The Road Not Taken: Critical Turning points for the British Economy 1840-2010

Ref: C3747416

The course takes its title from Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken', the choice making 'all the difference'. We shall take Frost's 'wood' as a metaphor for the dark uncertainties and occasional shafts of light which characterize our views of the future. For each of seven examples we shall consider what the problem was; how it was analysed at the time - especially what was predicted to follow from different policy responses; what choice was made, and why; what actually happened; and how we would evaluate the decision now. The cases studied will range from the 'Gauge Commission' (1845); Keynes' attack on the Versailles Peace Treaty (1919) to the abandonment of the White Paper 'In Place of Strife' (1969) and the 'Austerity' policy of 2010. During half-term members will be asked to contribute their own examples.

Course aim

This course is designed to illustrate the relationship between policy-makers' decisions and the economic theories which underpin them. We shall study seven examples spanning some 175 years.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain what happened at seven key points in British economic policy-making
  • Understand the relationship between what politicians do, and the underlying economic theory which applies to the situation
  • Understand the difficulty of making major decisions in the face of great uncertainty
  • Understand the limitations of the models economists deploy to predict the effects of different policies

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

It would be helpful, though not essential, to have a grasp of the outline of British history since 1830

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

The Road Not Taken: Critical Turning points for the British Economy 1840-2010


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