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A BBC news report on the widening gulf in income and wealth inequality in the United States (and New York in particular). Income inequality is now as high as it was during the worst period of the 1920s. The richest Americans now hold one fifth of all of the country's income - and the top 10% actually hold half of it.read more...»
This Channel 4 news report looks at va growing protest movement among food industry workers campaigning against zero hours contracts and persistent low pay. Zero-hours contracts do not guarantee a minimum number of hours of employment. It has been estimated that 583,000 people, around 2% of the UK workforce, were employed on zero-hours contracts between October and December 2013. The actual figure is likely to be substantially higher than that.read more...»
Metropolitan liberals love to be able to criticise Western society. Recently, their lives have been brightened by the extensive discussion on the rise in inequality since the 1970s, especially in the Anglo-Saxon economies. There is a danger that this essentially anti-capitalist narrative will come to dominate the media, paving the way for increased regulation and the sorts of failed statist interventions in the economy which were a consistent theme in British political economy for nearly four decades after the Second World War.read more...»
CEP Director, John Van Reenen, explains the reasons why inequality in the UK has been rising. For more films covering aspects of economic policy we recommend you take a look at the Facebook page - Click here! https://www.facebook.com/EconFilmsread more...»
Income and wealth inequality in the UK are higher than most people think they are and higher than they think they should be. These are among the messages of a new online infographics film:read more...»
The Gini coefficient is a commonly-used measure of income inequality that condenses the entire income distribution for a country into a single number between 0 and 1: the higher the number, the greater the degree of income inequality.read more...»
The new annual report from the Asian Development Bank outlines what developing Asia needs to promote inclusive growth in the years ahead. Governments in the region should tackle widening inequality that is keeping millions poor, by using fiscal policy to help close income and wealth gaps and promote more inclusive growth, says the theme chapter of Asian Development Outlook 2014. The importance of equity in shaping future growth and development continues to gain momentum across the world and not just in the fast-growing Asian region.read more...»
Removing the barriers to labour market participation that women face in many parts of the world will lead to substantial productivity gains, according to research by Marc Teignier, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 conference.read more...»
There seems little that is stopping the surge in London house prices at the moment but do you think the rapid acceleration of prices is good for either London or the wider UK economy?read more...»
I thought it worthwhile sharing my resources which I have been collecting for students (and teachers alike). I have been promoting them on Twitter (@Economics_KSF) through scoop.it but for those of you not on there, the link for the scoop.it boards are here:read more...»
Concern about inequalities of income and wealth is now a fashionable topic. It featured strongly in the gathering of the world’s top brass at Davos earlier this year. Much of the popular coverage of the topic gives the impression that not only is inequality at record highs, but that it is confined to the wicked Anglo-Saxon economies.
A recent paper published by authors linked to the George Soros-funded Institute for New Economic Thinking shows very decisively that neither of these points is true.read more...»
Inequality is an issue that remains firmly in the spotlight of the news media and also of policy makers in different countries.read more...»
Inequality might be falling between nations as a global middle class is emerging, but inequality is on the rise within nations. Quite why this is happening is a matter of debate, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has joined in the discussion asking if rising inequality is an obstacle to economic growth and development.read more...»
Economics coverage of Africa can be a bit bleak (though perhaps it shouldn't be, with incomes rising rapidly in parts of Africa). There are often bad news stories, particularly in terms of human development indicators. News of economic progress often centres on the exploitation of primary commodities, with all the risks and issues that presents.
If you hope Africa will experience development, you’re likely to want to see sustained and robust economic growth. That, in turn, will require industrialization.read more...»
You all know about exploding rates of urbanisation and the growth of mega cities. There’s much to celebrate in this trend, and economists are keen to advise countries how to urbanise successfully.
After all, for most subsistence farmers, life can be so grim that even life in a slum or shanty town can be a marked improvement. I’ve reluctantly admitted this fact to myself, and come to see slums as a stepping stone on the process of development.
A new study, reported in the Economist, suggests I might be wrong, and that we shouldn’t be ready to tolerate slums, and should be more determined to see their eradication – they might even be a barrier to development.read more...»
Natural resource economics are applied in this new World Bank blog to the Eurasian region - plenty of overlap with your studies on the issue in the context of sub Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. Click here for the blog article.
Click here for a blog article on the natural resource curse from Graham Watson (2012)
Our streamed revision presentation on the topic is belowread more...»
If you attended the recent tutor2u revision conferences for up-coming micro-economic exams (look out for the macro workshops and combined micro and macro to come in March) you will have seen how fuel-pricing was used as an example of market failure, government intervention strategies and government failure.
Fortunately, the energy market is a gift that keeps giving to us in the economics world (every cloud has a silver lining) as a report out today (see this link for the BBC version of the story) indicates that Parliament is about to intervene to try and stop the energy companies charging more to customers who pay by cash rather than by direct debit (£114 per year, according to the report).read more...»
As the comedian Mark Steel once said, “anybody who says we’re all middle class now obviously hasn’t been to Wigan” (I can make that joke because my dad’s from there). One huge global cause for celebration is that the scourge of absolute poverty is in retreat. Instead we hear much more about rising inequality within nations, which is progress, of a sort. In amongst these discussions is talk of a rising new middle class (see above – link here). What might this mean?read more...»
