Gender Gap

After the EIU, the WEF now also has a global report on equality between the sexes.

Ireland comes 6th out of 134 countries. That is great.

The build-up is peculiar, though. Ireland tops the bill on equality in educational attainment, although bonus points seem to be given for absent men at third level.

Ireland could do better on wage equality for similar work, on labour participation, and on senior jobs — but does rather well on uncorrected wage equality and on female professionals.

I guess that the data are somewhat older, and Ireland is getting points in gender equality because young men left school to be builders.

Ireland does well in political representation, primarily because of Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. I would think that the largely ceremonial presidency should be discounted. Ireland does rather more poorly on female parliamentarians and ministers.

It gets strange on “health and survival”. Ireland ranks 89th. One subindex is female to male life expectancy. Irish women do not live long enough compared to men.The other subindex is male to female births — 106 boys for 100 boys, but surely not because of selective abortion or infanticide. [THIS PARAGRAPH WAS CORRECTED]

Not sure what to make of this. Ireland’s rank is too high and too low at the same time.

Child Benefit Payments Cut for UK High-Rate Taxpayers

The BBC report on the UK Chancellor’s decision to axe child benefits from top-rate taxpayers. Rates in Ireland are approximately 150 per child per month (but vary with family size) and are paid universally regardless of family income for each child aged under 16 or under 18 and in full-time education. Like any universal payment of this nature, there is the obvious question as to why people on higher incomes should be receiving a transfer payment from the state. A less obvious question is what we mean by higher incomes and where the threshold should be set. Expenditure on this scheme is approximately 2.3 billion euro in Ireland. Those arguing to keep the benefit as it stands might question why we will end up subsidising John Terry’s wages (see Karl’s post below) while cutting benefits from mothers and children. I am not sure I have an answer to that one either. If we do have to cut, then I would rather it be from people like me with above average salaries and for schemes like child benefit that don’t have an obvious reason to be universal rather than from well-targeted schemes.

Women’s Economic Opportunities

The Economist Intelligence Unit has a report on women’s economic opportunities, indexing and ranking countries’ relative performance. Leo Abruzzese discusses the general issues over at VoxEU. Let us focus on Ireland.

Ireland ranks 16th out of 113 countries. Better than most, worse than some. We cannot afford to hold back part of the workforce. Increasing productivity is one way of getting Ireland back on its feet.

Here are the factors that are keeping Ireland’s women down:

* Provisions for maternity and paternity leave

* Legal restrictions on job types

* De facto discrimination at work

* Access to child care

* Access to credit

* Adolescent fertility rate

* Non-ratification of the convention against all forms of non-discrimination against women

None of these issues were raised in the latest report on the Smart Economy. Making better use of existing resources is, apparently, not smart.

Heckman Policy Website

James Heckman’s work on human capital investment has been prolific over the last number of years and has major implications for a wide range of policy areas. His papers are rarely easy reading, drawing from detailed structural econometric models that he has developed over several years with colleagues. A new website outlines his basic ideas in short and accessible videos and documents (h/t Colm Harmon who is one of a number of colleagues in UCD working on this area in Ireland). This is as close as it gets to a clear answer to a major question in Economics and is essential for any policy people who read this blog across fields such as health, education, social policy, criminal justice and a range of other fields. Heckman has emphasised rigorously designed and evaluated early childhood interventions that promote a broad range of skills and personal development.

Rising US inequality

Edward Luce has a really good piece on this much-studied phenomenon here.