Economics Independent Learning Assignment Social Sciences STEM

Analysing the Gacha Mechanism: The Truth behind the Rates

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Muhammed Hussain, and a finalist for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 4 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 60 minutes

The following Preface is an extract from my ILA that serves as an overview of both what my ILA entails and of the process in writing it: 


It was nearing the deadline for submitting the title for my ILA and I had still not given the project much thought. Forcing myself to choose a topic on the final day of the extended deadline, I was deliberating going down one of two routes; the easy yet laborious, or the difficult but enjoyable. After taming down my ambitions I went with the former and submitted that in thinking the route would be less bumpy.  

Fast forward a couple of days and I am at my desk looking at my blank screen titled, “How Immigration affects the Local Economy.” Finally I come to the realization that this is going to be a reading fest, examining 30 odd articles and picking out what is relevant for me, only to come up with a conclusion that mirrors someone else’s with data that has been sourced from someone else. What would be my input? Besides, the title itself was bland and monotonous, exactly not what I wanted my ILA to encompass.  

So, I had to start from scratch with Mr Bradford (our ILA director) thinking I was some labour economist. This time I decided I would go down the other route titled: “Are in-app purchases a scam?” Being a frequent app gamer and statistics enthusiast, I thought this was the perfect idea until I became aware of its potential downfall: the countless different app genres and in-game purchase functions. For example, in one game “gems” might be spent trying to summon a character from a pool, in another “stones” may merely speed up time. Trying to make comparisons of the value of in-game currency between two distinct games (whose currency served different functions) would be very difficult, let alone quantifying the value of speeding up game time itself.   

With the help of Mr Xuan (my ILA supervisor), I managed to narrow down my appetite to a more specific genre, gacha: the controversial Japanese lootbox1 extraordinaire now common in western app stores and perhaps the biggest “socially approved” scam out there. Having played these games before and having previously meddled with statistics in the context of these games, I realized there was a much bigger section of this topic to be explored using more elements of statistics, I at the time did not know of.   

I wanted my ILA to be truly independent, in other words, I wanted most of the research to be my own, using my own unique methods and coming up with my own conclusions about these games. That’s why choosing such a niche topic that had not been previously explored, bar the odd superficial statistical analysis by players in the games’ communities, was perfect for my goal.  

However, there were two large problems that I immediately faced as I tried to change subject from in-app purchases as a whole to the specific genre of gacha. Firstly, gacha was too specific and foreign a genre that many people did not understand the complicated terminology associated with it. Being an avid gacha gamer myself did not help either, as it was difficult to gauge what a stranger to the game would not at first understand. In fact, after submitting my first draft for approval, those who had played such games prior to reading my draft had good things to say about it, as opposed to those who hadn’t who struggled to get past the first couple pages. To fix this, I decided to restructure my ILA so it was more easy to follow, add a definitions page for any foreign vocabulary, buff up the introductory explanation of gacha, and finally add footnotes to parts that may not be fully accessible to a lay reader. This came with a downside in that my essays’ word count ballooned to make up for the more detailed explanations. 

The second problem was perhaps the bigger of the two. Having already written a large amount for my old topic of in-app purchases it was painful to cut out the now irrelevant sections. Changing topics immediately made the vast proportion of my then ILA redundant. My over attachment to what I had previously written made it difficult to cut stuff out on the basis of forcefully made reasons explaining their relevance. This resulted in an ILA which lacked a coherent structure and clearly looked as if someone had changed ideas halfway through writing it. In the end I managed to overcome this issue with the help of Mr Xuan (…again), by planning my new essay and ruthlessly extracting only the relevant parts from my old ILA,  editing them slightly before inputting them into my new one.   

The end product was an ILA dipped in statistical analysis, coated with behavioral analysis with a sprinkle of scorn on top. I understand some of this analysis does not apply to the whole gacha genre, indeed there are some games which are not so much of a scam but more a delight to play. This essay was mainly aimed at targeting the so-called gacha mechanism in popular gacha games that have, in some cases, been criticized as “scam-like” or close to “gambling” by many game critics.  

To view Mo’s full article, follow this link below.

Independent Learning Assignment Law & Politics Social Sciences

Brown and Blue: An Assessment of British Indian Voting Behaviour

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Omeet Atara, and shortlisted for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 3 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 90 minutes

In the last decade there have been radical changes in UK politics, with Brexit and Bojo becoming household names. However, behind the apparent shift towards the Conservative Party the role of the British Indian Community has been vastly understated. Since 2010, the British Indian vote has shifted rapidly towards the Conservative Party with over 30% of British Indians switching towards them. Hence, this psephology change has gone a long way to enabling the Conservative Parties success.  

However, we must ask ourselves why this change as occurred? In my ILA, I argue that fundamentally, the shift has occurred due to changing policy within the Conservative Party, historical deterioration, and active political strategy. Using personal heritage, a range of literature and media and first-hand interviews with leading political figures such as Lord Popat, Lord M Desai and Chris Grayling MP I construct an overall picture of British Indian Voting Behaviour.  