Notes from a talk given by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Head of Research at Oxfam) at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2014read more...»
Notes taken from the Marshall Society Economics Conference - this panel session focused on growth and development issues in South Korea and sub Saharan Africaread more...»
Here are some notes taken from a talk given by Peter Coy, Economics Editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2015read more...»
It's the time of year when many commentators are going back to basics and asking if our dominant economic model - free market capitalism - is a force for good in the world.read more...»
According to Oxfam, half of all the world's wealth is owned by 85 people, who could all fit onto a single double-decker bus.read more...»
This resource from The Guardian could offer students an excellent way of considering the negative social consequences of civil war and internal conflict.read more...»
This short you tube clip published by the World Bank looks at some salient facts and figures on the extent of extreme poverty in the world
The extreme poor live on less the US$1.25 a day. Many lack basic sanitation and clean drinking water; they're malnourished and suffer from lack of education. The facts speak volumesread more...»
The GINI coefficient for Switzerland is already low, at 29.6 (compared to the UK's 34, US's 45 and an EU average 30.4). Current data indicates the relative strength of the economy - real GDP growth at 1.9% in quarter 3 of 2013 (compared with a year earlier), 3.2% unemployment, real incomes rising, a current account surplus, high levels of both inward and outward FDI and a small government budget surplus. But things can always be improved, and the Swiss approach to 'direct democracy', which allows citizens to call for a referendum on anything they want, if they can gather 100,000 signatures calling for a vote, is currently resulting in a series of proposals to promote equality and social welfare.read more...»
Calling all previous delegates of our Wow Economics CPD events! If you attended Wow Economics last academic year (2012-2013) you may recall an activity called 'The Average Wage Game'. If you have attended this academic year I'm sure you will remember the activity 'The Value of Occupations'. Both resources were aimed at introducing or stimulating initial discussion about wage determination before moving on to developing the theory behind Marginal Revenue Product and its value.
Both activities relied upon data relating to UK wage rates by occupation. This data was based upon information taken from what was the latest ONS report on wages in the UK (November 2012). I said, at the time, that when the data was updated I would forward information for both games so that teachers can update them accordingly. This information is now here and ready for you to download!read more...»
We can get such a lot from maps and infographics - far more than one blog can cover. Before I set to work putting a few favourites together, here's a great one for UK earnings.read more...»
Boris Johnson has got into trouble for his statement that it is "surely relevant to a conversation about equality" that just 2 per cent of “our species” has an IQ over 130. Over the past couple of years, the Occupy movement has made headlines by attacking the top 1 per cent.
The summer 2013 edition of the top American Journal of Economic Perspectives focuses specifically on the “Top 1 Per Cent”. This is written almost exclusively in English rather than maths, and top economists debate a range of intriguing questions.read more...»
Twenty years ago, South Africa had a GDP of $136bn. Today, that has almost tripled to $385bn. Tax receipts have risen from 114bn South African Rand to 814bn Rand, and in the last ten years labour productivity per worker has risen from $8,800 to $25,600. Electricity was available to only 58% of households in 1996, now it is available to 85%. And social grants for welfare which were paid to 2.4mn people in 1994 are now paid to 16.1mn.read more...»
Hopefully the UK economy will turn a corner in 2014 and return to robust growth and good health, raising living standards for some of the poorest people in the UK. It would be very odd if you hadn't reflected on the plight of the poor in the UK over the last few years, and in the build up to Christmas.
Much discussion of poverty in Economics is of a normative nature. What do we mean by poverty anyway? Isn't it all just a matter of opinion? Is poverty a lifestyle choice, picked up by people who have been given the wrong incentives by the welfare system? Perhaps it's the fault of immigrants, or greedy business, or dishonest politicians.....
Some relatively impartial data would be very welcome in this very heated debate.read more...»
Working with one of my A2 Economics classes, we spent a few lessons rsearching useful case studies for the development economics section of Edexcel's course. Here is the results of our work.read more...»
The cost of renting property in many parts of the UK continues to rise - would rent controls make any difference? Here is an updated Unit 1 economics revision presentation.read more...»
This is an updated revision presentation covering aspects of inequality and economic growth/development - it is designed for Year 13 A2 macro studentsread more...»
The biggest issue facing capitalism in modern times is the moral critique. This is partly due to a misunderstanding of capitalism, which has allowed it to become synonymous with “fat cat” bankers, “wide boys” and the fast and loose nature of our booming financial centres and cities. These are good in their own right, providing many jobs directly and indirectly and through their role as the life-giving force in the economy with small business support, which was albeit more prominent before the crash.
I've recently looked at the issue of a smaller slice of GDP going to wages, and here are a couple of links and updates on the minimum wage discussion. For those of you who follow this topic, you’ll also perhaps be familiar with the idea of a living wage, which is based around the argument that minimum wages are too low anyway.read more...»
Don't you just love the BBC website? Just as I am preparing my lessons on global Poverty and Inequality for my A2 Macro students, here is an article written by Hans Rosling about the enormous progress most countries have made in recent decades. He uses statistics to suggest that tremendous global progress has been made towards improving quality of lives in five key ways.
