24 Apr 2023 - 25 Apr 2023Online event



  • Niamh Mulcahy


Cutting costs and minimising government spending have dominated economic policy around the world for over 40 years. From “Thatcherism” and “Reaganomics” in Anglo-America, to the “shock therapy” applied in South America and post-communist Eastern Europe, or austerity measures implemented globally after the 2008 financial crisis, funding cuts are often justified as necessary to keep inflation down, reduce government spending, and so encourage industry to innovate as part of a nation’s economic regeneration.

This two-day online conference critically examines narratives of economic efficiency associated with cost-cutting paradigms, by thinking about externalised and overlooked costs of personal hardship and financial instability arising in economic austerity. Growing disparity and stark changes to life chances are often dismissed as a problem of personal circumstances or work ethic, with struggling households encouraged to manage their finances more efficiently, seek better jobs, and grow their savings to compensate for uncertainty. This conference aims to challenge this outlook by highlighting not only the links between economic policy and hardship, but focusing additionally on the ways that disparity damages economic regeneration with its own unexpected costs. These might include:

  • Skyrocketing household debt and diminished savings;
  • Increased pressure on social services from households in crisis;
  • Regional economies in decline, as people leave in search of better opportunities;
  • Reduced opportunities for advancement because of inadequate education and training programmes;
  • Deteriorating physical and mental health, alongside the cost to healthcare systems;
  • Declining life expectancy

Supported by:

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If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.


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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk