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Capita Group
02 октября 2015, 17:16

T. Rowe Price International Stock Advisor Fund (PAITX) in Focus

T. Rowe Price International Stock Advisor Fund (PAITX) in Focus

17 августа 2015, 16:30

T. Rowe Price International Stock Fund (PRITX) in Focus

T. Rowe Price International Stock Fund (PRITX) in Focus

17 февраля 2014, 23:20

Atos may lose fit-for-work tests contract as ministers line up rival firms

Government seeking additional providers to offer further capacity and then take over contract, leaked DWP review saysThe government is preparing to oust Atos Healthcare from its £500m contract administering millions of fit-for-work tests for sick and disabled people, according to documents seen by the Guardian.A leaked Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) financial review says ministers across government are working together to build up competition to the multinational company by commissioning other private firms to add "further capacity" to the assessment system. The DWP will then enable "these providers to take over the whole contract" from Atos after the present agreement expires in 2015.Atos has become the lightning rod for widespread public and political anger over the health test, known as the work capability assessment. The test has been criticised by MPs and campaigners as crude and inhumane, amid mounting evidence that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people have been wrongly judged to be fit for work and ineligible for government support.Ministers have been in private discussions with the company since the summer over the quality of its operation. Last week the disability minister Mike Penning told MPs that Atos's work had caused "real concern" because too many people appeal against their decisions.Penning also said the current contract setup, with a single company holding a monopoly on the contract, was "flawed". He was responding to the Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, who said complaints from his constituents about the work capability tests had reached a "head of steam"."I'm not just getting constituents …coming to me but actually I'm getting them saying the DWP themselves are saying 'go and complain to your MP'. Surely at that point we have to ask if the system is working in the appropriate way? We are talking about some of the most vulnerable people after all," Williams said.Labour introduced the work capability assessment in 2008 to stem the rise in new incapacity benefit claims, and the coalition rapidly expanded the scheme in 2010 to reassess all 1.5 million people on sickness benefits, despite a warning from the government adviser Malcolm Harrington that the tests should be improved before being rolled out.Last year the work and pensions select committee said the government's handling of the assessment was "damaging public confidence" and causing claimants "considerable distress". The committee said the problems with the computer-led, points-based assessment "lay firmly with the DWP", but added that the department was failing to apply "sufficient rigour or challenge to Atos".More than 600,000 appeals have been lodged against Atos judgments since the work capability assessments began, costing the taxpayer £60m a year. In four out of 10 cases the original decisions are overturned.High-profile cases include people who reportedly have been found fit to work despite having debilitating terminal cancer, and instances of people who have been pursued for examinations while they have been lying in a coma.Private providers likely to be in the frame for the next contract – the current one is worth £115m a year – include G4S, Serco, A4E and Capita Group, who are all listed on the government's existing "framework" group of preferred bidders for outsourced welfare work.Marked "restricted", the 80-page DWP efficiency review says: "The department is working with Her Majesty's Treasury and Cabinet office colleagues to seek additional [health assessment] providers to offer further capacity in the short-term and for these providers to then take over the whole contract."It goes on to say that civil servants are "involved in ongoing discussions with Atos Healthcare regarding the quality of the service delivered".An Atos spokeswoman described the contract as "outdated", saying that in its current form it wasn't working for "claimants, for the DWP or for Atos Healthcare".She said: "The department has made it clear that it is considering bringing additional providers on board. We recognise that many people have strong feelings about work capability assessments. The constant flow of criticism inevitably has an impact on our staff who diligently endeavour to carry out assessments as laid out in DWP guidelines. We are committed to working with the department to help them meet their needs and the needs of claimants."The admission that the government is planning to oust Atos would appear to be a contravention of public competition and tendering rules – a quasi-judicial process in which government bodies cannot favour one company over another before contract bids are entered.One expert in competition law at a London firm specialising in commissioning practices said public procurement required contracts to be awarded on a fair and non-discriminatory basis. The legal expert who did not want to be named, said: "In short, if you have decided up front that you're going to exclude so-and-so, that's likely to be unlawful."Last month the Atos boss Joe Hemming told a Commons committee that the company was proud of its work. "We have a real passion for delivering services to the citizen in a way that continues to satisfy the way the citizen wants to be served," he said. The Labour MP Paul Flynn accused Hemming of suffering from a "reality problem".A DWP spokesperson said the department did not comment on leaked documents, but told the Guardian there was no breach of public procurement rules."In July we announced Atos had been instructed to enact a quality improvement plan to remedy the unacceptable reduction in quality identified in the written reports provided to the department," the spokesperson said. "We also announced in the summer we will be bringing in additional provision to deliver work capability assessments with the aim of increasing delivery capacity and reducing waiting times."They added that a forthcoming "invitation to tender" would set out that "the quality of assessments and service delivery is central" to the system.BenefitsAtosWelfareShiv MalikPatrick Butler theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

17 сентября 2013, 19:57

Tupy: Wealth Saves Lives, by David Henderson

Over at Cato at Liberty, Marian L. Tupy reports the good news on worldwide child mortality. He quotes a UN report: In 2012, approximately 6.6 million children worldwide--18,000 children per day--died before reaching their fifth birthday, according to a new report released today by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Group and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division. This is roughly half the number of under-fives who died in 1990, when more than 12 million children died. Some commentators have credited "global action." Well, yes, if by global action you mean that per capita income in economies around the globe has expanded substantially. Tupy gives some interesting data, taken from Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development: 4.9 billion people--the considerable majority of the planet--[live] ... in countries where GDP has increased more than fivefold over 50 years. Those countries include India, with an economy nearly 10 times larger than it was in 1960, Indonesia (13 times), China (17 times), and Thailand (22 times larger than in 1960). Around 5.1 billion people live in countries where we know incomes have more than doubled since 1960, and 4.1 billion--well more than half the planet--live in countries where average incomes have tripled or more....  One striking fact in the Kenny report above: Looking at absolute GDP, no country anywhere in the world for which we have data is smaller today than it was in 1960. The countries that saw the size of their economies less than double since 1960 contain just 80 million people--a little more than 1 percent of the planet's population. (3 COMMENTS)

Выбор редакции
09 июля 2013, 23:51

G4S faces damages claim over killing of Jimmy Mubenga

CPS says it will now reconsider whether to bring criminal charges as family hail inquest verdict of unlawful death on planeThe family of an Angolan man who died after being restrained by three G4S guards has launched civil proceedings against the security services multinational after an inquest jury found that he had been unlawfully killed on a plane intended to deport him.Jimmy Mubenga, 46, was judged by a majority verdict on Tuesday to have been killed in October 2010 on board an aeroplane at Heathrow airport that was bound for Angola, after he was forcibly restrained for more than half an hour by three guards from the private security firm: Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler.The circumstances surrounding Mubenga's death were made public in a Guardian investigation shortly after his death. A subsequent investigation by the paper into forced removals exposed wide concerns among guards about the restraining techniques used during deportations.Returning the verdict after four days of deliberations, the jury foreman at Isleworth crown court said: "Based on the evidence we have heard, we find that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down by one or more of the guards, causing his breathing to be impeded. We find that they were using unreasonable force and acting in an unlawful manner. The fact that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down, or a combination of the two, was a significant, that is more than minimal, cause of death."He added: "The guards, we believe, would have known that they would have caused Mr Mubenga harm in their actions, if not serious harm."Their nine-to-one decision may have a big impact on the way forced removals are carried out in the UK. On Tuesday the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also said in response to the verdict that it would reconsider its original decision not to bring criminal charges.The court heard that several passengers on the plane heard Mubenga calling out for help as he was being restrained. Some said they saw him shouting that he could not breathe, others that he was crying out "they're going to kill me" before his voice became weaker and he eventually went quiet.Outside court, Mark Scott, solicitor for the family, called for an urgent meeting with the CPS and said the family had already filed a civil claim against G4S in the high court. "The evidence has clearly come out that the guards used unreasonable and dangerous force and so the family will be pursuing this."Mubenga's wife, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, said her late husband had been treated "worse than an animal" on BA flight 77. "What the witnesses said is that they heard Jimmy asking for help – a lot of them – and nobody helped him. That is the big question why … if someone had helped him, he would still be here today."Kambana said the inquest verdict was a huge relief for her and her family. "I feel like Jimmy can rest in peace now – everything was behind closed doors before, but now it has come out," she said.The inquest was told that as the plane began to taxi on to the runway the guards said Mubenga became tired and stopped shouting. They said they realised something was wrong and the plane returned to the stand and paramedics were called. Mubenga was pronounced dead a short time later.In evidence, the guards claimed they had not heard Mubenga saying he could not breathe and insisted he had been resting his head on the seat in front and intermittently forcing it down towards his knees as he was being restrained – a position known to carry a risk of death by asphyxia.But counsel for Mubenga's family, Henry Blaxland QC, suggested to Hughes that the guards had been trying to "teach Mubenga a lesson". He said the three guards had been pushing Mubenga's head down in an attempt to keep him quiet and had only "come up with" the story that Mubenga was forcing his own head down to explain what passengers saw.The three guards were subsequently arrested "on suspicion of criminal offences" relating to Mubenga's death, but last year – 21 months after his death – the CPS decided not to press charges and no further action was taken. On Tuesday a CPS spokesman said: "Following this verdict, we will consider our original decision in light of any new evidence or information from the inquest, including any conclusions reached by the jury."A G4S spokesman said Mubenga's death was "deeply felt" by the company. He added: "The welfare of those in our care is always our top priority and we take great care to ensure our employees on this contract, which has been carried out by another provider since November 2011, were made aware of their responsibilities in this respect. Our employees were also trained, screened and vetted to the standards defined by strict Home Office guidelines."The spokesman said the company believed it had acted "appropriately and in full compliance with the terms of our contract with UKBA [UK Border Agency] and it should be noted that the Crown Prosecution Service found no basis on which to bring criminal charges against G4S in this case".G4S no longer has the contract to handle deportations from the UK and the company said that it was "not appropriate" to make any comment "on behalf of our former employees" – the three guards who were separately represented throughout these proceedings.During the hearing it emerged that two of the guards, Hughes and Tribelnig, had kept a string of racist "jokes" on their phone. Hughes's phone had 65 texts containing what the coroner, Karon Monaghan QC, said contained "very racially offensive material".The Home Office contract is now run by Tascor, part of the Capita group, and current guards who have spoken to the Guardian in the past few weeks say there is still inadequate training for new recruits. One who did not want to be named said a number of detainees had been punched and assaulted by guards on a recent charter flight to Lagos.A spokesman for Tascor said it could not comment on anonymous claims, but added it focused on "delivering a professional service to its clients while ensuring its methods of operations are compliant with the relevant statutory regulations".A Home Office spokesperson said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Mubenga's family. We are very clear that we expect the highest standards of integrity and behaviour from all of our contractors."'I was in so much pain': a deportee's storyMary, 41, a Ugandan asylum seeker, was assaulted and restrained in a similar way to Jimmy Mubenga during an enforced removal to her country. Her head was forced forward on to her thighs for three hours on an aeroplane. Her five children accompanied her on the flight and witnessed their mother's assault and restraint. Her 15-year-old daughter was also restrained by having her head forced on to her thighs.She and her children received one of the largest payouts of its kind – almost £200,000 – for the assault, which was carried out by Group 4 escorts. The company later became G4S.Mary had never before spoken publicly about the assault and restraint, and became distressed talking about it. The removal took place in 2006. After Group 4 returned her to Uganda, she said, secret police arrested and tortured her. She finally managed to escape back to the UK, where she was granted asylum.She recalled: "My youngest child was a baby at the time, and I held him in my arms. I didn't want to let go of him because he was crying and he needed breastfeeding, but one of the escorts pulled him away from me."They grabbed me and threw me to the floor. Another escort knelt on my head. They handcuffed my hands behind my back and put my children and I on the plane. They forced me on to a seat on the plane, still handcuffed, and forced my head down between my knees. The pain in my head and chest were excruciating and I was struggling to breathe."Mary said the escort told the other passengers on the flight not to worry about what was happening to us because we were all criminals. "This was not true. None of us had committed any crime. I had only given birth recently by caesarean and my scar had not healed. Having my head pushed forward on to my thighs was agony"They were beating me and hitting me in the ribs. They were just doing whatever they wanted to my body as if it was a piece of rubbish. I was in so much pain from the restraint I thought my chest was going to explode"After three hours of being handcuffed and restrained, a male passenger stood up and shouted at the escorts: 'Give her the damn baby.' After that they released me. I can only thank God that I survived. Jimmy Mubenga didn't." Diane TaylorJimmy MubengaCrimeG4SAngolaImmigration and asylumMatthew TaylorPaul Lewisguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds    

30 марта 2013, 23:53

Obamacare Faces Near-Solid Block In The South

ATLANTA — As more Republicans give in to President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, an opposition bloc remains across the South, including from governors who lead some of the nation's poorest and unhealthiest states. "Not in South Carolina," Gov. Nikki Haley declared at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. "We will not expand Medicaid on President Obama's watch. We will not expand Medicaid ever." Widening Medicaid insurance rolls, a joint federal-state program for low-income Americans, is an anchor of the law Obama signed in 2010. But states get to decide whether to take the deal, and from Virginia to Texas – a region encompassing the old Confederacy and Civil War border states – Florida's Rick Scott is the only Republican governor to endorse expansion, and he faces opposition from his GOP colleagues in the legislature. Tennessee's Bill Haslam, the Deep South's last governor to take a side, added his name to the opposition on Wednesday. Haley offers the common explanation, saying expansion will "bust our budgets." But the policy reality is more complicated. The hospital industry and other advocacy groups continue to tell GOP governors that expansion would be a good arrangement, and there are signs that some Republicans are trying to find ways to expand insurance coverage under the law. Haslam told Tennessee lawmakers that he'd rather use any new money to subsidize private insurance. That's actually the approach of another anchor of Obama's law: insurance exchanges where Americans can buy private policies with premium subsidies from taxpayers. Yet for now, governors' rejection of Medicaid expansion will leave large swaths of Americans without coverage because they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid as it exists but not enough to get the subsidies to buy insurance in the exchanges. Many public health studies show that the same population suffers from higher-than-average rates of obesity, smoking and diabetes – variables that yield bad health outcomes and expensive hospital care. "Many of the citizens who would benefit the most from this live in the reddest of states with the most intense opposition," said Drew Altman, president of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. So why are these states holding out? The short-term calculus seems heavily influenced by politics. Haley, Haslam, Nathan Deal of Georgia and Robert Bentley of Alabama face re-election next year. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is up for re-election in 2015. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is term-limited at home but may seek the presidency in 2016. While they all govern GOP-leaning states, they still must safeguard their support among Republican voters who dislike large-scale federal initiatives in general and distrust Obama in particular. Florida's Scott, the South's GOP exception on expansion, faces a different dynamic. He won just 49 percent of the vote in 2010 and must face an electorate that twice supported Obama. A South Carolina legislator put it bluntly earlier this year. State Rep. Kris Crawford told a business journal that he supports expansion, but said electoral math is the trump card. "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party," he said. Whit Ayers, a leading Republican pollster, was more measured, but offered the same bottom line. "This law remains toxic among Republican primary voters," he told The Associated Press. At the Tennessee Hospital Association, president Craig Becker has spent months trying to break through that barrier as he travels to civic and business groups across Tennessee. "It's really hard for some of them to separate something that has the name `Obamacare' on it from what's going to be best for the state," he said, explaining that personality driven politics are easier to understand than the complicated way that the U.S. pays for health care. Medicaid is financed mostly by Congress, though states have to put in their own money to qualify for the cash from Washington. The federal amount is determined by a state's per-capita income, with poorer states getting more help. On average in 2012, the feds paid 57 cents of every Medicaid dollar. It was 74 cents in Mississippi, 71 in Kentucky, 70 in Arkansas and South Carolina, 68 in Alabama. Those numbers would be even higher counting bonuses from Obama's 2009 stimulus bill. Obama's law mandated that states open Medicaid to everyone with household income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate – $15,420 a year for an individual or $31,812 for a family of four. The federal government would cover all costs of new Medicaid patients from 2014 to 2016 and pick up most of the price tag after that, requiring states to pay up to 10 percent. The existing Medicaid population would continue under the old formula. In its ruling on the law, the Supreme Court left the details alone, but declared that states could choose whether to expand. Hospital and physician lobbying groups around the country have endorsed a bigger Medicaid program. Becker said he explains on his road show that the Obama law paired Medicaid growth with cuts to payments to hospitals for treating the uninsured. Just as they do with Medicaid insurance, states already must contribute their own money in order to get federal help with those so-called "uncompensated care" payments. The idea was instead of paying hospitals directly, states and Congress could spend that money on Medicaid and have those new beneficiaries – who now drive costs with preventable hospital admissions and expensive emergency room visits – use the primary care system. But the Supreme Court ruling creates a scenario where hospitals can lose existing revenue with getting the replacement cash Congress intended, all while still having to treat the uninsured patients who can't get coverage. Becker said that explanation has gotten local chambers of commerce across Tennessee to endorse expansion. "These are rock-ribbed Republicans," he said. "But they all scratch their heads and say, `Well, if that's the case, then of course we do this.'" In Louisiana, Jindal's health care agency quietly released an analysis saying the changes could actually save money over time. But the Republican Governors Association chairman is steadfast in his opposition. In Georgia, Deal answers pressure from his state's hospital association with skepticism about projected "uncompensated care" savings and Congress' pledge to finance 90 percent of the new Medicaid costs. Altman, the Kaiser foundation leader, predicted that opposition will wane over time. Arkansas Republicans, who oppose Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's call for expansion, have floated the same idea as Haslam: pushing would-be Medicaid recipients into the insurance exchanges. Jindal, using his RGA post, has pushed the Obama administration to give states more "flexibility" in how to run Medicaid. Deal convinced Georgia lawmakers this year to let an appointed state board set a hospital industry tax to generate some of the state money that supports Medicaid. That fee – which 49 states use in some way – is the same tool that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is using to cover her state's Medicaid expansion. Georgia Democrats and some hospital executives have quietly mused that Deal is leaving himself an option to widen Medicaid in his expected term. "These guys are looking for ways to do this while still saying they are against `Obamacare,'" Altman said. "As time goes by, we'll see this law acquire a more bipartisan complexion." ----- Follow Barrow on Twitter (at)BillBarrowAP.

