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Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US
Source: Inrix

With people in Europe and the US currently wasting on average 111 hours annually in gridlock, the impact of traffic congestion on individual driver’s time is well understood. However, new research shows traffic congestion actually does much more than test our patience. It’s a significant drain on our wallets as well our economies.

A new report by INRIX in collaboration with one of the world’s leading economic think tanks, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), quantifies the cost of traffic congestion on individual households and national economies in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany. This is the first study of its kind to forecast the projected increases in these costs in these countries and their most congested cities between 2013 and 2030. Driven by urbanization and increased GDP per capita over the next 17 years, a few of the key findings include:

  • The combined annual cost of gridlock to these countries is expected to soar to $293.1 billion by 2030, almost a 50% increase from 2013.
  • Over this period, the cumulative cost of congestion for these economies combined is estimated to be a staggering $4.4 trillion.
  • The overall economic impact is greatest in the U.S. where the estimated cumulative cost of traffic congestion by 2030 is $2.8 trillion – the same amount Americans collectively paid in U.S. taxes last year.
  • However the UK (at 66%) and London (at 71%) will see the greatest annual rise in the cost of congestion by 2030, mainly as a result of seeing the highest increase in urbanization
  • At the individual level, traffic congestion cost drivers $1,740 last year on average across the four countries. If unchecked, this number is expected to grow more than 60% to $2,902 annually by 2030.

Free registration required to download report.

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Local determinants of crime: Do military bases matter?

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Local determinants of crime: Do military bases matter? (PDF)
Source: Demographic Research

BACKGROUND
The majority of crime is committed by young men, and young men comprise the majority of the military – base population. The confluence of these two empirical regularities invites a scientific look at the contribution of a military base to criminal activity in its geographic periphery.

OBJECTIVE
We estimate the impact on criminal activity of the massive base realignments and closures that occurred in Germany for the period 2003 – 2007. In particular, we examine breaking and entering, automobile – related crime, violent crime, and drug – related crime.

METHODS
We use a fixed – effect model to account for time – invariant unobservable elements in a panel of 298 military bases. We also take advantage of geographic information system software to mitigate issues arising from the spatial nature of the dataset.

RESULTS
The estimates indicate that the base realignments and closures did not have a significant impact on criminal activity surrounding base s . Traditional correlates of crime remain statistically significant in our specifications.

CONCLUSIONS
Although crime is largely committed by young men, we find that the closure of military bases, which are staffed primarily by young men, does not have an impact on criminal activity. For matters of regional policy, we find that arguments pertaining to criminal activity generated by milit ary bases are not supported by data

COMMENTS
Economic wellbeing, as measured by real GNP and relative disposable income, is negatively associated with crime. Higher unemployment has a positive association. Regions with higher percentage of foreigners also have higher levels of crime.

Transforming the Electricity Portfolio: Lessons from Germany and Japan in Deploying Renewable Energy

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Transforming the Electricity Portfolio: Lessons from Germany and Japan in Deploying Renewable Energy
Source: Brookings Institution

Amid an ongoing international debate on the reduction of carbon emissions, Germany and Japan are undertaking a dramatic shift in their electricity portfolios. The 2011 Japanese earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility accident have sparked both Japanese and German energy policy to shift away from carbon-free nuclear energy and towards renewables. However, despite large gains in market share by renewables, these two countries have seen increases in both fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions as the market share of nuclear energy has declined.

This shift raises fundamental energy policy questions: how can countries simultaneously decarbonize their electricity mix while phasing out nuclear energy? What are the costs and challenges of large-scale renewable integration? Who will bear these costs? In the Energy Security Initiative’s latest policy brief, authors John Banks, Charles Ebinger and Alisa Schackmann seek to answer these questions while identifying potential relevant lessons for large-scale deployment of renewables in the United States.

Art and Judaica Looted by Nazis from Jews Still Largely Unidentified; Review of 50 Countries Shows Little Progress Despite International Pacts

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Art and Judaica Looted by Nazis from Jews Still Largely Unidentified; Review of 50 Countries Shows Little Progress Despite International Pacts
Source: Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference)

Claims Conference President Julius Berman announced that a new report shows that 15 years after the first international agreement regarding restitution of Nazi-era looted art, most countries have made little progress toward returning stolen cultural items to their rightful owners. A survey of 50 countries by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) shows that two-thirds of the nations that have endorsed agreements regarding research, publicity and claims for Nazi-era looted art have done little or nothing to implement those pacts.

The Claims Conference/WJRO reviewed activity over the past 15 years regarding the identification of artworks, Judaica, and other cultural property plundered from Jews by the Nazis and their allies.While there have been some positive developments since the 2009 Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference, only one-third of the participating nations have made major or substantial progress towards implementing the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art (endorsed by 44 countries in 1998) and the Terezin Declaration (endorsed by 47 countries in 2009). All of the countries are signatories to the Code of Ethics for Museums of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which calls upon museums to establish the full provenance of items in their collections, but only a minority of museums has actually implemented this Code.

The Prevalence of Apprenticeships in Germany and the United States

August 22, 2014 Comments off

The Prevalence of Apprenticeships in Germany and the United States (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

The educational systems and labor markets of Germany and the United States take different approaches to preparing young people for the workforce. One feature of Germany’s workforce development model that has been of interest to policymakers in the United States is the important role played by employer-financed apprenticeships. The United States instead relies mainly on comprehensive general education, with career training largely taking place in community colleges and other postsecondary institutions. Research has pointed to several factors that may foster apprenticeships in Germany to a greater extent than in the United States, including labor-market conditions, social norms, and other circumstances.

The changing hospital landscape: An exploration of international experiences

August 20, 2014 Comments off

The changing hospital landscape: An exploration of international experiences
Source: RAND Corporation

The nature of hospital activity is changing in many countries, with some experiencing a broad trend towards the creation of hospitals groups or chains and multi-hospital networks. This report seeks to contribute to the understanding of experiences in other countries about the extent to which different hospital ‘models’ may provide lessons for hospital provision in England by means of a review of four countries: France, Germany, Ireland and the United States, with England included for comparison. We find that here has been a trend towards privatisation and the formation of hospital groups in France, Germany and the United States although it is important to understand the underlying market structure in these countries explaining the drivers for hospital consolidation. Thus, and in contrast to the NHS, in France, Germany and the United States, private hospitals contribute to the delivery of publicly funded healthcare services. There is limited evidence suggesting that different forms of hospital cooperation, such as hospital groups, networks or systems, may have different impacts on hospital performance. Available evidence suggests that hospital consolidation may lead to quality improvements as increased size allows for more costly investments and the spreading of investment risk. There is also evidence that a higher volume of certain services such as surgical procedures is associated with better quality of care. However, the association between size and efficiency is not clear-cut and there is a need to balance ‘quality risk’ associated with low volumes and ‘access risk’ associated with the closure of services at the local level.

Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

We measure consumers’ use of cash by harmonizing payment diary surveys from seven countries. The seven diary surveys were conducted in 2009 (Canada), 2010 (Australia), 2011 (Austria, France, Germany, and the Netherlands), and 2012 (the United States). Our paper finds cross-country differences — for example, the level of cash use differs across countries. Cash has not disappeared as a payment instrument, especially for low-value transactions. We also find that the use of cash is strongly correlated with transaction size, demographics, and point-of-sale characteristics such as merchant card acceptance and venue.

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