There is a quiz - How Much Do You Know About The World, or 'The Ignorance Test', which will make a great lesson starter.
And as a follow-up, BBC2 has an hour-long programme tonight at 21.00 (22.30 in Scotland) called Don't Panic - the truth about Population (which will be available on i-player) - the programme synopsis says
"Using state of the art 3D graphics and the timing of a stand-up comedian, world famous statistician Professor Hans Rosling presents a spectacular portrait of our rapidly changing world. With 7 billion people already on our planet we often look to the future with dread, but Rosling's message is surprisingly upbeat. Almost unnoticed we have actually begun to conquer the problems of rapid population growth and extreme poverty."
Suyash Raj Bhandari considers some of the ways in which the rapid expansion and adoption of mobile technology in Africa can act as a spur to growth and development on the continent. We link also to some useful background video resources on this issue.read more...»
In a recent assignment, A2 students were asked to write a 500 word profile on each of two development economists of their choice and to capture their key ideas and connect to one or more current issues in development. I will be adding some of their responses to the economics blog. Here Ben Evans focuses on the work of Amartya Senread more...»
Suyash Raj Bhandari profiles the Founder of the Grameen Bank, Mohammad Yunusread more...»
Economists like to talk about fallacies – arguments that fall apart when you look at them closely. One such fallacy is the ‘lump of labour’ delusion. If you assume there’s a fixed amount of work to be done, then if people retire later (or whatever) there must inevitably be less work for the younger workforce to do. It doesn’t add up, because the amount of work to be done isn’t fixed. More jobs in the economy and higher levels of productivity could easily create more employment and income.
In one light hearted example to illustrate this point, a French engineer and has American colleague are watching an interstate highway being built in the US. The Frenchman is alarmed by all the capital equipment and machinery used in the process. “Doesn’t that make workers unemployed?” asks the Frenchman. “In France we only use hand tools to preserve jobs”. The American is baffled. “If that were true, surely it would be better to equip the workforce with teaspoons”.read more...»
Here is an updated streamed presentation on overseas aid and economic development (updated October 2013)read more...»
Growth elasticity of poverty is a measure of elasticity (responsiveness) that calculates how much poverty falls for each percentage point in economic growth. According to a recent estimate from World Bank development economists Luc Christiaensen, Punam Chuhan-Pole and Aly Sanoh, that elasticity was about 2.0 in the developing world as a whole (excluding China) during the 2000s, but only 0.7 in Africa. In other words, the rapid growth achieved in many African countries over the last decade or more has not had as much impact on inequality as in other regions.read more...»
It was a pleasure to visit the LSE earlier on this week to hear a lecture from the distinguished economist Professor Angus Deaton from Princeton University in the United States. His new book "The great escape from inequality" is on my must-read list for the half term holiday and brings into focus over 250 years of changes in health and income inequalities across the world economy.
I will blog about his book a little later on but for now this Financial Times interview provides an introduction to some of the main themes of his book. Incidentally, Professor Deaton has strong views on the efficacy of foreign aid and this chapter of his book has provoked some strong responses from the pro-aid lobby active on twitter. Click below for the full video of his lecture at the LSE.read more...»
Does migration harm developing countries? Professor Paul Collier is interviewed by the Guardianread more...»
Almost one in five people worldwide paid bribes to education services last year, according to Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer. In the world’s poorest countries the number rises to one in three.
These shocking figures feature in their report into global education, and an excellent item on the BBC website highlights some of the key findings, with analysis of how they impact on potential for development. For example, in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia the corruption might take the form of requiring parents to pay a fee for a school place that should be free. In Eastern Europe, it might be paying to gain an advantage in university admissions.
"Leakages" in the funding of schools in Kenya had the equivalent value of losing more than 11 million text books, says the report. A study of 180 schools in Tanzania showed that more than a third of intended funds had failed to reach the school. The list of examples goes on, and the BBC item gives some analysis of the effect, raising the cost of education and lowering the quality of human capital.
Students learning about growth and development issues can often state that 'corruption' constrains development, but struggle to give clear evidence of exactly how it does so. Studying this report would really help them to give that evidence, and also to understand some of the difficulties faced by students in other countries.
Inequality has been rising for 30 years. The gap between rich and poor is the widest since the second world war. If current trends continue, we will have reached Victorian levels of inequality in 20 yearsread more...»
Here is an updated revision presentation on aspects of the natural resource trap or natural resource curse issue facing low (and also high) income countriesread more...»
Are the government’s economic policies fair?
Is that a testable, positive economic statement? You might be considering this question at the very start of an economics course, or you might be further on, and carefully considering issues surrounding inequality in the distribution of income and wealth.read more...»
A deeply troubling report is featured here in the Guardian. Qatar, one of the richest countries on the planet, will be hosting the World Cup in 2022. But much of the Gulf state's expansion is being built by some of the poorest migrant workers in the world. In the worst cases, employees are not being paid and work in conditions of forced labour. Thousands of workers from Nepal are trapped in jobs and wages very different to what they were promised.read more...»