30 марта 2013, 23:53

Obamacare Faces Near-Solid Block In The South

ATLANTA — As more Republicans give in to President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, an opposition bloc remains across the South, including from governors who lead some of the nation's poorest and unhealthiest states. "Not in South Carolina," Gov. Nikki Haley declared at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. "We will not expand Medicaid on President Obama's watch. We will not expand Medicaid ever." Widening Medicaid insurance rolls, a joint federal-state program for low-income Americans, is an anchor of the law Obama signed in 2010. But states get to decide whether to take the deal, and from Virginia to Texas – a region encompassing the old Confederacy and Civil War border states – Florida's Rick Scott is the only Republican governor to endorse expansion, and he faces opposition from his GOP colleagues in the legislature. Tennessee's Bill Haslam, the Deep South's last governor to take a side, added his name to the opposition on Wednesday. Haley offers the common explanation, saying expansion will "bust our budgets." But the policy reality is more complicated. The hospital industry and other advocacy groups continue to tell GOP governors that expansion would be a good arrangement, and there are signs that some Republicans are trying to find ways to expand insurance coverage under the law. Haslam told Tennessee lawmakers that he'd rather use any new money to subsidize private insurance. That's actually the approach of another anchor of Obama's law: insurance exchanges where Americans can buy private policies with premium subsidies from taxpayers. Yet for now, governors' rejection of Medicaid expansion will leave large swaths of Americans without coverage because they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid as it exists but not enough to get the subsidies to buy insurance in the exchanges. Many public health studies show that the same population suffers from higher-than-average rates of obesity, smoking and diabetes – variables that yield bad health outcomes and expensive hospital care. "Many of the citizens who would benefit the most from this live in the reddest of states with the most intense opposition," said Drew Altman, president of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. So why are these states holding out? The short-term calculus seems heavily influenced by politics. Haley, Haslam, Nathan Deal of Georgia and Robert Bentley of Alabama face re-election next year. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is up for re-election in 2015. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is term-limited at home but may seek the presidency in 2016. While they all govern GOP-leaning states, they still must safeguard their support among Republican voters who dislike large-scale federal initiatives in general and distrust Obama in particular. Florida's Scott, the South's GOP exception on expansion, faces a different dynamic. He won just 49 percent of the vote in 2010 and must face an electorate that twice supported Obama. A South Carolina legislator put it bluntly earlier this year. State Rep. Kris Crawford told a business journal that he supports expansion, but said electoral math is the trump card. "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party," he said. Whit Ayers, a leading Republican pollster, was more measured, but offered the same bottom line. "This law remains toxic among Republican primary voters," he told The Associated Press. At the Tennessee Hospital Association, president Craig Becker has spent months trying to break through that barrier as he travels to civic and business groups across Tennessee. "It's really hard for some of them to separate something that has the name `Obamacare' on it from what's going to be best for the state," he said, explaining that personality driven politics are easier to understand than the complicated way that the U.S. pays for health care. Medicaid is financed mostly by Congress, though states have to put in their own money to qualify for the cash from Washington. The federal amount is determined by a state's per-capita income, with poorer states getting more help. On average in 2012, the feds paid 57 cents of every Medicaid dollar. It was 74 cents in Mississippi, 71 in Kentucky, 70 in Arkansas and South Carolina, 68 in Alabama. Those numbers would be even higher counting bonuses from Obama's 2009 stimulus bill. Obama's law mandated that states open Medicaid to everyone with household income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate – $15,420 a year for an individual or $31,812 for a family of four. The federal government would cover all costs of new Medicaid patients from 2014 to 2016 and pick up most of the price tag after that, requiring states to pay up to 10 percent. The existing Medicaid population would continue under the old formula. In its ruling on the law, the Supreme Court left the details alone, but declared that states could choose whether to expand. Hospital and physician lobbying groups around the country have endorsed a bigger Medicaid program. Becker said he explains on his road show that the Obama law paired Medicaid growth with cuts to payments to hospitals for treating the uninsured. Just as they do with Medicaid insurance, states already must contribute their own money in order to get federal help with those so-called "uncompensated care" payments. The idea was instead of paying hospitals directly, states and Congress could spend that money on Medicaid and have those new beneficiaries – who now drive costs with preventable hospital admissions and expensive emergency room visits – use the primary care system. But the Supreme Court ruling creates a scenario where hospitals can lose existing revenue with getting the replacement cash Congress intended, all while still having to treat the uninsured patients who can't get coverage. Becker said that explanation has gotten local chambers of commerce across Tennessee to endorse expansion. "These are rock-ribbed Republicans," he said. "But they all scratch their heads and say, `Well, if that's the case, then of course we do this.'" In Louisiana, Jindal's health care agency quietly released an analysis saying the changes could actually save money over time. But the Republican Governors Association chairman is steadfast in his opposition. In Georgia, Deal answers pressure from his state's hospital association with skepticism about projected "uncompensated care" savings and Congress' pledge to finance 90 percent of the new Medicaid costs. Altman, the Kaiser foundation leader, predicted that opposition will wane over time. Arkansas Republicans, who oppose Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's call for expansion, have floated the same idea as Haslam: pushing would-be Medicaid recipients into the insurance exchanges. Jindal, using his RGA post, has pushed the Obama administration to give states more "flexibility" in how to run Medicaid. Deal convinced Georgia lawmakers this year to let an appointed state board set a hospital industry tax to generate some of the state money that supports Medicaid. That fee – which 49 states use in some way – is the same tool that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is using to cover her state's Medicaid expansion. Georgia Democrats and some hospital executives have quietly mused that Deal is leaving himself an option to widen Medicaid in his expected term. "These guys are looking for ways to do this while still saying they are against `Obamacare,'" Altman said. "As time goes by, we'll see this law acquire a more bipartisan complexion." ----- Follow Barrow on Twitter (at)BillBarrowAP.

27 марта 2013, 17:07

Autocracy or democracy?

REAL income in East Asia grew sevenfold from 1950 to 2005. Democracy has grown within the region too, in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, Mongolia, and the Philippines. Japan and South Korea, the two Asian economies with the highest income levels and the most sophisticated technologies, are “full democracies” (see chart). India, today one of the world’s most important economies, has been mostly democratic since gaining independence in 1947.Does economic growth go hand-in-hand with democratic regimes? Not necessarily: correlation does not imply causation. One group of economists found growth induced democracy in East Asia; democracy did not lead to growth. They compared North and South Korea, which were both poor in 1950 and under dictatorial regimes from the end of the Korean War until 1980. From 1980, per capita incomes diverged. The same year South Korea began democratising. But South Korea’s better institutions developed due to dictators’ policy choices, they say.Others, including Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, attribute this type of growth to political decision-making. “Extractive institutions” sometimes develop as elites feel more secure and seek their own ends, they say. “Such growth takes place when elites find it in their interest to allow new technologies and institutional changes necessary for economic growth.”Paul Collier has controversially argued that authoritarianism can be good for growth. He would also say South Korean growth was successful due to its homogenous society. Its foreign immigrant population only reached 1m in 2007, and the majority are Chinese. In ethnically diverse societies only democracy can work for growth, says Mr Collier, because autocratic leaders with a narrow support base are otherwise tempted to siphon off national income. That explains why diverse India, with three major ethnic groups, four key religions, and 15 official languages, had no choice other than democracy-led growth.What makes ethnically diverse but autocratic China different, given it has enjoyed rapid growth for the past two decades? China is rather like several small and tightly controlled states spread over one giant landmass, says Mr Collier.Rapid growth is one thing. In 1980, India and China were both in relative autarky. By 2007, India’s GDP had almost doubled, but China’s increased seven-fold. India’s growth was primarily services led; China’s was industry based. China’s fast growth owed to state policy, Jeffrey Sachs and Messrs Acemoglu and Robinson agree.Whether autocracy-led growth is sustainable is another. South Korea’s economic freedoms, a consequence of dictators’ decisions, led to demand for political freedoms. China’s Politburo will likely face a similar challenge in future. Democratisation has not yet flourished since economic freedoms are themselves negligible: property rights are lacking.Asia’s most successful economies are a mix of flawed democracies and hybrid regimes. Most of these are moving towards, rather than away from, democratisation. In a study of 100 economies from 1960 to 1990, Robert Barro found that prosperity tends to inspire democracy. Could China be next, following South Korea’s path? Its new premier last week announced plans to crack down on corruption, describing this as a “self-imposed revolution” aimed at “curbing government power”. If that pledge is not genuine, China’s growth strategy may be doomed to failure in the long term—so, at least, reckon Messrs Acemoglu and Robinson.

26 марта 2013, 12:58

Does Emigration Put Spain’s Health and Pensions System At Risk?