1.4 million British Indians are currently settled in Britain, and they all stem from historical immigration. Indians have to come to Britain since the 1700s and the formation of the East India Company. They began as sailors, however, then cooks and academics came over to supply the British with India cuisine. My ILA traces this heritage, through partition, immigration from Uganda and Kenya in the 1960s and 1970s then the Thatcher, Blair and Cameron years looking at immigration policy and how this affected the Indian diaspora. This combines with personal heritage, as my maternal grandfather travelled as an illegal immigrant in 1968, to escape the brutality of Jomo Kenyatta and then my father to escape Idi Amin in 1982. The hundreds of thousands of British Indians who have came to Britain in the period 1960-1990 are distinctly loyal to the political party which allowed them in country. I also explore how geographical location has affected generations to come, particularly South Indian workers coming to Britain in the 1940s, working in unionised jobs in the North.  

However, there have been generation loyalty decline, with later generations being far less loyal to the party which originally “let them in.” This when policy from the Conservative Party has begun to appeal to the British Indian voters. From the surveys I conducted it was clear that, firstly British Indian voters are overwhelmingly voting on rationality, and often the rational policy which benefits them is from the Conservative Party. Economically, British Indians are on average the wealthiest race which often means they support the low tax policies. Culturally and Socially, they believe in harsh punishment and law and order, something which also aligns with the Conservative Party. In my ILA, I explore Cultural, Social, Education, Economic, Political and Foreign policies and the vast majority of British Indian interests align with Conservative Party Policy.  

Finally, I explored the directives of both major political parties. Kashmir is a deeply contentious issue, and the Labour Party have moved away from the Indian Government stance of non-interference. This angered many British Indians; how felt they could not support the Labour Party. One the other hand, the Conservative party has represented British Indians at the top level of Government, with 4 Cabinet Ministers having Indian heritage. Alongside this, the formation of the Conservative Friends of India has also involved the Indian communities in Britain within the Conservative party.  

I end my piece with my own political theory I developed based upon this research. Targeted Seat Theory is the idea that appealing to cultural politics within a seat is the most effective way to win seats. By using the majority interests and representing this on a local level you gain a significant vote proportion. This was seen in my case study, Harrow East.  

Overall, my ILA combines Politics, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Geography and Economics to create the picture of a British Indian voter. From this, I begin to work out how parties in the modern era have appealed to voters and then develop a wider political theory. The change I explore has gone unnoticed behind the bluster of sensationalist politics for too long and has crucial role in determining who the Government is.

To view Omeet’s full article, follow this link below.


FTRP Law & Politics Social Sciences

Why did ‘Workington Man’ vote Conservative? An analysis of the factors contributing to the fall of the ‘Red Wall’

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Dominic
Stagg, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 16 minutes

Throughout modern British electoral history, the useof political stereotypes to identify potentially decisive voters has become increasingly common within the mainstream media, and influential in dictating the way in which political parties’campaign. In the 2019 UK General Election, this trend manifested itself as ‘Workington Man’-an older, white man who traditionally supported the Labour Party but voted ‘Leave’ in the EU Referendum in 2016. The Conservative Party’s substantial victory was characterised by the supposed fall of the Labour Party’s ‘Red Wall’, a term used to describe traditionallyLabour-supporting constituencies based in North Wales, Northern England,and the Midlands, regions in which ‘Workington Man’ is concentrated. This would therefore suggestthat‘Workington Man’was extremely significant in shaping the outcome of the election.

However, whilst the significance of ‘Workington Man’ was undoubtable, the reasons that caused this momentous shift from Labour to Conservative remain less obvious. It is true that the 2019 election was dominated and polarised by Brexit, yet the root causes of the breaking down of inherent social, political, and economic barriers between ‘Workington Man’ and the Conservatives would appear to be more complex and deep-rooted. Therefore, in this essay, I sought to gain a greater insight into the various short-term and long-term factors that contributed to ‘Workington Man’s’ disenfranchisement from the Labour Party, that ultimately caused the majority of such an electorate to vote Conservative in 2019. These are divided into three similarly important sub-sections: Brexit, in both its exaggeration of growing social polarisation and, more profoundly, in the way it offered political empowerment, as well as cultural issues and economic issues. I concluded that 2019 marked the culmination of the interaction between these separate but overlapping factors, a point in which ‘Workington Man’ and the Conservatives became politically aligned. Furthermore, I argued that ‘Workington Man’s’ reasons for voting Conservative were rooted not just in the Conservative’s appeal, amore recent phenomenon arising from both Brexit and the Conservative’s cultural shift, but also in a feeling of marginalisation from the Labour Party that can be traced much further back.

To view Dominic’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography Law & Politics Social Sciences

Why did the UK withdraw from Singapore and Malaysia and what were the consequences for the region?

