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People in Emerging Markets Catch Up to Advanced Economies in Life Satisfaction

October 31, 2014 Comments off

People in Emerging Markets Catch Up to Advanced Economies in Life Satisfaction
Source: Pew Research Global Attitudes Project

People in emerging economies are considerably more satisfied with their lives today than they were in 2007. A Pew Research Center survey finds that publics in emerging nations now rival those in advanced economies in their self-reported well-being. The rise in happiness among middle income countries is driven in large part by attitudes in Asian nations, such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia. People in developing economies are also happier today than they were seven years ago, though the improvement has been more modest.

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UK — Benefits of Investing in Cycling

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Benefits of Investing in Cycling (PDF)
Source: British Cycling

Investing in cycling will generate benefits for the whole country, not just those using a bike to get around. Eleven benefits are summarised here which can help solve a series of health, social and economic problems. This report shows how investing in cycling is good for our transport systems as a whole, for local economies, for social inclusion, and for public health.

Creating a cycling revolution in the UK requires sustained investment. In European countries with high cycling levels, levels of investment are also substantially higher than in the UK. The All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Inquiry has recommended a minimum of £10 annually per person, rising to £20, which would begin to approach the spending levels seen in high-cycling countries.

Investing in cycling will enable transport authorities to start putting in place the infrastructure we need to ensure people of all ages and abilities can choose to cycle for short everyday trips. As well as making cycle journeys more pleasant, safer and faster, it sends the signal that cycling is a normal way to travel. This is important because the perception of cycling as a marginal and minority mode is off-putting to many people.

Canada’s pay gap

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Canada’s pay gap
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

A new CCPA study, Narrowing the Gap: The difference pubic sector wages make, compares the wages of full-time public and private sector workers and finds significant gaps in the wages of women, aboriginal workers, and visible minority workers. Those gaps are bigger in the private sector in every instance:

  • University educated aboriginal workers make 44% less than their non-aboriginal peers in the private sector. In the public sector, their wage gap shrinks to 14%.
  • University educated women working in the private sector earn 27% less than men. Their wage gap in the public sector is 18%.
  • University educated visible minority workers take home 20% less than their non-visible minority counterparts. In the public sector, their wage gap is 12%.

Salaries are higher in the public sector precisely for those groups of people who experience the greatest discrimination in the private sector—because the public sector goes further in correcting those discriminatory practices. The result is not higher wages but rather a more equitable system of pay.

Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency
Source: World Bank

Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency, a World Bank Group flagship publication, is the 12th in a series of annual reports measuring the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. Doing Business presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 189 economies—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe—and over time.

Doing Business measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Ten of these areas are included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Doing Business also measures labor market regulation, which is not included in this year’s ranking.

Data in Doing Business 2015 are current as of June 1, 2014. The indicators are used to analyze economic outcomes and identify what reforms of business regulation have worked, where and why. This year’s report introduces a notable expansion of several indicator sets and a change in the calculation of rankings.

Backgrounder: Media Censorship in China

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: Media Censorship in China
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Chinese government has long kept tight reins on both traditional and new media to avoid potential subversion of its authority. Its tactics often entail strict media controls using monitoring systems and firewalls, shuttering publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists, bloggers, and activists. The severity of media censorship grabbed headlines in early January 2013 when Southern Weekly, a liberal-leaning paper based in Guangzhou, staged a week-long confrontation with the government after local propaganda authorities rewrote a front-page pro-reform editorial. Google’s battle with the Chinese government over Internet censorship in China, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, have also increased international attention to media censorship in the country. At the same time, the country’s burgeoning economy has allowed for greater diversity in China’s media coverage, and experts say the growing Chinese demand for information is testing the regime’s control.

Consumer Credit in Canada

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Consumer Credit in Canada
Source: IBISWorld

Record low interest rates and rising house prices in Canada have encouraged Canadians to take on more debt over the 10 years to 2014, with similar trends expected over 2015. IBISWorld estimates that overall debt per capita including mortgages for Canadian consumers will increase at an annualized rate of 3.7% to $49,634 over the five years to 2014, while debt per capita excluding mortgages will increase at an annualized rate of 1.8% to $17,338 over the same period. IBISWorld expects overall debt and debt excluding mortgages to increase to $52,547 and $17,893, respectively, by the end of 2015. While the massive increase in consumer debt has enabled higher spending by Canadian consumers, benefiting many segments of the economy, high consumer debt could have potentially devastating consequences for the economy in case of any negative exogenous changes, such as a drop in house prices or an increase in interest rates.

Malaysia: the ruling coalition strikes back – Commons Library Standard Note

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Malaysia: the ruling coalition strikes back – Commons Library Standard Note
Source: House of Commons Library

In May 2013 elections, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, won a majority of seats in parliament despite gaining only 47% of the vote. The opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), led by Anwar Ibrahim, gained 51% of the vote but extreme variations in the size of parliamentary constituencies across Malaysia meant that it was unable to translate that into electoral victory.

The outcome represented a further erosion of the BN’s once impregnable political ascendancy in Malaysia. Prime Minister Najib had sought to win back enough urban Malays and Chinese-origin voters by invoking “One Malaysia” and introducing a cautious range of political reforms. He did just enough, although the opposition challenged the probity of the result.

With his leadership under significant threat within UMNO, the dominant Malay party within the BN, since the 2013 elections Najib has launched a campaign of harassment of the political opposition and focused anew on affirmative action for Malays. Longstanding sodomy charges have been revived against Anwar Ibrahim – he is currently appealing against a five-year jail sentence but if unsuccessful his political career could well be over – and he could soon also be charged with sedition. Many wonder if the PR will hold together if he is removed from the scene.

At the same time, Najib has sought to preserve his international reputation as a reformer, focusing primarily on economic liberalisation measures. But a closer look suggests that his reforming credentials are currently somewhat threadbare.

Hat tip: GP

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