According to the Economist’s Buttonwood, “desperate times require desperate measures”. I am sure this is right, times in Spain are certainly getting desperate and many of the measures being implemented in Brussels, far from representing radical and innovative solutions look much more like continually closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. The issue Buttonwood draws our attention to in the blog post which accompanies this statement is that of migration trends within the Euro Area and the impact these have on trend GDP growth and structural budget deficits in the various member countries. This is an important issue indeed, since such movements seem to be an unforeseen and largely unmeasured by-product of the current monetary and fiscal policy mix being pursued by the EU and the ECB, yet the consequences they have shape the long term future of the whole Eurozone, and with it the sustainability or otherwise of the component states. As I said in my last Spain post One of the less commented features of Spain’s boom during the early years of this century is the way the arrival of economic migrants fuelled a significant part of GDP growth. The country’s population grew by more than six million (from 40 to 46 million) in the first eight years of the century, raising employment levels in both the formal and the informal economies. Migrants are still arriving, but the balance has now turned negative. According to data from the National Statistics Office, as of last June the net outflow was 20,000 a month and accelerating. That is to say a quarter of a million a year, or a million every four years. And the final numbers will almost certainly be much larger.So a country which already doesn’t have enough people working to pay for its pension system now faces having less and less as time goes by, while the number of pensioners looking to claim will only grow and grow. In part that is the end result of sitting back and watching a 1.3-child-per-woman fertility rate for over 30 years. But to this grave underlying problem is now being added a new and potentially more deadly one. Those leaving are not only migrants who came earlier. Increasingly, young, educated, Spanish people are upping and leaving, and unlike in earlier periods many who go now will never return. Not only is there a massive human capital loss involved here, trend GDP growth is evidently being reduced as the workforce steadily shrinks, while all those unsellable surplus-to-requirement houses become even less sellable. The motivation for the Buttonwood post was a research report published at the end of last week by the European Financial Economist at Jefferies International, Marchel Alexandrovich. Ostensibly his concern is about optimal currency area theory as applied to the Eurozone, but underlying this concern is a further one: that Mario Draghi and his governing council at the ECB may not be living up to their promise. That is to say they may not be doing enough to hold the Euro together. The Outright Market Transactions (OMT) policy was intended to try to remove break-up risk in the capital markets. Despite the fact that the programme has not been made operational, it has worked reasonably well in that capital flight has been brought to a halt and even reversed, the bank deposit base in most countries on the periphery is now rising, and the break-up risk component in national bond spreads has been virtually removed. But as often happens in economic matters, solutions to one problem may inadvertently lead to the creation of another. Avoiding radical debt restructuring on the periphery, and going for a “slowly slowly” correction doesn’t necessarily mean that all other things remain equal. Take the labour market, for example (I have already touched on this whole topic in my recent post on Bulgaria). As Alexandrovich points out one of the pre-conditions for the existence of an optimal currency area is the existence of cross frontier labour mobility, and the workings of the  Eurozone have often been criticized on precisely these grounds. Buttonwood puts it like this: “A SINGLE market works best when its workers are mobile; Americans have shifted to the south and west over the years, for example, as jobs in the rust belt have disappeared. Europeans have the right to work anywhere in the EU and have been doing so for decades; a British series about Geordie builders in Germany (Auf Wiedersehen, Pet) appeared all the way back in 1983. But language barriers mean it is more difficult in practice for Europeans to move than for their American counterparts”. But now, suddenly, in the wake of the current crisis things are changing. While “the political process to evolve the euro area toward an optimal currency area is slow,” says Alexandrovich, “the migration data suggest that there are rapid changes made in terms of the labour mobility dimension”. The question is, is this good news? Obviously in one sense it is, if this is needed to make the Euro work it has to happen. But there is a downside, one which Alexandrovich points to: changes in the political process are lagging well behind developments in other areas, and especially in the migration one. It has been clear since the Euro debt crisis that a common treasury was a necessity for the good functioning of the currency union, yet progress in this direction has been painfully slow, and full of bitter recrimination. The migration problem might be just about to bring this simmering issue right to a head. As Alexandrovich points out, migration trends have recently reversed in some key Euro states. While Spain had rapidly growing population due to large scale immigration during the first decade of the century, migration into Germany was falling steadily, and at one point even went negative. Now all that has changed, people, on aggregate, are moving into Germany and moving out of Spain. In fact a similar situation exists in Portugal, Ireland and Greece (see my last piece on Portugal), while the UK, for example, has steadily been receiving economic migrants. These migration patterns affect working age population growth, and with this the rate of underlying potential GDP growth, the number of people paying taxes and social security contributions, the rate of new family formation and demand for new housing, etc etc. As Alexandrovich notes, movements in population momentum are an important economic indicator, and the degree of uncertainty about what individual national population dynamics  are is rising. One of the interesting details within the latest European Commission Winter economic forecasts for instance is the downward revision to Spanish population estimates, with the country’s population now expected to shrink in size by 0.2% in both 2013 and 2014 – the previous forecast from only a few months previously was a 0.1% annual fall (see table below). This may not seem particularly significant, but these are obviously just first estimates and as the economy goes through another tough year this years outcome could be much worse than expected with the drop potentially extending for years into the future. In fact the negative movement in Spain’s population is accelerating and no one really knows how far this acceleration will go, or how long it will continue. What we do know is that the likelihood of Spain’s unemployment rate falling below 20% by 2020 is small (it is currently over 26%), and with such high unemployment the pressure to move will continue to be strong. Now, if we look back over Spain’s “good” economic years, it is clear that even though growth between 1999 and 2006 was normally in the 3% to 4% range, most of this growth came from population increase, which was extraordinarily rapid, while productivity growth was miniscule, and even in the best of cases less than 1%. Spain’s population had been virtually stationary in the second half of the 1990s, and the subsequent rise was almost entirely due to immigration, the overwhelming majority of which was of working age population, as can be seen in the chart below from the Spanish national statistics office. Now why, if this was the case you might ask, did Spaniards feel so much better off during these years, since GDP growth per capita, and especially per working age person was not exactly stellar. Well, the next chart tells us why. Basically Spain as a country was getting into debt, by borrowing abroad through the European interbank market, and consuming a lot of products which were produced elsewhere. Naturally, with house prices going up each year, homeowners felt increasingly well off. Now, of course, house prices are going down each year, and exports are being increased to help pay down all the accumulated debt. So we getting the “continually feeling worse” effect. Not unsurprisingly, IMF growth forecasts for Spain are being steadily revised downwards to reflect the new reality. And naturally if the current working age population dynamics continue they will be revised down further and further. This is what makes listening to that continuing string of speeches from Spanish politicians just so tiresome. They continually talk about recovery being just around the corner, but in reality they have no idea what recovery will mean in Spain, or even of what they are talking about. And there’s yet another nasty twist here. Spain’s employment legislation effectively protects older workers at the expense of younger ones. That is why while the overall unemployment rate is 26% the rate for 15 to 24 year olds is 55%. This “older worker bias” also has implications for productivity, as a recent report by Deutsche Bank’s Gilles Moec indicates: “The dualism of the labour market in many European countries means that, on average, workers under the age of 25, since the beginning of the crisis, have contributed 4 times as much to the contraction in employment as their actual share in total employment (see Focus Europe 9 November 2012). Young workers often are the vehicle of innovation in companies and any labour market adjustment which is skewed towards young workers will ultimately reduce aggregate productivity. Using data collected at the firm level in Belgium (which in our view is a good proxy for the Euro area in general), Lallemand and Rycx estimated the impact of a change in the age structure of staff on productivity, by adding to a canonical model of productivity based on firms’ characteristics (such as sectoral specialization and educational attainment of workforce) the share of three age groups (below 30, 30 to 49, above 50) in firms’ workforce, as explanatory variables. To provide an illustrative order of magnitude of the negative impact of the recent change in the age structure of companies on aggregate labour productivity in the peripherals, we applied the coefficients estimated by Lallemand and Rycx on the actual changes observed in Spain and Italy between 2007 and 2012 (see Figure 1). This effect is actually quite sizeable, with an adverse shock on the level of aggregate productivity of around 2% in both countries”. So really the whole current situation is most lamentable, since Spain’s ongoing loss of young talent means that the country may well be losing growth potential just as fast as the implementation of structural reforms is recovering it. But, to go back to the start, and Buttonwood’s point that “desperate times require desperate measures,” these are just what Marchel Alexandrovich at Jefferies is calling for, serious and substantial political measures to shore up the Euro fiscal system, to enable people to move without making the instability in health and pensions systems, and the difficulty of carrying through national level fiscal adjustments, even worse. Spain’s pension system shortfall added at least 1% to the 2012 deficit, and the situation is only deteriorating as fewer people contribute to the social security system with each passing month  while ever more people retire and claim benefits. Alexandrovich is not, however, as Buttonwood appears to suggest, advocating “a fiscal union where tax revenues is distributed to the smaller countries to allow people to stay put”. This is what happened to the Spanish system of inter-regional solidarity following the 1970s transition  and has now become part of the problem in Spain’s labour market. No, he is arguing for automatic health and pension fund stabilisers to be put in place, so that workers can move freely around without worrying about the implications for their parents or grandparents back home. Otherwise we really will have winners and losers coming out of this crisis, with some countries shoring themselves up, while others are (unknowingly) melting themselves down. But first, we need to take more determined steps to really measure what is happening. At the moment our knowledge about these flows and their implications is woefully limited. As the European President of the Migration Policy Institute Demetrios Papademetriou put it recently: “The current knowledge base on the economic and social impacts of free movement is slim — in part because its evolving, flexible nature is difficult to capture in official data sources — but it must be improved, to afford a greater understanding of the effects on communities, local workers, and the public purse.” In conclusion, I leave the last word to Mr Alexandrovich: “And so we have gone full circle back to the idea of an optimal currency area. The way that a banking union tries to mitigate the effects of a potential bank run, similarly one could help mitigate the effect of Spanish or Greek workers going to work in Germany by having a union where tax revenues get redistributed between the various countries. Otherwise, debt needs to be serviced by fewer taxpayers which then need to be squeezed even harder to keep the whole thing ticking over. So on various levels arguably the euro project remains incomplete and migration data simply help shine a light on some of its further shortcomings, where some countries get isolated and left even further behind”. Postscript I have established a dedicated Facebook page to campaign for the EU to take this issue more seriously, in particular by insisting member states measure the problem more adequately and having Eurostat incorporate population migrations as an indicator in the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure Scoreboard in just the same way current account balances are. If you agree with me that this is a significant problem that needs to be given more importance then please take the time to click “like” on the page. I realize it is a tiny initiative in the face of what could become a huge problem, but sometime great things from little seeds to grow. This is a revised version of an article which originally appeared on the Iberosphere website.