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Alexander Downey, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

When Harold Wilson took over as Prime Minister in 1964 from Alec Douglas-Home, he inherited a country riddled with financial difficulties. Macmillan’s supposed “Age of Affluence” left a remarkable balance of payments deficit of £400 million. The economic downturn was the trigger for calls for a review and a change in the way money was being spent and invested in foreign affairs and the military when the number of Brits at home who needed financial support grew.

Ever since the end of the Second World War Britain’s influence on the world stage had been in decline along with her empire. This led to Wilson taking the decision to continue with the post-war consensus idea of focusing on becoming a political power in Europe and adapting a role there rather than a worldwide role. Part of this meant reducing military commitments around the world, the term “East of Suez” was coined to refer to all British military bases and territories in the Eastern hemisphere, this included Malaysia and Singapore.

This region had a rather unique political situation due to the unique way in which Malaysia and Singapore were linked as well as Malaysia’s internal divisions. Following the decision to give independence to Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and Borneo forming the Federation of Malaysia, the internal politics of this new country were chaotic to say the least. The Malaysian-Chinese population were discriminated against by the Islamophilic regime leading to violent protests, Britain then feared they would be drawn into a Vietnam style conflict, especially when Singapore separated itself from the Federation forming its own sovereign state. The political tensions along with Britain’s changing international role were important factors in the decision to withdraw from Malaysia and Singapore. 

However, one can argue that the role of pressure groups in the UK were more important as they emphasised Britain’s changing role and the dangerous political atmosphere of the region at the time. Whilst the importance of the pressure groups is often overlooked, the main point they pushed was the economic situation and the cost of having military bases in the Eastern hemisphere, Wilson was aware of this, so the importance of the pressure groups was much less than the economic situation at home at the time. The consequences for the region have been, in the long run, intrinsically positive. Malaysia’s economy in particular initially suffered an economic downturn but both countries are now amongst the most powerful Southeast Asian economies and continue to grow. 

To view Alexander’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP History Law & Politics

To what extent does Mao Zedong deserve his reputation as one of history’s most notorious dictators?

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Austin Humphrey, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 11 minutes

Mao Zedong was Chairman of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to his death in 1976. Mao was a Communist revolutionary, described as having an ‘emphatic aura’ and ‘exuding overwhelming power’. He is known globally as an infamous killer, responsible for the deaths of millions, but can he be compared to the likes of Hitler or Stalin? Another question to consider is what makes a notorious dictator, and due to these factors we can determine whether or not Mao deserves his reputation. 

Firstly, we can examine the death toll of Mao. In 1958, Mao’s ‘Great leap forward’ killed approximately forty million people, by forcing peasants to stop work on farms and begin production of steel. Mao took over all agriculture in China, with no farming experience. He demanded that farmers kill sparrows, to stop them eating the crops. However, the sparrows were only eating pests, thus improving crop yields. Hence Mao’s arrogance and ignorance caused one of the most devastating famines in history.  

To compare Mao’s numbers here, we should look at Pol Pot, the former dictator of Cambodia. Pol Pot killed only two million people, which seems inconsequential compared to Mao. However with perspective, Pol Pot is responsible for the death of a quarter of his while country, while Mao only 6%. Therefore one reason for the extraordinarily high number of deaths is just because China’s population was so much greater than other nations’: 670million.  

Just examining the number of deaths may not be as important as analysing the intent behind them. Whilst the number of people Mao killed was almost double what Hitler and Stalin killed together, his primary intention was to increase China’s industry to make it a world superpower. This highlights Mao’s noble intentions whilst in power. 

On the other hand most would agree that Adolf Hitler’s intentions were horrific. When he murdered eleven million people in death camps, he singled out groups in society as second class humans, then purposely slaughtered them. Therefore, as death by ill-judgement is not the same as death by ill-intent, Mao doesn’t deserve to be compared with the likes of Hitler, who set out with the aim of genocide.  

Mao wasn’t completely innocent of malicious aspirations. In 1956 he launched ‘The Hundred Flowers Campaign’, which was an opportunity for everyone to present ideas on how to improve China. After a few months, the campaign stopped and anyone who criticised the government was persecuted. Many people, including former deputy chief of MI6 and British diplomat in China at that time: Sir Gerry Warner, believe that ‘The campaign was a deliberate attempt to flush out those who opposed Mao and Communism’. 

In conclusion, there are many ways to judge notoriety, the most important of which I believe is intent. Therefore due to Mao’s mass number of killings, but honourable intention on the whole, he deserves his reputation as one of history’s most notorious dictators, but falls short of the notoriety of those who intended to harm others. 

To view Austin’s full article, follow this link below.

