest pensions manager, as two British firms with “problematic” investments in China.
It found that L&G’s China fund was previously investing UK pensions in Zhejiang Dahua Technology, which is alleged to produce facial recognition software for the Communist Party that detects the race of individuals and alerts the police when it identifies Uighur Muslims.
L&G has since divested from Zhejiang Dahua Technology.
Almost everyone I know in Britain has been surprised—for once, pleasantly so—by the success of the country’s vaccination program against Covid-19. We are so accustomed to the abject failure of our public administration in almost everything, from its political dithering, followed by self-evidently wrong (and costly) decisions, to its bureaucratic incompetence and moral corruption, that when something goes right, we stand amazed. What, indeed, can explain why something should at last have gone right?
The government decided that everyone should be immunized according to risk—first the oldest people and health workers, then the slightly less old and those with compromised immunity, and then the still less old, and so forth, until all adults will have been covered. By spring, more than half the population had received a first (and most important) dose of a vaccine. Almost no opposition to, or even criticism of, this manner of proceeding has arisen— unlike with almost everything else the government has done in its response to the pandemic—and the uptake of the vaccination offer has been high, except among some ethnic minority groups.
The government website to make a vaccination appointment could hardly have been better designed. It gave a large choice of locations, based on their distance from one’s home; we could select time and place. My wife and I chose the following day at noon at Ludlow Racecourse, where a large vaccination center was operating. We could have had our vaccination at my local doctors’ office, 300 hundred yards away from where we lived, but in a time of lockdown, we wanted a day out: so reduced have been our horizons of late that a drive of 20 miles or so seemed almost exciting.
The premise of my recent paper (Taylor 2021) is that the rapid decline in British agricultural prices in the last quarter of the 19th century, which shrank not only the income of aristocratic landed estates but also the income of ‘commoner’ (i.e. non-aristocratic) families who owned land, led to a significant proportion of male aristocrats marrying American heiresses with rich dowries as substitutes for the traditional source – namely, brides from British families with landed estates but no titles.
British agricultural prices began their drop in the mid-1870s for several reasons, from the development of US railroads and prairies to the advent of steamships, all of which led to the UK market being flooded with cheap prairie wheat. Meanwhile, in the US, high society shunned the families of the newly rich businessmen making their fortunes during the Gilded Age. East Coast high society was the jealously guarded preserve of families who could trace their ancestry back to the earliest Dutch or English settlers, and who socially ostracised the nouveau riche business magnates and their families. So, what were these newly rich families to do? They married into the British aristocracy as a means of establishing a social pedigree, whatever the cost.
Figure 1 shows the percentage of marriages between British aristocrats and non-aristocrats (‘out-marriages’) for British males born in 20-year cohorts between 1700 and 1899, as well as the 20-year average real price of wheat in London 33 years later (33 being the average age at which British aristocrats married during the 18th and 19th centuries). The positive correlation between the decline in the price of wheat and the percentage of brides from landed families marrying into the aristocracy is striking, as is the rise in the percentage of ‘out-marriages’ to foreigners as wheat prices fell.
On Monday, July 19, the country is ditching all of its remaining pandemic-related restrictions. People will be able to go to nightclubs, or gather in groups as large as they like. They will not be legally compelled to wear masks at all, and can stop social distancing. The government, with an eye on media coverage, has dubbed it “Freedom Day,” and said the lifting of safety measures will be irreversible.
At the same time, coronavirus cases are rapidly rising in the UK. It recorded over 50,000 new cases on Friday, and its health minister says that the daily figure of new infections could climb to over 100,000 over the summer.
The UK’s vaccination program is still under way, but it has been broadly successful so far. In all, 68% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, and about 88% of adults have received their first dose (this includes the 68% who have had both doses). Just 6% of Brits are hesitant about getting a shot, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But the government seems to be betting that not all numbers are equally scary. It hopes that hospitalizations will stay low enough to stop the National Health Service from being completely overwhelmed. It is making the assumption that the link between cases and hospitalization rates has been weakened, if not broken.
“This wave is very different to previous ones,” says Oliver Geffen Obregon, an epidemiologist based in the UK, who has worked with the World Health Organization. “The proportion of hospitalization is way lower compared to similar points on the epidemic curve before the vaccination program.”
At present, the state pension increases each year in line with the rising cost of living seen in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, increasing average wages, or 2.5%, whichever is highest.
As people come off furlough and return to full pay, this is recorded as a large rise in average earnings. Job losses have also affected those in low-paid work too.
This leads to a unique situation, and one which economists describe as an anomaly.
Predictions by the Bank of England suggest that average earnings could go up by 8%, hence the equivalent rise in the state pension.