25 марта 2013, 20:39

Otaviano Canuto: Trade: The World Is Not Flat Yet

Thomas Friedman's bestseller The World Is Flat highlights the strong forces pushing the world towards a single economic platform. The technology-fueled globalization in the provision of services, and the widespread organization of production processes as global value chains are part of his narrative. The revolutionary potential of services comes out neatly from the persuasive story told in the book. Yet Friedman himself remarks that the world is not there yet. Indeed, "the world ain't flat" is how Jean-François Arvis, Yann Duval, Ben Shepherd, and Chortip Utoktham begin a recent VoxEU column on trade costs in the developing world. Drivers of Brazilian trucks loaded with soybeans and currently jammed on the road to the Port of Paranagua, as well as hotel owners in Cape Verde complaining about the dire conditions of air transportation to that beautiful part of the world, would certainly agree with that. It's true that information and communication technologies, combined with rising educational levels in parts of the developing world, have spurred the cross-border production of intangible services, while innovations like containerized shipping have reduced transportation costs for physical goods -- see here -- but trade remains hampered by remaining costly-to-cross hills and canyons. Arvis et al. note that geographical distance, language, and contiguity of borders comprise just part of the trade cost factors, along with the tariffs and non-tariff measures. However, the costs from tariffs in particular have relatively fallen in recent decades. In many countries and sectors, barriers in terms of logistics performance, trade facilitation bottlenecks, and international physical connectivity have become relatively higher. In another recent VoxEU piece, Bernard Hoekman and Selina Jackson note that "improving border management, transport and communications infrastructure services could increase global GDP by up to six times more than removing all import tariffs." Logistics performance -- costs, delays, and reliability in handling the delivery of goods -- depend on investments in both hardware and "software." In other words, one needs to invest not only in equipment and construction, but also in the acquisition of managerial capabilities. The same applies to international connectivity through regular maritime, air, or terrestrial services. Trade bottlenecks, in turn, stem from border controls and other aspects of the transit system. They all depend substantially on the public policies and rules classified as non-tariff barriers, which raise the cost of cross-border trade. The World Bank and UNESCAP have implemented a joint data-collection exercise of trade cost measurement over the period of 1995-2010. Strikingly, costs have fallen for all groups of countries but more slowly in low-income countries, and remain inversely related to levels of per capita income (see Chart). This is unfortunate as it means that many developing countries have missed opportunities to participate in the rise of networked production through global and regional value chains, since those chains obviously require a "flattening" of trade transaction costs. For instance, in the latest Economic Premise -- Global Connectivity and Export Performance -- Jean-François Arvis and Ben Shepherd show how positively air transport connectivity correlates with a country's trade in global value chains. Such findings reinforce our lemma that facilitating trade is facilitating development. Dealing with this agenda is complicated, but it is doable, as outlined by Hoekman and Jackson. The pay-off for developing countries has risen substantially through improving policies and regulations regarding trade costs, and corresponding infrastructure investments. A multilateral effort in that direction would also be extremely welcome. Note: the chart shows average trade costs for manufactured goods with respect to the 10 largest importing countries, by World Bank income groups, 1996-2009, 1996=100. Source: Arvis et al. Follow the latest from Otaviano Canuto at twitter.com/OCanuto and keep up with the World Bank's efforts to help countries to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity at twitter.com/WBPoverty. For more Economic Premise notes, go to worldbank.org/economicpremise.

19 марта 2013, 14:11

Barnet 'easyCouncil' privatisation challenged in high court

Disabled resident fights against London borough's £320m deal, saying it leads her to fear for her lifeThe "easyCouncil" model of no-frills local services is facing a high court challenge, with residents of the London borough of Barnet, including the disabled resident Maria Nash who is bringing the action, calling for a £320m privatisation deal to be scrapped.The judicial review will examine one of the most radical and controversial attempts by an English council to respond to deep Whitehall cuts, a project which Tory-controlled Barnet has labelled "One Barnet". Nash, 67, a former holistic therapist who relies on publicly funded care assistants, has said she fears for her life if responsibility for her support is transferred from the council to the private firm Capita in April. The judicial review of the legality of the contract means the signing of the deal, which was supposed to happen at the end of January, has been delayed.Protesters from the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts and the local Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) are expected to demonstrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London on Tuesday morning.Tirza Waisel, the co-ordinator of BAPS, said: "Maria is a disabled person and is right to be worried about what will happen to her in future. If One Barnet fails, a scheme that was set up ostensibly to save money will end up costing more, and mean further cuts in services beyond the point where Barnet residents can live a decent life."Like many councils, Barnet has been exploring radical measures to reduce its budget by 10% as a result of declining council tax revenue and a smaller grant from Whitehall.Nash's case is that neither the Capita contract, nor a further planned £290m deal to outsource planning, cemeteries, highways, environmental health and other services, are legal because the council has failed to consult on the decisions, has failed to meet its public sector equality obligations and based its decisions on "grossly inadequate assessments of the relative merits and risks involved".Barnet is understood to be confident its policy will survive intact and Dan Thomas, council member with responsibility for resources, has said the new support and customer service organisation contract will save the taxpayer £1m a month.Local governmentSocial careLocal politicsDisabilityRobert Boothguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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18 марта 2013, 19:07

Contra the Crowd-Out Thesis: Countries that Spent More on Seniors Also Spend More on Children

In a recent WaPo op-ed with the subtle title “Payments to Elders are Harming Our Future,” Harry Holzer and Isabel Sawhill claim that “our very expensive retirement programs already crowd out public spending on virtually all other priorities—including programs for the poor and those that strengthen the nation’s future—and will do so at even higher rates in the next decade and beyond unless we reform these large programs.” If this crowd-out thesis were true, we would expect to find that nations that spend more on the elderly spend less on children. But this isn’t the case. Although a bit dated, the chart below, produced by researchers Jonathan Bradshaw and Emese Mayhew, plots expenditures on family benefits and services (per capita child) by expenditures on benefits and services for the elderly (per capita elderly). The chart shows that counties that spend more per capita on the elderly also spend more per capita on children. Moreover, contrary to Holzer/Sawhill’s claim that we have “very expensive retirement programs”, U.S. expenditures on the elderly are moderate in cross-national terms. Bradshaw and Mayhew conclude: "we have found that if there is generational inequity it does not stem from demography alone. Nations make choices about the level of resources they commit to children and the elderly, and the countries that are most generous to children also tend to be most generous to the elderly." Similarly, in his important book Rich Democracies, Poor People: How Politics Explains Poverty, sociologist David Brady examines the relationship between child poverty and elderly poverty in 18 OECD nations and concludes: One broad finding deserves to be emphasized here: there is no trade-off between elderly and child poverty. The evidence clearly shows that child and elderly poverty generally move in concert with each other and with a county’s overall poverty. Egalitarian counties with low overall poverty tend to have low child and low elderly poverty. These results flatly contradict [the crowd-out thesis]. Counties do no accomplish lower elderly poverty at the expense of higher child poverty, and child poverty does not worsen because of the pursuit of lower elderly poverty. The overriding pattern is a coherence among child, elderly, and overall poverty. This should not be news to Sawhill and Holzer. In an interesting 2009 paper, Julia Isaacs, a researcher who works in the same shop as Sawhill at Brookings and who has also called for cutting Social Security and Medicare, acknowledges how little cross-national evidence there is for the crowd-out thesis. Here’s her summary of the evidence: Several cross-national studies find that cash and near-cash benefits for children in the United States are quite low compared to most other rich nations. However, the picture changes radically when education and health expenditures are brought into the equation. The United States emerges as a country with higher than average child spending under a broad definition of public spending on children. Regarding spending on the elderly, the United States has a particularly strong age bias in pubic expenditures, although all OECD countries spend more, per capita, on cash benefits for the elderly than on cash benefits for families and children. Interestingly, cross-national research finds little evidence to support [the crowd-out] concern that spending on children will decline in face of increases in elderly populations and expenditures on the elderly. On the contrary, per capita expenditures on children and families increased during the latter part of the twentieth century in the United States and abroad. It is not clear whether this trend will continue or whether growing expenditures on the elderly will crowd out spending on children in the future. [italics are mine]. We certainly should do much more to provide economic security equal opportunity to children in the United States. But framing policy choices in “generational theft” terms and echoing plutocrats’ calls for cuts to benefits for working- and middle-class seniors will not produce the politics we need to achieve that goal. As Henry Aaron of Brookings puts it, in a commentary on Isaacs’ work that is worth reading in full: Pitting the interests of the elderly and disabled against those of children is politically short-sighted because advocates of public outlays for children and for the elderly have been—and should remain—allies against those who believe that the role of government should be limited to providing for defense and public safety, and little else. Advocates of a restricted role for government remain a sizable and influential group in American politics. In a nation of two-party politics, progress is based on building and sustaining coalitions. If those who share the view that government should intervene actively to promote social welfare—for children, the disabled and poor, and the elderly—engage in fratricide, each of those groups will suffer. The funny thing about kids is that their current and future living standards mostly depend on the living standards of their parents (and grandparents and other family members can matter a lot too). With this in mind, advocates with the best interests of children at heart need to focus on the real problem: policies that have redistributed the gains from economic growth upward over the last three decades, and away from middle- and working-class people, including parents and their children. If we really want working-class kids to get a better deal, we need to get serious about giving their parents a fairer one than they’ve been getting over the last three decades.