Economics FTRP History STEM

How Gambling in the 17th Century has shaped insurance markets in the 21st century

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Moog Clyde, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 11 minutes

In 1654, the Chevalier de Mere, a French nobleman, posed the notorious ‘Problem of the Points’ to Blaise Pascal, an esteemed mathematician. The Problem of the Points concerned a game of chance containing two players with equal chances of winning any given round, and posed the question of how to split the stakes if one gambler has to leave the game prematurely. Despite several attempts, finding a definitive solution stumped even the greatest minds of the previous two hundred years, most notably Luca Pacioli (the ‘Father of Accounting’ ) in 1494 and Niccolò Tartaglia (solver of cubic equations and the first to apply maths to the paths of cannonballs, otherwise known as ballistics) in 1556. Even the great Galileo failed to discover a reasonable solution to the problem. Pascal was determined to find a logical and fair solution, and thus reached out to Pierre de Fermat, a brilliant mathematician himself. In their resulting correspondence, the pair developed the first explicit reasoning about what today is known as ‘expected value’ and laid the groundwork of probability, earning them both joint title of ‘the Fathers of Probability.’

Although it is easy to underplay the significance of this breakthrough as merely a clever, tidy solution, to appease opposing gamblers, in reality, it was truly revolutionary. It is difficult to understate how vast and significant the cognitive shift across Europe that occurred following this solution was. The notion that you can hang numbers into the future was alien to mathematicians merely years before this solution was proposed. Soon, others began to see the possibilities that this concept generated.

Within three years Christiaan Huygens adapted Fermat’s theory into a coherent pamphlet entitled ‘De Ratiociniis in ludo aleae,’ which was used as the standard text on probability for the next 50 years. Huygens attributed his developments to “some of the best mathematicians of France” (i.e. Pascal and Fermat). This text spread like wildfire among the academic community as it was evident that the new science of probability had the potential to transform the world. In the next few years, Huygens’ text was ripped out of the context of gambling and thrust into several aspects of life, including law and maths. In particular it was applied to a very different, brand new data set: mortality tables. Almost immediately, by using specific intricate data, insurance shifted from a form of blind gambling, based on hunches and guessing, to a remarkably accurate science.

It now is clear that this rapid chain reaction of discovery underpins all notions of mathematical ‘expected value’ and insurance came not from savvy merchants but from avid gamblers, eager to improve their craft.

To view Moog’s full article, follow this link below.

Independent Learning Assignment Law & Politics Social Sciences

Pot-Luck Politicians, A Parliamentary Chamber from Sortition

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Tom Welsh, and a finalist for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 1 hour

Sortition is the random selection of individuals, and in this paper I sought to understand its political application in legislatures before providing a potential application in the United Kingdom via a third House of Parliament. The motive being sortition’s inherent equality and true representativeness. 

In order to do so, an investigation of sortition’s use in history was made, before its role in political theory was considered. I then briefly looked at its current application in both juries and citizens’ assemblies, before considering sortition’s hypothetical applications and existing use outside of the United Kingdom. 

Once the theory was covered, I then took to explaining the functioning of the existing UK government before looking at current UK political participation in both formal methods (elections and referenda) and informal (social movements and pressure groups). 

Having discussing the underlying theory, and the use-case it was being applied to, a substantial portion of my paper attempted to outline a comprehensive description of why I believe sortition’s best application would be as an addition to the existing Parliament given the important role that both the existing Houses of Parliament play. That is not to say that I felt the chamber from sortition would have a small role to play – far from it. 

I then ended the paper with an overview of some of the potential issues that such an implementation might entail, with an attempt also being made to explain how they might be dealt with and why if they cannot, on balance, that is of little concern in any case given the many positives associated with sortition. Furthermore, if you have an interest in either Plato or Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the absolute ending of the paper comes in the form of a synthesis of both, achievable, in my opinion, through sortition. 

If I gone some way to perhaps intriguing you about my, perhaps controversial, proposition then do consider giving my ILA a read. In fact, even if I haven’t – undoubtedly it is not easy in a short abstract to fully convey the true nature of a piece of work – maybe consider giving it a read in any case. A word of warning though, perhaps read the paper one chapter at a time, as I apologise it is not exactly short. Nonetheless, if you do choose to read the full work, thank you. Yet more importantly, I hope I cause you, even if you disagree with my conclusions, to reconsider your own political views – indeed if you don’t already have any, that is fine too! 

To view Tom’s full article, follow this link below.

Independent Learning Assignment Psychology Social Sciences

How does the inescapable conclusion of death influence people’s lives?

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Joseph Gibson, and shortlisted for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: <1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 10 minutes

In this essay, I seek to understand how knowledge of mortality impacts the way people lead their lives. From a psychological perspective, I engage with our biological, societal, cultural, social and professional response to this question. I look at when and why people come to grips with the reality of their inevitable conclusion and at what point in people’s lives they should begin to think about mortality and how to be able to do so in a constructive and healthy manner.

