Minister Donohue, Stephen Donnelly speaking at DEW conference

A quick update on the annual DEW Conference. As noted a couple of weeks ago, the conference takes place in White’s of Wexford on September 22nd and 23rd. The post linked above outlined some highlights (at least in my own opinion) based on the programme as it was at the time.

An updated programme is now live at this link [PDF]. There are two further updates to the programme that readers may be interested to know:

  1. Firstly, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue will be giving the William Petty Keynote on Saturday evening, before the conference closes. He will speak after the Ireland in 2040 session, so it is likely he will address the regional spread of economic activity and the related topic of spending on infrastructure.
  2. Secondly, Stephen Donnelly TD will be giving the Cantillon Lecture on Friday afternoon. Stephen is the Fianna Fail spokesperson on Brexit and his lecture will be on the same topic.

For more on the conference and to buy tickets, please visit dublineconomics.com. Please note that, due to significant demand, there are no longer any rooms available at White’s. There is instead limited availability at the Maldron.

(Observant readers will have noticed that both named lectures are after economists with strong Kerry connections. Particularly in this, the 40th Annual DEW Conference, this is in recognition of the long association it has had with Kerry and with Kenmare in particular.)

2017/2018 Barrington Medal – deadline 8 September

THE STATISTICAL AND SOCIAL INQUIRY SOCIETY OF IRELAND:

Barrington Medal, 2017/2018

The Barrington Medal is awarded annually by the Council of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland under the auspices of the Barrington Trust (founded in 1836 by the bequest of John Barrington).  The award is intended to recognise promising new researchers in the economic and social sciences in Ireland. This will be the 169th anniversary of the lecture series and the recipient will be the one hundred and twenty-eighth Barrington Lecturer. The award is a silver medal and €1,000.

The lecture should be based on a paper of not more than 7,500 words addressing a topic of relevance to economic or social policy and of current interest in Ireland. In treating the issue of economic or social policy, the paper may either report the findings of a statistical research study dealing with some aspect of the problem or deal with the underlying theoretical considerations involved, or preferably combine these two approaches. It should be written in a manner that makes it accessible to non-specialists in the area. More technical material may be included in an appendix. The paper is published in the Journal of the Society, so it should not have been published before (nor should it be published subsequently without the prior consent of the Council of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland).

Candidates, who at the time of their submission must be within 10 years of completing a primary degree (or not more than 33 years of age), should at least submit a detailed abstract of approximately 1,000 words on the proposed lecture, with preference being given to full papers. A short CV and the name of a proposer who is familiar with their work should also be submitted. Entries will be accepted until September 8th and should be submitted to:

Martin O’Brien

Honorary Secretary

The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland

c/o Financial Stability Division

Central Bank of Ireland

PO Box 559

Dublin 1

e-mail: Secretary@ssisi.ie

Speaking Truth to Power(lessness)

One of the more remarkable episodes in the recent French presidential election, and with wider lessons, was a heated debate in Amiens between Emmanuel Macron and workers at a Whirlpool factory under threat of closure.

While Macron was holding talks with city and union leaders in the chamber of commerce, Madame Le Pen arrived unexpectedly outside the factory gates, took a number of selfies with workers, promised unspecified special measures to save the factory, denounced Macron and was driven off in her election bus.

After his meetings, Macron arrived at the same factory gates to face booing and jeering and cries of ‘Le Pen for President’. After explaining why he had met the leaders ahead of the workers (because, he said, leaders of a trade union that behaves responsibly should be engaged with), he promised to answer all questions, and he did for an hour. The following is my attempt to summarise the subsequent questions and answers; it involves some rearranging.

Q: Why don’t you close the French border, for instance to imports from Poland where wages were low.
A: I won’t close the borders or roll back globalisation because it will cost French workers thousand of jobs if they work for firms that need to be able to export.

Q: There no work, it’s too late for us to find other work, we are unemployable.
A: Absolutely not true. There is work but it is different work and it requires retraining.

Q: Why are companies allowed to pay dividends at the same time as they are closing factories?
A: Stopping dividends, or banning factory closures is not possible. It would end foreign investment into France, and all the jobs those investments bring.

Q: Our factory needs special measures.
A: It is the responsibility of the workers and managers to make a success of the business. It’s not the responsibility of the Finance Minister, who should firmly and even-handedly apply policies and laws that support long-term economic development. Even with the best policies and laws, unfortunately some factories will still close.

Macron’s reaction to almost every single thing said to him is an impassioned ‘Non, non, non.’ It is difficult to think of other examples, anywhere, of a politician, during an election, in front of the television cameras, telling voters he would not do what they asked because it would not be in their interests, but would instead support the policies the voters blamed for their difficulties. I won’t do things that won’t work, he says at one point. That’s not the policy I support, he says at another.

45 minutes of the discussion is to be found on the last video link on this page of the En Marche! party website. The first 9 minutes is an argument over why Macron went first to the chamber of commerce, and why he waited until the second round of the election to visit factories such as Whirlpool’s; the policy debate begins after that. In parts of the recording, Macron plunges into the crowd and the exchanges can’t be heard very clearly.

Analysis of Low Pay Sectors

Readers may have seen that the Low Pay Commission recently published their report Recommendations on the National Minimum Wage for 2018.

Perhaps of most interest to readers of this blog are the detailed appendices, which include a study by Revenue and Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) economists Seán Kennedy, Brian Stanley and Gerry McGuinness of the low pay sectors based on tax return microdata. This paper is also separately available here.

The paper examines the incomes and mobility of taxpayers and the profitability of employers in Ireland using Revenue’s tax record data. The distributional and mobility analysis of low income taxpayers is based on a longitudinal dataset, which follows approximately 100,000 taxpayers for 4 years from 2011 to 2014. These taxpayers are stratified random sample drawn from the entire population of 2.1 million tax units on Revenue records. While analysis of incomes in Ireland and internationally is often based on a snapshot at a moment in time, the longitudinal nature of this dataset allows measurement of income mobility over time.

Some of the key findings are as follows:

  • One in three taxpayers are low paid, defined as those earning below two-thirds of median income.
  • The highest proportions of low paid taxpayers are in the wholesale & retail trade (23 per cent) and accommodation & food (19 per cent) sectors.
  • Five low pay sectors are identified, having median incomes that are substantially below the median income for all sectors. They include accommodation & food service activities, wholesale & retail trade and administrative & support service activities.  Slightly over one third of employments are in low pay sectors.
  •  Low pay sectors have the highest proportions of the youngest taxpayers. Two in five taxpayers are aged 24 and under in the accommodation & food sector.
  • In the low pay sectors, males earn slightly more than females while in the other sectors females earn more. The sectors with the highest ratio of males to females are construction, transport and agriculture (7.5, 2.9 and 2.8 times respectively).
  • In Dublin, median incomes in low pay sectors incomes are 7 per cent higher than those outside Dublin (compared to 9 per cent higher in the other sectors).

Based on an analysis of income mobility, lower paid taxpayers working in low paid sectors have a higher chance of increasing their incomes in future years relative to others within the same sector. For example, in the accommodation & food sector almost half moved upwards from the bottom quintile between 2013 and 2014.

IGEES Papers and Outputs

The Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) recently published a summary of papers and other outputs by IGEES economists. This showcases the papers that have been published on the IGEES website from January to December of 2016. While this is not an exhaustive list of the work that IGEES staff undertake, it does show the varied and detailed work that IGEES staff carryout throughout the year.

The summary is available here.