09 марта 2013, 21:58

Dems Face Heat From Voters On Guns

HELENA, Mont. — U.S. Sen. Max Baucus has been here before. Back during the Clinton era, the Democrat faced a choice: support an assault weapons ban urged by a president from his own party and risk angering constituents who cherish their gun rights, or buck his party. He chose the ban, and nearly lost his Senate seat. Now, as he begins his campaign for a seventh term, Baucus faces the question again. For weeks, gun foes have sought assurances he would oppose the assault weapons ban. But it was only this past week he said he would oppose it. That decision alone doesn't settle the issue for his re-election campaign. His opponents are watching closely, eager to pounce as he navigates a series of other gun control proposals, including an expected call for universal background checks. Baucus' predicament is one that a group of Democrats like him in the West and South are facing. They hail from predominantly rural regions of the country where the Second Amendment is cherished and where Republicans routinely win in presidential elections. From Montana to Louisiana, these anxious voters have made at least six Democratic senators a little uneasy heading into next year's election season. Both sides are aware that gun-owners' rights are taking shape as a campaign issue that could shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. "Make no mistake – it is a very delicate dance for rural state Democrats," said Barrett Kaiser, a Democratic political consultant. "I would be stunned if the Montana congressional delegation said anything but `hell no' to gun control measures," he added. Part of the concern comes from a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity clips. The plan is a response to calls for new gun restrictions from President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school. Gun control is a top-agenda item for many Democrats, and they'll need all the votes they can to push changes. Baucus knows, though, that a gun control vote "opens the door for whoever challenges him, because Montanans do not want the federal government restricting guns. That is clear as day," said Republican state Rep. Scott Reichner, who was Mitt Romney's campaign chairman in Montana. "It would be a monumental mistake on his part" to support federal gun control legislation, Reichner said. Gun rights carry sway in Montana. The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says Montana "boasts more hunters per capita than any other state in the nation." State lawmakers have been discussing measures to expand gun rights. And a pro-gun group, the Montana Shooting Sports Association, has set up a website that is updated with Baucus' public statements on gun policy. Other Democratic senators that Republicans are watching closely include Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Democrats control the Senate, but if Republicans pick off these seats they could take the chamber. Pryor already has said he won't support an assault weapons ban, and the measure is unlikely to clear the Senate. Gun activists still worry that other restrictions they oppose are in the works. "I don't think the assault rifle ban, the semi-auto ban, has been the real objective," said Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. "I think that is where the rubber meets the road, federal gun registration." The gun rights crowd considers mandatory registration as an unconstitutional overreach of federal authority and the close attention paid to all discussions on the topic show how carefully Baucus and others must tread. Baucus would appear to be a shoo-in for re-election. He's the third most senior U.S. senator and the chairman of the Finance Committee, which lets him prioritize many Montana projects. He's also a consummate dealmaker who routinely collects endorsements from Republican-allied groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And he's worked hard over the years to become the only Senate Democrat with an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. But one wrong gun vote could energize his opposition. Though Baucus specifically rejected the assault rifle ban, he stopped short of mentioning expanded background checks by name. Baucus indicated he prefers the focus was elsewhere. "Instead of focusing on new laws, Max believes the first step should be effectively enforcing the laws already on the books," Baucus spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue said Thursday. The entire debate represents a potential replay of the most difficult fight of his career, when Baucus voted for the 1993 Brady Bill that established background checks and the original 1994 ban on assault rifles and high-capacity clips. Those votes led to the closest election in four decades of politics for Baucus, a narrow victory in a bitter campaign against Republican Denny Rehberg. The other Democratic senators in rural states could find themselves in similar fights and have been cagey over the issue. Most have taken a wait-and-see approach. The NRA last month launched an advertising campaign aimed squarely at this group, sending a strong message. The organization did not return a call seeking comment. Democratic political operatives say the NRA could be overplaying its hand this time, arguing some sportsmen may be willing to listen to moderate proposals. Still, Baucus and his colleagues aren't likely to take risks and by next year's election, he and others could seek to turn the issue to their advantage by using a pro-gun stance to appeal to conservative and libertarian-minded voters. "Why wouldn't he want to talk about guns?" said Montana State University political scientist David Parker. "Sen. Baucus is as about as middle of the road as they get in the United States Senate. What he doesn't want to do is have himself painted as a national Democrat or as an Obama Democrat."

09 марта 2013, 21:58

Dems Face Heat From Voters On Guns

HELENA, Mont. -- U.S. Sen. Max Baucus has been here before. Back during the Clinton era, the Democrat faced a choice: support an assault weapons ban urged by a president from his own party and risk angering constituents who cherish their gun rights, or buck his party. He chose the ban, and nearly lost his Senate seat. Now, as he begins his campaign for a seventh term, Baucus is facing a similar dilemma. For weeks, he has refused to clearly say which way he'd vote on an assault weapons ban. When pressed by The Associated Press, he said through a spokeswoman Thursday that he'd oppose it. But that decision alone doesn't settle the issue for his re-election campaign. His opponents are watching closely, eager to pounce as he navigates a series of other gun control proposals, including an expected call for universal background checks. Baucus' predicament is one that a group of Democrats like him in the West and South are facing. They hail from predominantly rural regions of the country where the Second Amendment is cherished and where Republicans routinely win in presidential elections. From Montana to Louisiana, these anxious voters have made at least six Democratic senators a little uneasy heading into next year's election season. Both sides are aware that gun-owners' rights are taking shape as a campaign issue that could shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. "Make no mistake – it is a very delicate dance for rural state Democrats," said Barrett Kaiser, a Democratic political consultant. "I would be stunned if the Montana congressional delegation said anything but `hell no' to gun control measures," he added. Part of the concern comes from a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity clips. The plan is a response to calls for new gun restrictions from President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school. Gun control is a top-agenda item for many Democrats, and they'll need all the votes they can to push changes. Baucus knows, though, that a gun control vote "opens the door for whoever challenges him, because Montanans do not want the federal government restricting guns. That is clear as day," said Republican state Rep. Scott Reichner, who was Mitt Romney's campaign chairman in Montana. "It would be a monumental mistake on his part" to support federal gun control legislation, said Republican state Rep. Scott Reichner. Gun rights carry sway in Montana. The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says Montana "boasts more hunters per capita than any other state in the nation." State lawmakers have been discussing measures to expand gun rights. And a pro-gun group, the Montana Shooting Sports Association, has set up a website that is updated with Baucus' public statements on gun policy. Other Democratic senators that Republicans are watching closely include Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Democrats control the Senate, but if Republicans pick off these seats they could take the chamber. Pryor already has said he won't support an assault weapons ban, and the measure is unlikely to clear the Senate. Gun activists still worry that other restrictions they oppose are in the works. "I don't think the assault rifle ban, the semi-auto ban, has been the real objective," said Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. "I think that is where the rubber meets the road, federal gun registration." The gun rights crowd considers mandatory registration as an unconstitutional overreach of federal authority and the close attention paid to all discussions on the topic show how carefully Baucus and others must tread. Baucus would appear to be a shoo-in for re-election. He's the third most senior U.S. senator, chairman of finance committee that lets him prioritize many Montana projects and a consummate dealmaker who routinely collects endorsements from Republican-allied groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But one wrong gun vote could energize his opposition. Though Baucus specifically rejected the assault rifle ban, he stopped short of mentioning expanded background checks by name. Baucus indicated he prefers the focus was elsewhere. "Instead of focusing on new laws, Max believes the first step should be effectively enforcing the laws already on the books," Baucus spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue said Thursday. The entire debate represents a potential replay of the most difficult fight of his career, when Baucus voted for the 1993 Brady Bill that established background checks and the original 1994 ban on assault rifles and high-capacity clips. Those votes led to the closest election in four decades of politics for Baucus, a narrow victory in a bitter campaign against Republican Denny Rehberg. The other Democratic senators in rural states could find themselves in similar fights and have been cagey over the issue. Most have taken a wait-and-see approach. The NRA last month launched an advertising campaign aimed squarely at this group, sending a strong message. The organization did not return a call seeking comment. Democratic political operatives say the NRA could be overplaying its hand this time, arguing some sportsmen may be willing to listen to moderate proposals. Still, Baucus and his colleagues aren't likely to take risks and by next year's election, he and others could seek to turn the issue to their advantage by using a pro-gun stance to appeal to conservative and libertarian-minded voters. "Why wouldn't he want to talk about guns?" said Montana State University political scientist David Parker. "Sen. Baucus is as about as middle of the road as they get in the United States Senate. What he doesn't want to do is have himself painted as a national Democrat or as an Obama Democrat."

