A few snowflakes and the United Kingdom comes to a grinding halt. Gas supplies run low, schools close, people don’t go into work. All of these things hit productivity and GDP. So why aren’t we as a country prepared to deal with them?
In part it is due to their irregularity. Their rarity means the cost reward calculation doesn’t make sense. It is cheaper to lose a few days here and there than it is to invest and fix them. For more common disruptions like flooding we invest heavily.
But what these calculations don’t take into account is the benefit of these “defences” and infrastructure projects outside of adverse weather conditions. A keen example of this comes in digital connectivity, ensuring we have world class 1Gbps broadband speeds to peoples homes. This would mitigate the reduced productivity by enabling people to work from home. But it also makes commercial sense and would boost the economy and productivity outside of snow days.
Think of all that time you’ve wasted on a conference call because someones connection was rubbish. All that time you’ve sat waiting for a file to download.
There is a reason South Korea has productivity growth 10x’s ours, could it be their better connectivity, digital and logistical?