John Burn-Murdoch Profile picture
Columnist and chief data reporter @FinancialTimes | Stories, stats & scatterplots | Senior fellow @LSEdataScience |
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May 17 23 tweets 7 min read
NEW 🧵: how Britain became gripped by the worst homelessness crisis in the developed world Image Here the column in full

Now let’s get into the…
May 10 17 tweets 7 min read

There has long been a gap between people’s views of crime locally (not a big issue) vs nationally (it’s terrible out there!), but there are signs this is now happening to economic perceptions too.

My finances? Going okay. The economy? Awful.

What’s going on? Image My column this week asks whether the media (both mainstream and social) and its incentives to maximise engagement could be playing a key role…
Apr 12 9 tweets 3 min read
NEW: my column this week is about the coming vibe shift, from Boomers vs Millennials to huge wealth inequality *between* Millennials.

Current discourse centres on how the average Millennial is worse-off than the average Boomer was, but the richest millennials are loaded 💸🚀 Image That data was for the UK, but it’s a similar story in the US. The gap between the richest and poorest Millennials is far wider than it was for Boomers. More debt at the bottom, and much more wealth at the top.

In both countries, inequality is overwhelmingly *within* generations, not between them.Image
Mar 11 33 tweets 10 min read
NEW 🧵:

American politics is in the midst of a racial realignment.

I think this is simultaneously one of the most important social trends in the US today, and one of the most poorly understood. Image Last week, an NYT poll showed Biden leading Trump by less than 10 points among non-white Americans, a group he won by almost 50 points in 2020.

Averaging all recent polls (thnx @admcrlsn), the Democrats are losing more ground with non-white voters than any other demographic. Image
Feb 23 20 tweets 7 min read
The politics of America’s housing issues in one chart:

• People and politicians in blue states say they care deeply about the housing crisis and homelessness but keep blocking housing so both get worse

• Red states simply permit loads of new homes and have no housing crisis Image And if you were wondering where London fits into this...

It builds even less than San Francisco, and its house prices have risen even faster.

That cities like London & SF (and the people who run them) are considered progressive while overseeing these situations is ... something Image
Feb 9 31 tweets 8 min read
NEW: we often talk about an age divide in politics, with young people much less conservative than the old.

But this is much more a British phenomenon than a global one.

40% of young Americans voted Trump in 2020. But only 10% of UK under-30s support the Conservatives. Why? Image One factor is that another narrative often framed as universal turns out to be much worse in the UK: the sense that young generations are getting screwed.

Young people are struggling to get onto the housing ladder in many countries, but the crisis is especially deep in Britain: Image
Jan 28 7 tweets 2 min read
Quick response to this:

The confusion stems from the fact that I used the Gallup Poll Social Series, whereas the below is using the General Social Survey.

The Gallup poll samples 10,000+ people, whereas the GSS (below) only samples about 2,000 (and only about ~250 under-30s) Folks like @EconTraina are right to say the GSS data for 2022 is dubious because they changed the sample mode.

This is precisely why I didn’t use that data.

The divergence I find is due to using a different dataset, not including a dodgy data point
Jan 26 31 tweets 8 min read
NEW: an ideological divide is emerging between young men and women in many countries around the world.

I think this one of the most important social trends unfolding today, and provides the answer to several puzzles. Image My column this week is on new global gender divide and its implications

But let’s dig…
Jan 14 17 tweets 5 min read
NEW: we don’t reflect enough on how severe the housing crisis is, and how it has completely broken the promise society made to young adults.

The situation is especially severe in the UK, where the last time house prices were this unaffordable was in ... 1876. Image My column this week is on the complete breakdown in one of the most powerful cultural beliefs of the English-speaking world: that if you work hard, you’ll earn enough to buy yourself a house and start a family.

But let’s get into the…
Jan 9 4 tweets 2 min read
It always blows my mind how much wider the partisan trust gap is for US media compared to the UK 🤯

Most British media is trusted (or distrusted) about equally by supporters of both major parties. That’s true of virtually no US media org.

Deeply corrosive for US society. Image The most divisive news org in the UK is GB News (deeply distrusted by Labour supporters, jury is out among Cons).

Fully 25 US media orgs have wider partisan divides in trust than that, including everything from Fox News to ABC, PBS, NYT, NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg, Politico...
Jan 5 27 tweets 7 min read
NEW: analysis of millions of books published over the centuries suggests western society is shifting away from a culture of progress, and towards one of caution, worry and risk-aversion.