06 марта 2013, 17:56

Scottish finance figures spark row over North Sea oil and independence

SNP claims oil revenues would have made Scotland better off than rest of UK last year but opponents disagree with analysisThe Scottish independence movement has seized on new figures showing that Scotland's public finances were stronger than the UK's after a bumper year for North Sea oil income.John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary, said the annual Scottish public spending report showed that with a full geographic share of North Sea revenues in 2011-12, the overall balance of payments was relatively better than the UK's as a whole by some £845 a person in that year.The Scottish National party and the Yes Scotland independence campaign said the new figures, released on Wednesday, again showed that leaving the UK would make Scotland a comparatively wealthier country.But that claim was vigorously contested by their opponents.The pro-UK parties said an internal Scottish government economy paper, leaked to the pro-UK Better Together campaign, had proved that ministers had admitted in private oil revenues were a volatile and unreliable source of income.An independent Scotland could put its oil income into a reserve fund, but it would require further public spending cuts and greater spending on quangos and government bureaucracy, while it needed to spend more money in future to support Scotland's more rapidly ageing population.The paper admitted that the UK Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions helped absorb sharp swings in tax incomes: "This will imply more volatility in overall spending than at present. [This] also implies a degree of uncertainty in revenue and therefore in public finances, requiring a higher degree of resilience and innovative planning."The document, written for the Scottish cabinet, said its finances under independence would be more volatile, would be worse off than the UK in 2016-17, when its share of UK tax revenues would fall to 8.8%, and have a significant debt burden – inherited from the UK – which it would need to manage.The official government expenditure and revenue Scotland (Gers) statistics showed that in 2011-12, if a full geographical share of North Sea oil and gas revenues was included, Scotland generated 9.9% of total UK revenues while taking 9.3% of total UK spending.In four of the last five years, with a full geographical share of oil and gas revenues, Scotland was less in debt than the UK as a whole. That was a relative difference for Scotland of £12.6bn. Opinion polls have shown support for independence increases if voters think they will be £500 a year better off.But the figures also confirmed that since 2007-08 Scotland's net fiscal balance varied considerably: even with a full share of oil and gas revenues, its deficit varied from a low of -2.6% to a high of -10.7%, or £14.5bn.The Gers report confirmed that per capita, Scotland receives more per head on public spending than the UK average. While it had 8.4% of the UK's population, it received 9.3% of public spending, at £64.5bn.Disregarding North Sea oil and gas income, which flows directly to the UK Treasury, Scotland's actual tax revenues were £46.3bn, or 8.2% of the total raised in the UK.The pro-UK Better Together campaign said that taking the 13 years since devolution, that variation was even more extreme: in 1999, oil revenues fell to £2.5bn.Swinney said this was clear evidence that independence was in Scotland's interests: "If Scotland had full control of our finances we could have invested in jobs and infrastructure, reduced Scotland's share of the deficit, invested in a stability fund or directly support households."[With] responsibility for our own finances and our own vast natural resources, we will be able to make choices in our own best interests. With independence, we would control the fiscal levers we need to suit our own economic circumstances, and maximise Scotland's potential to secure new investment and jobs."Asked about the leaked economics paper, Swinney conceded that the volatility of oil income year on year meant financial uncertainties. "There would be economic challenges as there would be in any constitutional situation," he told the BBC."We are wrestling with economic and financial challenges today as part of the UK and most other countries are wrestling with these factors and of course an independent Scotland would have to operate sustainable public finances and invest in the economy."Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of the pro-independence umbrella group Yes Scotland, said: "What these figures show is that Scotland has one of the best sets of national accounts of any country in the developed world. They also clearly underline that Scotland has got what it takes to be a strong, independent nation and that our future will be built on robust financial foundations."Michael Moore, the Scottish secretary, said the success of the oil industry was heavily due to the UK government's support and investment, but it was still too unstable to provide long-term economic security."While the sector is valuable to our country the past decade has shown that the price of oil can be extremely volatile from year to year. This underlying volatility can be much better managed inside the larger UK, where oil and gas revenues represent a smaller percentage of overall tax revenues. Being part of a broader UK provides the stability and support that allows the industry to flourish," he said.Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: "Even in the good years we're running a deficit of £7.6bn, what would it be when the oil revenues drop?"In a paper leaked this morning the Scottish National party's own finance secretary admitted that an independent Scotland would face a growing deficit, threats to public spending and downplayed the prospect of an oil fund."These latest figures prove the folly of relying on such a volatile source of income. As part of the UK, Scotland shares the risks and rewards."Ken Macintosh, a senior Scottish Labour MSP, said: "Once again these figures show the benefit to all Scots of remaining part of the UK. We do not simply have a shared economy but also shared services, a shared pensions system and our largest trading partner is the rest of the UK. Our future is all the more secure because we share so much."The Gers figures reveal the folly of giving up on that shared stability for an uncertain economic future based on the unpredictable and declining resource of oil and gas."Scottish independenceScotlandScottish National party (SNP)OilEnergyFossil fuelsOilCommoditiesPublic financeScottish politicsSeverin Carrellguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