Mortality affects our mentality, behaviour, decision making and overall mental health in both positive and negative ways, but by teaching future generations how to approach contemplating this issue at an early and suitable age in an appropriate environment, we can prompt positive responses such as motivating people to accomplish their aspirations and leave a legacy and lasting impact on the world. Through referenced research, various studies and published psychological papers, it has become clear that living in denial of one’s own mortality is ultimately what leads to negative responses such as various forms of trauma, anxiety and depression.

To view Joe’s full article, follow this link below.

Law & Politics Social Sciences

How far should the Supreme Court be bound by its previous decisions on what the law is?

This article was the 2nd Prize winner of the Lord Toulson Essay Prize in Law competition, written by upper-sixth former Tom Welsh.

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

‘How far, if at all, should the Supreme Court be bound by its own previous decisions on what the law is?’

In the UK the principle of ‘stare decisis’ is key to our legal system. As the birthplace of common law, huge weight is placed upon judgements as they form precedent which sets the future direction of the law. Precedent is also firmly rooted in our hierarchy of courts with the Supreme Court the only court to be capable of overturning it. This is vitally important to the development of the law because, as the final court of appeal, often it must decide whether to continue the existing tradition of law or to flag it as outdated and/or inequitable when applied to the case before them and change it. It should though be recognised that as the final court of appeal for Scotland, a country with a hybrid legal system, the Supreme Court must also occasionally consider points from civil law too.

From the turn of the 20th Century until 1966 the predecessor of the Supreme Court, the House of Lords, did not have the ability to overturn precedent it had previously set. However the Practice Statement was then issued in order to provide for the adaption of English law to meet changing social conditions. This was a broader aim of Harold Wilson’s government, shown also through their widespread liberal reforming legislation. In effect, they wished for both the statutory and case law to be brought in line with their ‘civilised society’ and the associated moral values.

The statement also served as a recognition of various competing aims within the law: predictability through simplicity; its proper development, and the desire for fair outcomes. Essentially admitting that it may not be possible to serve all three in every case it thus pithily struck at the heart of the difficulties the Supreme Court faces.

In the forty years following its introduction, the power to overturn previous precedent was used sparingly. The crucial dilemma being when was it to be deemed that the law was outdated and that the precedent needed changing. Many judges, with their tendency towards being cautious and conservative, would posit that this need for reform of the law must entirely outweigh the benefit of sticking to clearly defined principles. This does however lead to cases where the Supreme Court may believe an outcome to be unfair, but that the judgement should not be overturned due to the damaging effect on core principles of law.

Moving to the question of why overturning of precedent should be avoided. The law in its origins, exists in order to benefit those subject to it. In order to achieve this it must be clear to people what is and what is not legal.

This has obvious merits. A product of the modern legal system is that there are many definites in the eyes of the law. If one person kills another they are liable to be charged with and tried for murder. Even young children are aware that some actions have legal consequences. It is not just criminal law that this certainty applies to though. Within contract law there are rules and principles that can be taken for granted. In fact, it is entirely logical to suggest that the modern economy is predicated on the Rule of Law. Predictability of the law is of huge benefit to society. It must however be remembered though that the law only reached its current state incrementally over time; if we wish it to evolve further it must change to do so.

In addition, as new technology emerges the law must adapt. It often falls to case law to determine what the law will be in cases lacking relevant legislation. Looking strictly at past precedent, which by nature is based on past fact, would make this task hard to achieve.

Another benefit of precedent is its capability of minimising judicial tyranny. Humans lack moral and mental perfection and thus it is of benefit that modern judges must outline a ‘ratio decidendi’ for a decision; it prevents arbitrariness. Further there can be renegade judges who propose radical legal reform through judgements in line with their opinion rather than relevant prior precedent. For the Supreme Court to have a last say on things is crucial in preventing power being too centralised on individuals. Not in the least because it sits in larger panels of judges.

The many apparent benefits of precedent lead one to the conclusion that in the main it is a good thing. There must, in my view, exist a strong reason to change the legal precedent if it is to be done. The Supreme Court agrees, with the original wording of the Practice Statement suggesting that precedent should only be overturned ‘when it appears right to do so’.

One strong argument to be made in favour of overturning precedent is that the Supreme Court should be capable of rectifying its own recent mistakes. The law frequently assumes that the existing precedent is infallible, and whilst this seems more reasonable for long-standing principles that laid the foundations, recent decisions cannot be argued to be so. If the Supreme Court believes it made a mistake, it should be dealt with now before it plagues centuries of subsequent cases due to binding precedent.

Further, if the law is to work for the people it cannot exist in a vacuum. Opinions on human behaviour change, and social and cultural norms frequently expire. There exist many cases where miscarriages of justice occurred resulting from views we hold to be incompatible with modern life. A counterargument to be made is that moral questions belong in the realm of politics and its elected representatives and should not be addressed by case law but by legislation. This view is, in my opinion, too doggedly apologetic for previous custom to hold much weight. This is especially true since it is not the role of the Supreme Court but the Law Commission to actively review the state of the law and suggest improvement through legislation. The Supreme Court can only address an issue of law as and when a relevant case comes before it; as such it has a relatively low impact on the changing of controversial issues in the law.