I think this is one of the most important challenges facing us today. Image My column this week explores how language and culture have historically played under-rated roles in human progress, and what that means for our present and future

But let’s get into the…
Dec 29, 2023 15 tweets 5 min read
Quick thread on inheritance tax:

Something that is massively under-discussed in this debate is how the “it’s unfair” argument is completely flipped on its head when you consider it from the perspective of the next generation instead of the person passing on the inheritance. To state the obvious, when someone passes away, the destination of their accumulated wealth has no impact on them.

But it does have a massive impact on the next generation. Both on the children of rich parents who get the money and on the children of less rich parents who don’t.
Dec 15, 2023 12 tweets 4 min read
NEW: The most important charts for understanding public opinion on immigration in the UK today

1) In the past, immigration worries rose in lockstep for all voters. But this year only hardline Conservatives seem to be concerned, suggesting it’s not actual numbers driving concern Image The recent divergence is especially striking because that red Lab line now includes people who voted Con at the last election, suggesting Tories’ stance on immigration may have wedged off their less immigration-anxious voters towards Labour, leaving a narrow anti-immigration core Image
Dec 8, 2023 16 tweets 5 min read
NEW: Does the American Dream foster inequality?

Let’s start with a shocking stat:

These two things are simultaneously true:
• The richest Americans are the richest in the world
• Food poverty is more severe in America than in any other developed country Image To reiterate, a higher percentage of people in America have to skip meals because they don’t have enough money for food, than in not only Britain & France but also Lithuania & Slovenia.

By this measure, extreme poverty is worse in the US than in any of these poorer countries. Image
Nov 20, 2023 19 tweets 6 min read
NEW: how worried should the Democrats be by recent polls, and are they losing young and non-white voters?

Recent polls show significant shifts away from Biden among core Democratic demographics, but is everything as it first appears?

Let’s take a closer look Image First, here are those same swings by age group, but now we’ve split them by survey method 👀👀👀

The size — and even direction — of swings varies significantly by methodology, and those steep declines among young voters only show up in telephone surveys, not online polls Image
Nov 10, 2023 17 tweets 4 min read
NEW: Generative AI is already taking white collar jobs

An ingenious study by @xianghui90 @oren_reshef @Zhou_Yu_AI looked at what happened on a huge online freelancing platform after ChatGPT launched last year.

The answer? Freelancers got fewer jobs, and earned much less Image The steeper decline in earnings than jobs is particularly striking, because it means that not only is generative AI directly taking away digital freelancers’ work, it’s also devaluing the work that they do still carry out.
Oct 28, 2023 18 tweets 6 min read
NEW: we need to talk about UK graduate wages, and the idea that Britain sends too many people to university.

American readers should stick around for the UK/US comparisons 👀

Let’s start with this: the UK graduate wage premium has fallen substantially over the last 25 years Image To spell out what means:

In 1997, graduates in the UK earned almost 50% more per hour than non-graduates. Today, that’s down to a bit less than 40% more.

Having a degree brings back smaller rewards in the job market than it used to. Image
Oct 18, 2023 15 tweets 3 min read
Some quick thoughts on why large parts of the mainstream media keep slipping up on Gaza/Israel (and why it was the same at times with Covid):

The main reason is a failure to keep pace with modern news gathering techniques, but there’s more. With the proliferation of photos/footage, satellite imagery and map data, forensic video/image analysis and geolocation (~OSINT) has clearly been a key news gathering technique for several years now. A key news gathering technique *completely absent from most newsrooms*.
Sep 29, 2023 17 tweets 5 min read
NEW: the problem with using simple polls to measure nuanced opinions

Ask Brits or Americans about immigration, and they’ll tell you it’s too high.

But ask about specific groups of immigrants, and only a minority want numbers reduced. Plenty want an increase!

So which is it? Image Well, it’s both! The public is under no obligation to hold coherent policy views, and a single question will not capture the full picture.

In this week’s column, I argue politics has become far too poll-oriented, and this is doing nobody any favours.
Sep 22, 2023 16 tweets 4 min read
NEW: a recent study found a fascinating pattern

People are becoming more zero-sum in their thinking, and weaker economic growth may explain why

Older generations grew up with high growth and formed aspirational attitudes; younger ones have faced low growth and are more zero-sum Image My column this week explores the implications for politics and society in a world where zero-sum thinking becomes the norm
Sep 18, 2023 5 tweets 2 min read
As Lizz Truss reflects on what went wrong, it’s worth noting the mini-budget wasn’t just an economic miscalculation, it was a big political misstep too.

She positioned the party *way* to the right of not only the average British voter, but also the vast majority of Tory voters. Image It may be popular at certain think tanks, but the libertarian right quadrant of UK’s political compass is virtually empty among the wider public.

If there’s a group in British politics relatively under-tapped by the main parties, it’s the socially conservative, economically left Image