15 февраля 2013, 04:01

Codex Alimentarius and GM Food Guidelines, Pt. 5

Updated excerpt from Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom Available HereBrandon TurbevilleActivist Post In my last article, “Codex Alimentarius and GM Food Guidelines Pt.4,” I discussed a tangible, real-world example of the results of using “substantial equivalence” or “substantial similarity” when assessing the dangers of Genetically Modified (GM) food and/or approving that food for the market. Returning to the defining Codex document in relation to GM food, “Food Derived From Modern Biotechnology,” it should be noted that the risks associated with GMOs are dealt with in a rather curious manner. Indeed, the monitoring and management of risks from GM food after their approval is mentioned rather blandly in the introductory section of the Guidelines. It says,Post market-monitoring may be undertaken for the purpose of: A.) Verifying conclusions about the absence or the possible occurrence, impact and significance of potential consumer health effects; and B.) Monitoring changes in nutrient intake levels, associated with the introduction of foods likely to alter nutritional status significantly, to determine their human health impact. [1]It should be noted that these are issues which should be resolved in a scientific setting prior to market. Yet Codex is obviously content to allow the public to act as lab rats in the real world rather than force these side effects to be addressed in an actual lab. Absolute disregard for the global population is evident here. As will be discussed in future articles, when one understands the ultimate purpose of Codex Alimentarius, it becomes clear as to why policies like this emanate from the organization. Such is also the case when Codex mentions the management of risks finding their way into the market and the need for post-market tracing for the purpose of recall.[2] It is important to note that tracing food materials is a difficult task, especially if those products have already found their way into the environment and have begun to reproduce. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Regardless, the second chapter of Codex’s “Foods Derived From Modern Biotechnology” makes what should be considered a revelatory admission. It says,The Codex principles of risk analysis, particularly those for risk assessment, are primarily intended to apply to discrete chemical entities, such as food additives and pesticide residues, or a specific chemical or microbial contaminant that have identifiable hazards and risks; they are not intended to apply to whole foods as such.[3]Essentially, this is an admission that risk assessment methodology is absolutely incapable and inappropriate when dealing with the safety of a whole food. As Codex makes clear, the principles for risk assessment were never intended to address anything other than chemicals and additives. However, one should remember that risk assessment is indeed the method used to determine the safety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals by Codex Alimentarius in order to label them unsafe at unreasonably low levels. But Codex continues with even further admission that the testing methods used are not nearly as intense as one might think. The document reads,Traditionally, new varieties of food plants have not been systematically subjected to extensive chemical, toxicological or nutritional evaluation prior to marketing, with the exception of foods for specific groups, such as infants, where the food may constitute a substantial portion of the diet. Thus, new varieties of corn, soybean, potatoes and other common food plants are evaluated by breeders for agronomic and phenotypic characteristics, but generally, foods derived from such new plant varieties are not subjected to the rigorous and extensive food safety testing procedures, including studies in animals, that are typical of chemicals, such as food additives or pesticide residues, that may be present in food.[4]Simply put, Codex is admitting, albeit cleverly, that the testing method for whole foods is inadequate, and that the testing itself is not nearly as extensive as it would be for evaluating a known toxin like a chemical, pesticide, or apparently, vitamins and minerals. As related to Codex’s position on vitamins and minerals, Codex considers genetically modified foods that have been engineered to produce a deadly chemical or pesticide to be a whole food, but vitamin C is considered a toxin. Yet Codex does not stop here with the prefacing of their intended deceit and the admission of flawed and manipulated science. It says,Animal studies cannot be readily applied to testing the risks associated with whole foods, which are complex mixtures of compounds, often characterized by a wide variation in composition and nutritional value. Owing to their bulk and effect on satiety, they can usually only be fed to animals at low multiples of the amounts that might be present in the human diet. In addition, a key factor to consider in conducting animal studies on foods is the nutritional value and balance of the diets used; this is in order to avoid the induction of adverse effects that are not related directly to the material itself. Detecting any potential adverse effects and relating these conclusively to an individual characteristic of the food can, therefore, be extremely difficult. If the characterization of the food indicates that the available data are insufficient for a thorough safety assessment, properly designed animal studies could be requested on the whole foods. Another consideration in deciding the need for animal studies is whether it is appropriate to subject experimental animals to such a study if it is unlikely to give rise to meaningful information.[5]But there are several problems with this statement. First, let it be made clear that this writer does not support the use of animals for laboratory testing for any reason. However, this issue is not the focus of this article and it will be repeatedly referred to in its proper context in terms of scientific debate. That being said, what Codex has admitted to in this statement, albeit subtly, is that test subjects will actually be fed significantly less of the GM food in question than exists in the standard human diet. Nowhere does Codex mention that the amount fed to the test subjects can be adjusted per capita, but simply that the amount fed to them will be “at low multiples of the amounts that might be present in the human diet.”[6] Furthermore, Codex attempts to convince the reader that because of differences in nutritional values and diet balance in the animals being tested it is extremely difficult to determine if there are any adverse effects resulting from the material being tested or another material/condition. Hence, Codex would have the reader believe that this problem could not be solved by the addition of a control group. In the end, the overall conclusion of Codex is that testing GM foods is largely unproductive and that, for the most part, it should only be conducted in very special circumstances. Mere post-market tracking is looked upon as the most favorable route. This, however, leaves the consumer as the test subject, and corrective action can only be taken after it is too late for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.Codex furthers this claim with an admission of its acceptance of “substantial equivalence” as a testing standard. Because of the problems associated with using risk assessment to address dangers in whole foods (but evidently not nutrients and vitamins), Codex claims it must rely on substantial equivalence to address intended and unintended changes in the food. Hence, Codex officially accepts the concept. [7] In subsequent sections, Codex claims that even weak standards like substantial equivalence may not be required. The guidelines state, “For the reasons described in Section 3, conventional toxicology studies may not be considered necessary where the substance or a closely related substance has, taking into account its function and exposure, been consumed safely in food.”[8] However, there is no discussion of exactly how it will be determined that these substances have been consumed safely in food to begin with. Considering the fact that toxic substances like fluoride and rBGH have been consumed “safely” in food for many years, it is certainly frightening to think that even more substances may be created and added to the food supply under the guise of a history of safe consumption. Nevertheless, this process (or lack thereof) is not only unscientific, it is very dangerous. Although Codex clearly maintains a double standard in regards to GM food versus vitamins and nutrients, there are some similarities in the risk assessment procedure applied to them. One of the few instances in which Codex applies the same standards for GM food as for dietary supplements is the area of nutritional properties of the food. In fact, this procedure is in direct correlation to the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements and works in tandem with them in order to create a lower acceptable level of nutrients in the food itself. In relation to this situation, it is important to pay close attention to several statements made within the guidelines. For instance,Information about the known patterns of use and consumption of a food, and its derivatives should be used to estimate the likely intake of the food derived from the recombinant-DNA plant. The expected intake of the food should be used to assess the nutritional implications of the altered nutrient profile both at customary and maximal levels of consumption. Basing the estimate on the highest likely consumption provides assurance that the potential for any undesirable nutritional effects will be detected. [9]While this language is carefully crafted to appear benign and concerned only with the welfare of different cultures consuming the GM food, what is actually being presented is the idea of a Global Expectable Average Daily Diet for purposes of creating an Upper Limit not on GM food, but on the nutrients existing within the food itself - all this, while, at the same time, allowing genetically engineered food to remain virtually unregulated. As mentioned in the chapter dealing with vitamin and mineral supplements, the Global Average Daily Diet is simply taking the “average” level of consumption of a food or nutrient across the world and using that level as a base level standard for what will be considered the average intake of the product by all populations. The highest or lowest levels are usually chosen based on the needs of the scientist, particularly in situations like these where researchers have ulterior motives.Remember, in the case of vitamin and mineral food supplements where the highest level of intake was used instead of the real average. This was because third world countries were not included properly in the average. Like the GADD for vitamins and nutrients, the highest level of consumption will be used to examine GM food. However, using the highest level of consumption, in this case, will have an entirely different effect than it did upon vitamins and minerals. Using the highest level of consumption estimation in concert with the concept of substantial equivalence, Codex creates an environment where it would be difficult for GM food not to be approved. With the concept of substantial equivalence and the GADD taken in concert with one another, we could easily imagine a hypothetical scenario such as the following: We might imagine that potatoes have a higher consumption rate in North America and Europe than in other regions of the world. So researchers would determine, based on the rate of potato consumption of Europe and North America, the Global Expectable Average Daily Diet. This average consumption rate would be applied worldwide regardless of other cultures’ consumption of potatoes. Likewise, using the concept of substantial equivalence, GM potatoes would be approved with an Upper Limit of the highest rate of consumption worldwide. Thus, substantial equivalence and the GADD are two pieces of the puzzle used to craft a system of regulations in which vitamins and mineral supplements are severely restricted in terms of levels of nutrition, while GM food remains virtually unregulated at all. In future articles, I intend to expand upon the possibilities of these concepts to be used to form a regulatory structure in which nutrition itself is regulated even out of food and where the genetically modified version is the only acceptable product. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 7/28/12 */ google_ad_slot = "9833874419"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Notes: [1] “Foods Derived From Modern Biotechnology,” 2nd edition. Codex Alimentarius. P. 4 ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/011/a1554e/a1554e00.pdf Accessed May 24, 2010. [2] Ibid. p.4 [3] Ibid P. 7 [4] Ibid. p.8 [5] Ibid. p.9 [6] Ibid. p.9 [7] Ibid. p.9 [8] Ibid. p. 14 [9] Ibid. p.17Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here. Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 190 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. 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13 февраля 2013, 09:00

How reliable and consistent are subjective measures of welfare in Europe and Central Asia ? evidence from the second life in transition survey

This paper analyzes the reliability and consistency of subjective well-being measures. Using the Life in Transition Survey, which was administered in 34 countries of Europe and Central Asia in 2006 and 2010, the paper evaluates subjective well-being measures (satisfaction with life and subjective relative income position) against objective measures of welfare based on consumption and assets. It uses the different formulations of life satisfaction in the survey to test robustness to alternative framing and scaling. It also explores within-household differences in subjective well-being assessments. The analysis finds that subjective relative income is weakly correlated with household relative welfare position as measured by consumption or assets. Life satisfaction, by contrast, is highly correlated with objective and subjective measures of household welfare. It generally reflects cross-country differences in average consumption, assets, or per capita gross domestic product, although Central Asian countries report much higher life satisfaction levels than their incomes would suggest. Two alternative measures of life satisfaction are highly correlated and the correspondence between verbal and numeric scales is strong within a country or groupings of similar countries. Within households, subjective assessments of relative income are roughly consistent but measurement error is correlated with individual characteristics (gender and age of respondents), which could cause systematic biases in the analysis.

13 февраля 2013, 09:00

How reliable and consistent are subjective measures of welfare in Europe and Central Asia ? evidence from the second life in transition survey

This paper analyzes the reliability and consistency of subjective well-being measures. Using the Life in Transition Survey, which was administered in 34 countries of Europe and Central Asia in 2006 and 2010, the paper evaluates subjective well-being measures (satisfaction with life and subjective relative income position) against objective measures of welfare based on consumption and assets. It uses the different formulations of life satisfaction in the survey to test robustness to alternative framing and scaling. It also explores within-household differences in subjective well-being assessments. The analysis finds that subjective relative income is weakly correlated with household relative welfare position as measured by consumption or assets. Life satisfaction, by contrast, is highly correlated with objective and subjective measures of household welfare. It generally reflects cross-country differences in average consumption, assets, or per capita gross domestic product, although Central Asian countries report much higher life satisfaction levels than their incomes would suggest. Two alternative measures of life satisfaction are highly correlated and the correspondence between verbal and numeric scales is strong within a country or groupings of similar countries. Within households, subjective assessments of relative income are roughly consistent but measurement error is correlated with individual characteristics (gender and age of respondents), which could cause systematic biases in the analysis.