27 July 2011

Misconceptions about working time in the EU27

The role of the 'market'
Mostly, the market  in the sense of the free bargaining between the individual worker and his individual employer do not freely establish the working time for workers in the EU27. On average, collective agreements set working time for 75% of workers in the EU27.

Working hours in different sectors
In 2010, workers in the manufacturing sector worked the longest weekly hours (37.6 hours in the metal working sector), followed by the public sector (37.5 in local governments) and workers in the service sectors came last (37.3 hours in the banking sector).

Working hours in different countries
The shortest actual working week was in Finland and the longest in Romania. Greece was in highest range with 40 hours a week and the UK was in the lowest range at 37.5 hours.

Source: EIRO
More information on these issues can be found here and here.

Statisticless homeless deaths in France

I just found this website which aims to record the deaths of homeless people in France. The numbers are by no mean exhaustive and concerns cases of death that result in one way or another from living on the streets. Of course, these statistics are notoriously hard to collect and variation in numbers accross years cannot be used to infer any sort of trends. Needless to say that given these difficulties, these numbers are almost certainly a gross under-estimation of the true underlying numbers. They have statistics for the past couple of years, which look like this:

239 in 2007
386 in 2008
405 in 2009
414 in 2010

They also have a dataset for the years 1998-2003 which records more than 1000 deaths together the name and age of the person (where available). Excluding the datapoints where the age is missing the distribution looks like this:

26 July 2011

The crisis: Deficits as the temporary fix in the tensions between legitimation and accumulation

Drawing on Claus Offe work (e.g.: contradictions of the welfare state, 1984) on the contradictions of state functions in stabilising the capitalist system, one can conceptualise the current crisis as the realisation of inherent contradictions. The state fulfils two key functions: one of legitimation and one of accumulation. 

In its legitimating role, the welfare state can compensate, insure and protect workers of vagaries of the market system. Hence, we have witnessed a dramatic expansion of welfare state spending under governments of both the right and the left in the past three decades. This makes the capitalist system legitimate.

In its accumulating role, one finds the traditional tools of Keynesian demand management, of providing public goods, and of expanding the welfare state so as to promote the moderation of wages. This fosters accumulation of the system (i.e.: rising profits).

24 July 2011

Mill on Conservatives

Taken from Brad Delong post on 'The Heritage Filter: Does America Have a Future in Which There Are Smart Conservatives?':

"John Stuart Mill famously wrote to John Pakington:

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

22 July 2011

What Crisis?

Those who follow the French media will be surprised to learn that Lilliane Bettencourt is not the wealthiest person in France, it is Bernard Arnault. 

With his 29 billion euros in 2011, the wealthiest European was worth 2.2 million years of the French minimum income (and it's fairly high in comparative terms), 9.8 million times the median wealth of an adult in the world, or 51 million times the annual poverty threshold. By contrast, annual spending on unemployment benefits in France was under 27 billion euros in 2006.

It's also interested to note that the combined wealth of this top 10 amounts to more than 160 billion euros, which puts the recent net contribution of the private sector to the most recent Greek bailout package into perspective...

This table was taken here

Statement of the Council of the European Union on Greece and related matters

The full declaration can be accessed in full here. The relevant stuff boils down to this:

'Could be worse':
"We agree to support a new programme for Greece and, together with the IMF and the voluntary contribution of the private sector, to fully cover the financing gap. The total official financing will amount to an estimated 109 billion euro."
"We have decided to lengthen the maturity of future EFSF loans to Greece to the maximum extent possible from the current 7.5 years to a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years with a grace period of 10 years."
"The financial sector has indicated its willingness to support Greece on a voluntary basis through a menu of options further strengthening overall sustainability. The net contribution of the private sector is estimated at 37 billion euro"

'Goes in the right':
"We agree that reliance on external credit ratings in the EU regulatory framework should be reduced, taking into account the Commission's recent proposals in that direction, and we look forward to the Commission proposals on credit ratings agencies."

'Not so good':
"Public deficits in all countries except those under a programme will be brought below 3% by 2013 at the latest."

EU27 labour market stabilising

This figure is taken from the recent report by EUROFOUND (page 1). The figure below shows where the adjustments are taking place... (page 8 of the same report). Not surprisingly, most job reductions now come from the public administration, followed by financial intermediation and manufacturing.

13 July 2011

The dependent variable problem in quantitative studies of Active Labour Market Programmes: Uncovering hidden dynamics?

My new working paper in the series on the Reconciliation of Work and Welfare in Europe can be accessed here.


The question of what explains variation in expenditures on Active Labour Market Programs (ALMPs) has attracted significant scholarship in recent years. Significant insights have been gained with respect to the role of employers, unions and dual labour markets, openness, and partisanship. However, there remain significant disagreements with respects to key explanatory variables such the role of unions or the impact of partisanship.

Qualitative studies have shown that there are both good conceptual reasons as well as historical evidence that different ALMPs are driven by different dynamics. There is little reason to believe that vastly different programs such as training and employment subsidies are driven by similar structural, interest group or indeed partisan dynamics. The question is therefore whether different ALMPs have the same correlation with different key explanatory variables identified in the literature? Using regression analysis, this paper shows that the explanatory variables identified by the literature have different relation to distinct ALMPs. This refinement adds significant analytical value and shows that disagreements are at least partly due to a dependent variable problem of „over-aggregation‟.

To read more, see the website of the  here.

06 July 2011

On Regulation and law

« Entre le fort et le faible, entre le riche et le pauvre, c’est la liberté qui opprime et la loi qui affranchit. » (Lacordaire) 
[Between the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, it is freedom that oppresses and law that frees]

When It Comes to Argentinas Economy, the NYT Redefines "Stagnant"

When It Comes to Argentinas Economy, the NYT Redefines "Stagnant"