There can also be seismic events that change the legal groundwork. For example, the long-established supremacy of EU law is soon to be abolished and consequently the Supreme Court will face cases were its previous rulings will be incompatible with the cases before it. The inflexibility of a final court of appeal being strictly bound by its own decisions would severely hamper that second aim of the law, namely its proper development.

In conclusion then, one could make a claim that the legal orthodoxy should always be maintained in order to safeguard the integrity of the principles of the common law. Under such a scenario the Supreme Court could, as it already does in certain situations, merely highlight areas of the law that the government should re-consider in legislation.

This, I believe, would be the wrong course of action though. Partially due to its castrating of the development of the common law but also due to the unintended consequences such as increased legislative slowdown and issues regarding statutory interpretation. Additionally, when counsel draft legal argument, the exception to precedent would become crucially important. What might happen upon the reinstatement of prior precedent from the Supreme Court being binding on itself is that the court would frequently find that the particulars of a given case are an exception to the rule of a precedent. This would lead to a state where, rather than consolidating and clarifying the principles underpinning the common law, there would exist an intricate web of exceptions to rules.

It is worth noting at this point that when the Supreme Court was founded from the House of Lords it adopted the Practice Statement because it believed the right to overturn its own precedent was essential to its ability to function as the court of final appeal.

Where I believe the fine line exists that balances the aims of the common law in perfect harmony is for the Supreme Court to be allowed to overturn its own previous precedent only when it believes it was previously incorrect to such an extent that: not only is it the wrong stance for the common law to take on an issue; but that it was, all importantly, unfair retrospectively and also unfair if it is applied to the case before the court. English law has always found ways to improve itself, often by recognising its own pitfalls and providing solutions; the emergence of equity for example. And just like the motive behind equity, the issue of a final court of appeal being able to overturn its own previous decisions on what the law is revolves upon avoiding unnecessary inflexibility. Law should be assessed by the ends it achieves, and clear and principled law, whilst elegant, is only good law to the extent that it leads to justice in the majority of cases, not solely by virtue of its nature.

Arts & Humanities Economics Geography Social Sciences

Should the world open all borders to immigration?

This article was written by upper-sixth former Anish Goel.

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

Since World War Two, countries have reduced trade barriers and have tended to move towards free trade. Should the world follow a similar path with respect to immigration and open all borders?

Most economists tend to agree with both the policies of free trade and free movement of people.[1] To a free market economist, restricting immigration prevents the free market from allocating labour most efficiently. Free movement of people, in theory, should increase world GDP, with The Economist estimating that it could make the world $78 trillion richer.[2] However, there are other important factors including the effect on the natives and the large cultural and social effects. The definition of ‘open borders’ also may vary, although it could, it does not necessarily mean we become a nationless world with no borders between country. Countries could maintain their borders and vet everyone who enters their country but would allow everyone in, except in extremely extenuating circumstances e.g. a security risk.

Open border immigration has the potential to lower the wages of native workers. Immigration increases the supply of available labourers so (ceteris paribus) one might expect wages to fall for native workers as they now have more competition in the labour market. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that migrants often take low-skilled work, e.g. in the UK in 2013 of the 13 million low-skilled jobs, 2.1 million were occupied by migrants.[3] Low-skilled workers earn lower wages and so if their wages are lowered even more by immigration, it could lead to some not being able to afford the necessities e.g. food, utilities, rent etc and so would be an undesirable policy for governments to follow as a government’s job is to protect its own people first.

In reality however, immigrants don’t necessarily reduce native wages, especially in the long run.

Immigrants are also consumers and so will need to buy more products to sustain themselves. Therefore, increasing the demand for goods and services which increases the derived demand for labour to provide these products. This may then help to offset the reduction in native wages. The Mariel Boatlift case study illustrates the reality that the influx of immigrants may have little effect on native wages. In 1980 there was a sudden influx of Cuban immigrants into Miami, the size of the labour force increased by 7%. There seemed to be virtually no effect on the wages of natives, nor on the unemployment rate even for African American minority groups.[4] Immigrant’s don’t necessarily

compete for the same jobs as natives, often companies rearrange their structure and delay their automation due to the available supply of immigrant workers. This allows native workers to move onto more complex roles with more technical ability and communication required. In the short term a certain minority of low-skilled workers may see wage reduction however overall, in the long term, wages will likely go up.[5]

Open borders may make it possible for workers to commute from one country to another which could lead to native wages decreasing, especially in regions near the border. Commuting immigrants may spend their wages in their native country rather than the country in which they are working. So, the derived demand for labour will not increase. With the increased supply of labour from the commuting immigrants we could see a reduction in wages for natives. The native country may not feel the benefits of immigration if the ‘demand channel’ is shut down and the wages of the immigrants are repatriated.[6] A similar effect could be seen if the immigrants send a significant amount of their earnings back home. So, for an open border policy to fully benefit the natives, some regulation would need to be enforced which restricts the ability of individuals to reside in one country and work in another.

