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Writing student wins £25,000 economics prize

Bertie Wnek announced as under-25 winner of one of the biggest cash prizes in world economics.

Assessing the digital economy and how its fruits could be used to improve life through the reduction of working time, Bertie’s paper. ‘Automation and Working Time: How to Reward Digital Labour’ just landed him  £25,000 in prize money after winning the under-25 category of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Economics Prize.

The inaugural IPPR Economics Prize asked entrants, ‘What would be your radical plan to force a step change in the quality and quantity of the UK’s economic growth?’.

Bertie, who works on gender economics as a member of the INET Young Scholars Initiative, argued that the time we spend online is political: through our data we provide a product that is sold to generate profit. His entry sets out a plan to recapture some of this value through a digital labour tax. This revenue would in turn be used to drive productivity improvements that can reduce the working week.

‘This is a creative and forward-looking assessment of the digital economy and how its fruits could be used to improve life through the reduction of working time.’ said the competition judges. ‘The author argues that the time we spend online is political: through our data we provide a product that is sold to generate profit. The entry sets out a plan to recapture some of this value through a digital labour tax, and to use the revenue to drive productivity improvements that can reduce the working week.’

Of the prize, Bertie said: ‘I'm really happy that my work was recognised by the judges. I was lucky enough to be in a position to finish the paper given that my mum, and my dad and his partner, did virtually all my reproductive labour while I was writing it. I'm hugely grateful to them and to IPPR.’ 



Find out more about RCA Writing and how to apply here.