Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Drowning the poor in excessive wages: the problems of the minimum wage law

Robert Schuldt, Davis Woodall and Walter E. Block (Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) published in Humanomics Volume 28 Issue 4 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the minimum wage law is deleterious to the unskilled, to the young and to members of minority groups.
The main method used in this paper is the logical application of basic supply and demand economic analysis.
The authors found that when a minimum wage of any given level is imposed, those with productivities below that level are at great risk of unemployment. For example, with a minimum wage of $10 per hour, those who can only produce at the rate of $1-$7, $8, or $9 per hour are likely to become unemployed. Similarly, if the level is raised to, say, $100, then even people with productivity levels of $8 or $90 per hour will lose their jobs.
Research limitations/implications
More effort should be made to ascertain who it is that gains from this law, if it is not the poor and unskilled. Attention should be focused on labour unions in this regard.
Practical implications
The practical implication of this research is that the minimum wage should be repealed.
Social implications
Present public attitudes, however, overwhelmingly support this legislative enactment. But this is based on economic illiteracy. The public needs to be educated in basic economics.
This paper, if its implications are implemented, will have great value for all those who wish the unemployment rate to be radically reduced.

JEL classification: J64

Hazel’s comment:
Please remember that the author is writing about the USA but many students of economics believe that the same effect can be seen in the UK.

New legislative settings and the application of the participative-democratic model of mainstreaming equality in public policy making: evidence from the UK's devolution programme

an article by Paul Chaney (Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Wales) published in Policy Studies Volume 33 Issue 5 (September 2012)


Studies of established parliamentary contexts highlight institutional barriers to mainstreaming equality of opportunity in public policy-making.

In contrast, this paper uses an actor-centred institutionalist perspective to explore the case of the new devolved legislatures in the UK purposively designed with mechanisms to broaden engagement in the policy process.

It assesses progress in applying the participative-democratic model of mainstreaming to policy-making.

The findings – based upon analysis of legislative proceedings and equality and human rights organisations’ accounts – reveal that ‘system openness’ has afforded opportunities to engage in – and influence – policy work. Yet, problems and shortcomings are also identified – signifying a ‘disconnect’ between the rhetoric and reality of mainstreaming at the meso-level – and continuity with the pre-existing policy style in UK governance.

The wider significance of this is that potential gains afforded by the adoption of mainstreaming in legislative settings purposively designed to foster the engagement of exogenous interests can be negated by leadership issues and government failure to secure the full range of pre-requisites prescribed by mainstreaming theory.

The future of young women's economic role in a globalized economy: New opportunities, persisting constraints

an article by Marlis Buchmann (University of Zurich) and Tina Malti (University of Toronto) published in New Directions for Youth Development Volume 2012 Issue 135 (Autumn (Fall) 2012)


Young women in advanced industrial countries have been outperforming young men in educational attainment at the same time that their labour market outcomes are still lagging.

Sex segregation in education and the labour market is identified as an important source of this imbalance.

Hazel’s comment:
I will continue to bewail the shortness of the abstracts in this journal which would, for most issues, matter not very much but this special has so much that relates to careers and transitions, albeit in the USA, that I despair.

Comparing vocabulary learning of EFL learners by using two different strategies (mobile learning vs. flashcards)

an article by Mahnaz Saeidi and Mohammad Amin Mozaheb (affiliation(s) not provided) published in International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation Volume 5 Number 3/4 (2012)


Vocabulary learning is one of the most important aspects of language learning. There are a number of techniques and technologies which enhance vocabulary learning in the year 2012, e.g. wordlists, flashcards and m-learning.

Mobile phones are among those devices which not only meet the expectations of their users for communication, but are also good devices for language learning. Mobile phones can be used anywhere and any time, and students are free to use them inside or outside the classroom setting.

The present study compared the use of two strategies for vocabulary learning (i.e. flashcards and m-learning) among 80 students studying English Literature and Translation at BA level in a non-profit, non-governmental university in the city of Tehran, the capital of Iran.

The findings showed that the use of mobile phones for language learning and vocabulary learning would be a better strategy compared to the use of other paramount techniques, such as flashcards.

‘You have to choose your childcare to fit your work’: Childcare decision-making among low-income working families

an article by Heather Sandstrom and Ajay Chaudry (Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, Urban Institute, Washington, DC) Journal of Children and Poverty Volume 18 Issue 2 (2012)


Regardless of their economic background, most working parents face the task of arranging childcare at some point. The decision-making process they experience is often complex, and this complexity is intensified for particular groups of families with limited financial and social resources.

In this paper, we present findings from a three-year qualitative study of the childcare choices of low-income working families, many of whom were immigrants, had limited English proficiency, were parents of children with special needs, or represented some combination of these factors.

The study explored families’ current care arrangements, their reasons for selecting a particular form of childcare, and the characteristics of their ideal arrangements. Data were coded to identify themes in parental preferences, decision factors, and the barriers families faced in accessing their preferred care arrangements.

Most significantly, the parents studied described their preferences for an environment where their children could learn and be in the presence of caring and trustworthy caregivers. About a third of the families said they preferred relatives as caregivers, and selected relatives to provide childcare. Other parents selected care according to cost, location, and availability of the provider; they described the challenges of locating affordable, high-quality care that met their nonstandard schedules.

These findings have important implications for childcare policy.

Spatially Concentrated Deprivation in England: An Empirical Assessment

an article by Alasdair Rae (Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield, UK) published in Regional Studies Volume 46 Issue 9 (2012)


Spatially concentrated deprivation is a well-documented phenomenon and is of interest to a diverse constituency of academics and policy-makers.