Another potential problem associated with open border immigration is the existence of state welfare. As Friedman suggested, in a welfare state, “the supply of immigrants would be infinite”7. Taking the UK for example, the NHS is already under immense pressure and all immigrants can make full use of the service. Hitherto Britain’s departure from the EU, EU citizens were able to claim jobseekers allowance.[7] Open borders could lead to a high number of immigrants immigrating to use these services and therefore reducing its quality for all. However, this problem is not as big as one would expect. Firstly, in the OECD European countries, it was found immigrants contribute more in social and tax contributions than they receive in individual benefits.[8] Secondly, even if immigrants did take more than they give, if borders were opened, governments could write legislation limiting immigrants’ ability to gain free access to public services until they have worked in the country for some time.

The immigrants themselves have much to gain; that’s why they move. When they move to a new country, they move somewhere they can be more productive by making use of their new countries’ capital, efficient firms, stability, and strong legal system.[9] They are therefore compensated more with a higher wage. Unskilled Nigerians can increase their earnings by 1000% by moving to the USA.11 Thus, opening borders has the potential to decrease global poverty and inequality more than foreign aid ever could; it would improve the immigrant’s standard of living.

By increasing their productivity, immigrants can also provide more value to their new country and the world. Michael Clemens claims that the complete opening of borders could double global GDP.

Shutting borders traps human talent in low productivity countries.[10] Countries who receive immigrants increase the number of their factors of production and so increasing their potential output. Immigrants increase the proportion of the country, which is of working-age population, they bring new skills to a country and contribute to human capital development of receiving countries.[11] Immigrants will provide more than the sum of their labour as they are enterprising and often start  businesses and organise the factors of production. Through creating jobs and increasing GDP, migrants grow a nation’s economy. 

Immigration has the potential to promote more gender equality amongst natives. Immigrants often enter jobs such as childcare, cleaning and catering[12] and so the increased supply of these types of workers decreases their cost.15 In the UK 19% of cleaning jobs are taken up by immigrants.[13] Domestic jobs like cleaning and childcare are often taken up by women as unpaid labour. By decreasing the cost of such services, they become more affordable for families and so they may free women up to join the workforce. The price of childcare may be reduced enough to make it worthwhile for a woman to get a job, and then pay for someone to help with childcare.  This would allow women to have more fulfilling careers and when they join the workforce, they can take up more productive jobs and provide more benefit to society in terms of tangible economic value.

It could be argued that the influx of new culture has a positive effect on a country. Take the UK for example, whose curry houses in 2016, employed 100,000 people and had annual sales of £4.2 billion.[14] This income and these jobs are a direct result of immigration from South Asia and the culture which followed. The cultural benefits of immigration are not limited to culinary choices. Immigrants are often hard-working, risk-takers and entrepreneurial. Out of the USA’s top 500 companies, 43% were founded or co-founded by immigrants or their children[15]; immigrants bring a more innovating culture to a country and can make use of their ‘cross-cultural experiences’ to create better products.[16]

There is also the notion that immigrants bring a culture of crime with them; however, the data does not necessarily support this, e.g. in the USA foreign-born residents are only a fifth as likely to be incarcerated.[17] Some may also argue that open borders allow terrorists to enter the country, however, there is that risk with our current immigration system. Having open borders does not forfeit a countries right to vet those entering their borders. Additionally, due to the economic

growth that results from immigration, there is evidence to suggest that terrorist activity is reduced by immigration.[18]

The biggest loser of immigration is probably the nation from which immigrants leave. If the risktaking and resilient citizens leave a country, that country is bound to suffer. A smaller population will cause decreases in GDP, and due to the nature of those leaving, it may see fewer businesses set up. In Haiti 85% of their educated youth leave and thus the average education of the Haitian population decreases.[19] However, this problem can be limited. Firstly, open borders would allow individuals to make use of richer countries’ universities, if they study there, they may return to their country more educated and therefore more productive. Secondly, immigrants often send money back to their family, this extra money is therefore pumped back into the local economy. Thirdly, many immigrants return to their home country having gained valuable work experience abroad and perhaps a broader cultural outlook, e.g. 45% of Mexicans who immigrated to the US eventually return.23

Overall, I strongly believe borders should be opened far more than they already are, the potential economic value of immigrants living in low productivity countries is too great for countries to not take advantage of. Given current immigration levels, the sudden opening of borders could see too many people entering and countries could face overpopulation problems e.g. housing shortages. However, in the long run, I believe borders should eventually be opened up. Despite the fears of cultural clash and native culture getting ‘washed away’ and overwhelmed, many of these thoughts lay in racist and colonial attitudes[20]; natives often vastly overestimate the presence of immigrants in their own country.[21] Not only would immigration be beneficial economically, but in my opinion, it isn’t ethically right to restrict an individual’s standard of living based on the location of their birth, something of which they have no control over. In order to progress to an economically efficient world, where individuals’ talents are used to their potential, we must move towards opening our borders.


Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo. 2019. Good Economics for Hard Times. London: Allen Lane.

Bowman, Sam. 2013. Adam Smith Institute. 03 07. Accessed 08 22, 2020.

Brandom, Russel. 2018. The Verge. 05 09. Accessed 07 06, 2018.

Caplan, Bryan. 2019. Foreign Policy. 1 11. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

Collier, Paul. 2013. The New York Times. 29 11. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

Course, Crash. 2016. Youtube. 18 05. Accessed 08 18, 2020.

2020. European Cleaning Journal. 21 02. Accessed 08 22, 2020.

2020. Kellog Insight. 02 03. Accessed 08 19, 2020.

Matthews-King, Alex. 2018. The Independant. 24 12. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

2014. Migrants in low-skilled work. Government Report, London: Migration Advisory Committee.

2014. “Migration Policy Debates.” OECD. 05. Accessed 08 25, 2020.


Moore, Malcom. 2016. “The great British curry crisis.” Financial Times, 08 01.

Peron, James. 2018. The Radical Centre. 22 04. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

Peter Vandor, Nikolaus Franke. 2016. Harvard Business Review. 27 10. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

entrepreneurial#:~:text=In%20the%20U.S.%2C%20immigrants%20are,as%20native%2Dborn %20U.S.%20citizens.&text=It%20appears%20plausible%20that%20entrepreneurial,highly%2 0motivated%20and%20capable%20individuals.

The Economist. 2017. “The $78 trillion free lunch.” 13 07. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

2017. United Nations Development. 19 10. Accessed 08 19, 2020.

report.html#:~:text=These%20trends%20have%20presented%20a,75%20trillion%20USD%20 in%202016.

Uta Schönberg, Christian Dustmann ,Jan Stuhler. 2016. “Labor Supply Shocks, Native Wages, and the Adjustment of Local Employment.” 08. Accessed 08 23, 2020. 04907305403203309207411211103602304409102406609102810310102300503900802412 7067119093112120105004081081085105088127006024110093109114122017086027&EXT


Vincenzo Bove, Tobias Bohmelt,. 2015. “Does Immigration Induce Terrorism.” 29 10. Accessed 08 23, 2020.

Wearing, David. 2017. The Guardian. 09 05. Accessed 08 25, 2020.

[1] Kellog Insight, When Do Open Borders Make Economic Sense?,, (Accessed 18 Aug. 2020)

[2] The Economist, A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer, ,(Accessed 19 Aug. 2020)

[3] Migration Advisory Committee, Summary Report,(July 2014) , Migrants in low-skilled, work

MAC_Migrants_in_lowskilled_work_Summary_2014.pdf , (Accessed 19 Aug. 2020)

[4] David Card, The Impact of The Mariel Boatlift on The Miami Labour Market, NBER Working Paper Series, No.3069, 1989

[5] Crash Course, The Economics of Immigration: Crash Course Econ #33, Youtube Video, May 2016,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[6] Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Good Economics for Hard Times, (London: Allen Lane, 2019) 7 Sam Bowman, Adam Smith Institute,, (Accessed 22 Aug. 2020)

[7] FullFact, , (Accessed 22 Aug. 2020)

[8] OECD, Is migration good for the economy?,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[9] The Economist, A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer 11 Lbid.

[10] Bryan Caplan, Foreign Policy, Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea,, (Accessed 23 Aug.


[11] OECD, Is migration good for the economy?,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[12] Banerjee, Duflo, Good Economics for hard times 15 Lbid.

[13] ECJ, British Cleaning Council worried by UK government immigration proposals, (Accessed 22 Aug. 2020)

[14] Malcom Moore, Financial Times, The great British curry crisis, , (Accessed 20 Aug. 2020)

[15] Banerjee, Duflo, Good Economics for hard times

[16] Peter Vandor, Nicholaus Franke. Harvard Business Review, , (Accessed 23 Aug. 2020)

[17] The Economist, A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer

[18] Vincenzo Bove, Tobias Bohmelt, Does Immigration Induce Terrorism?, October 2015,, (Accessed 23 Aug. 2020)

[19] Paul Collier, The New York Times, Migration Hurts the Homeland, ( Accessed 25 Aug. 2020) 23 Alex Matthews King, The Independent, Proportion of migrants who return to country of birth significantly higher than first thought, study suggests, (Accessed Aug. 2020)

[20] David Wearing, The Guardian, Immigration will remain a toxic issue until Britain faces up to its colonial past, May 2017,, (Accessed 25 Aug. 2020)

[21] Banerjee, Duflo, Good Economics for hard times