31 January 2011

Employment subsidies

Les Echos reports that more than 500,000 jobs were subsidised by the French state in 2010, most of them were in the non-profit sector. Only 390,000 jobs will be state sponsored this year.

23 January 2011

Kruman brings the good news...

Yes, it's official, not only do we have better welfare states but our employment records are now also looking better, at least as far as the 25-54 age group goes... More on the graph here.

20 January 2011

Power centered approaches to political economy

Just had an interesting workshop on power centered approaches to political economy today, so thought it'd be interesting to write a quick summary of it. This approach emphasise the importance of power in economic relations. To an extent, it uses methods closer to political science to study an object which is traditionally economic. While power is obviously a contentious concept, the implications of such an approach for the validity neoclassical theories are quite important.

Some background info on Tunisia

Tunisia gained independence in 1956 (from France) and the legal system is some sort of a mix between the French civil law system and Islamic law). Suffrage is universal for all above 18 years of age (with some exceptions). Ben Ali had been in power since 1987, 'elected' by popular vote every 5 years.

The size of the population in Tunisia is about the same as in belgium (i.e. 10 million) but with almost 30% between 0 and 14 years old and a median age of 29.7 years. 67% of the population lives in urban areas, 98% are muslims and the life expectancy stands at 75.99 years.

19 January 2011

How much do union members earn in France?

Below a sample of the distribution of union members household's income deciles, as was reported in the European Social Survey 2008 (http://ess.nsd.uib.no/ess/round4/download.html). In a nuthshell: about 30% of unions members have a Household's total net income superior to 3301€ per month, among which about 15% earn more than 4101€ per month. Those who earn less than 1,200 € per month represent less than 10% of total union members.

17 January 2011

And the winner is... the UK!

Below a graph plotting household indebtedness as a percentage of gross household income in the main OECD economies. One can easily notice the striking increase that occured in the US but even more significantly in the UK. But don't worry, Nick Clegg has just invented a revolutionary concept: it's called 'alarm clock Britain', it provides a totally novel way to conceptualise the middle class and involves such life changing measures as 200 pounds worth of tax break...

Who holds who's debt in Europe?

Nice visual applications in the Washington post that lets you see the loans different countries extend to each other. I have to say that on the basis of these numbers I do not find it convincing to argue that Germany's banks were too exposed for the German government to allow Greece to default... at 1.4% of German's GDP extended as loans to Greece, this is hardly a big deal.

16 January 2011

The impact of the recession in the US

A really synthetic set of graphs on the impact of the recession in the US (posted by the Atlantic). Between 2007 and 2010 Unemployment doubled and so did the share that have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. This resulted in unemployment benefits increasing by a factor of four, a quarter of the 18-29 years old moving back in with their parents (!) and 6 million aditional people went into poverty...

15 January 2011

Ranking Political Science Journals

If you're wondering how different academic journals in political science fare according to different ranking measures, have a look at the article by Giles and Garand (2007). Below, I reproduce the table on page 744:

Whatever the ranking method used, World Politics, International organisation and the American Political Science Review are in the top 5. The Journals in bold are the ones which are not picked by the ranking of the column to the left, e.g.: "International interactions" appears in column "PS Impact" but it is not in "ISI impact". If you can't be bothered to regularly check whether new issues have been published in these Journals, most Journal providers such as SAGE where you can also receive automatic updates through the RSS feed.

Proudhon, Luxembourg and Liebknecht

What do these three have in common? Well, the first one was born on a 15th of January in 1809 while the latter two died on the same day 110 years later. All were important members of the far left, Proudhon in France, Luxembourg and Liebknecht in Germany. It is fair to say that they weren't big fans of the welfare state.

14 January 2011

Inequality in comparative perspective

A nice post by Krugman following up Rampell "Why many rich people don't feel very rich" post. In a nutshell they argue that people in the top 10% income bracket feel middle class because the top 1% or top 0.1% are so much richer than they are. Obviously they're talking about the US context, so I wondered how the top 10% in Europe fare relative to the bottom 10%.

A quick look at deciles data from the OECD confirms that the ratio of the top to bottom incomes is not that different in the US and in countries like Germany and France. The incidence of low pay is also similar in continental countries and the US, while Denmark has about twice less low pay incidence than the US.

In fact, the Gini coefficient before taxes and transfers is not that different between the US and European countries. It has increased in all countries under consideration in the table below since the mid 1980s. It is striking that before taxes and transfers the Gini is higher in France and Germany than in the US! That's where the welfare state kicks in and results in much lower levels of inequality after taxes and transfers in Europe than in the US. Denmark has managed to keep net inequality virtually unchanged since the mid 80s while France has even decreased it.

13 January 2011

09 January 2011

Coping with Globalisation

It's interesting that liberalisation of trade is often seen as an ideal most forcefully defended by liberal countries such as the US. Though it is true that in rhetorical terms liberal countries have advocated for more globalisation of trade, the empirics tell a different story. The figure below* carries that point graphically. On the Y axis there is spending on Active Labour Market Programs (ALMPs) expressed as a percentage of GDP in 2001, while the X axis displays the log of the average share of external trade in GDP for the period 1970-1999.

Stiglitz New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s Hope against Hope