Despite the accepted view of concentrated deprivation as a problem, however, the empirical basis for understanding it remains under-developed. Therefore, an attempt is made here to provide an empirical assessment of spatially concentrated deprivation in England using spatial statistics and a policy-relevant deprivation measure.

More localized analyses are also conducted for London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

The results demonstrate that deprivation in England is highly concentrated, that it varies significantly over space and that spatial patterns persist through time.

JEL classifications: J, J0, J4, J6, J40, J60, J64

Can training teachers stimulate career learning conversations? Analysis of vocational training conversations in Dutch secondary vocational education

an article by Annemie Winters and Herman Baert (Centre for Research on Professional Learning & Development, Leuven, Belgium) and Frans Meijers and Marinka Kuijpers (The Hague University of Professional Education, The Netherlands) published in Journal of Vocational Education & Training Volume 64 Issue 3 (2012)


In present-day society students are no longer expected to learn for stable employment, but for lifelong employability.

This implies a major shift in educational approach.

Previous research has shown which characteristics of learning environments correlate with students’ competences to self-direct their careers, but until now this had not inspired intervention studies.

Following a baseline measure (reported in Winters et al. 2009), we studied vocational training conversations during the transition to competence-based education in the Netherlands and more specifically before and after a specific teacher training.

Results show a significant shift in the organisation of career learning conversations as a result of the teacher training, but also highlight the difficulty of actual behavioural change in educational reform.

Council Tax Benefit - Forecasts and assumptions

This research report from the DWP has no reference number that I can find (and believe me I have looked, and looked)

Executive summary

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) currently subsidises local authority spend on Council Tax Benefit (CTB) and provides forecasts of future expenditure to the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) on a biannual basis.

These estimates inform the Budget and Autumn Statements. In April 2013, Council Tax Benefit will be abolished and help for individuals to pay their Council Tax will be localised.

This was announced as part of the 2010 Spending Review, which also committed to reduce UK government expenditure on the benefit by ten percent. From this point, the DWP will no longer be responsible for forecasting expenditure on the replacement schemes individual local authorities choose to operate, and this has prompted a number of queries on forecasting methodology from Communities and Local Government (CLG), the devolved administrations, and individual Local Authorities, amongst others.

In agreement with the OBR, a decision was taken to make detailed information on the forecasts, trends and assumptions available publicly, in the interests of transparency.

This publication provides a background to Council Tax Benefit in its current form, how it is currently forecast within the DWP, and details the underlying assumptions reviewed when the forecasts are updated.

It also provides a commentary on past and future expenditure trends which underpin the forecasts, including by country.

Full text (PDF 23pp)

Hazel’s comment:
One of the few things I have actually read (if I read everything through thoroughly I’d never get anything posted) and I still don’t understand it beyond the “local government is going to be responsible for this in future”.

A preliminary study of cognitive failures in open plan offices

an article by Brian Purdey (Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia) and David Leifer (University of Sydney, Australia) published in Facilities Volume 30 Issue 11/12 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of a new method using instruments with increased ability to objectively assess and quantify the performance impacts on office workers in built environment settings.
A Distractibility Index (DI) was calculated for sample employees, who then used a computer-based instrument in two settings to evaluate cognitive impairment
There was measured cognitive impairment in higher distracting work environments. There is potential to use DI to predict performance detriments and aid better workplace design/management.
Research limitations/implications
The study employed only a small sample size. The level of noise and other distractions in the settings studied need to be measured objectively. There is a need to differentiate between various sources of distraction in terms of their impact on cognitive impairment.
Practical implications
The findings of this paper can help to improve workplace performance, with less reliance on physical design solutions.
Workplace performance evaluations typically use subjective measures and self-assessments. Modern work is increasingly cognitive, and hence new computer-based and more objective tools are required. The tool used in this research has been highly validated in other applications.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sen and the art of educational maintenance: evidencing a capability, as opposed to an effectiveness, approach to schooling

an article by Anthony Kelly (University of Southampton, UK) published in Cambridge Journal of Education Volume 42 Issue 3 (September 2012)


There are few more widely applied terms in common parlance than ‘capability’.

It is used (inaccurately) to represent everything from the aspiration to provide opportunity to notions of innate academic ability, with everything in between claiming apostolic succession to Amartya Sen, who (with apologies to Aristotle) first developed the concept.

This paper attempts to warrant an adaptation of Sen’s capability theory to schooling and schooling policy, and to proof his concepts in the new setting using research involving 100 pupils from five English secondary schools and a schedule of questions derived from the capability literature.

The findings suggest that a capability approach can provide an alternative to the dominant Benthamite school effectiveness paradigm, and can offer a sound theoretical framework for understanding better the assumed relationship between schooling and well-being.

‘I don’t make out how important it is or anything’: identity and identity formation by part-time higher education students in an English further education college

an article by Bill Esmond (Chesterfield College, UK) published in Journal of Vocational Education & Training Volume 64 Issue 3 (September 2012)


Policy-makers in England have recently, in common with other Anglophone countries, encouraged the provision of higher education within vocational Further Education Colleges. Policy documents have emphasised the potential contribution of college-based students to widening participation: yet the same students contribute in turn to the difficulties of this provision.

This article draws on a study of part-time higher education students in a college, a group whose perspectives, identities and voices have been particularly neglected by educational research.

Respondents’ narratives of non-participation at 18 indicated the range of social and geographical constraints shaping their decisions and their aspirations beyond higher education; whilst they drew on vocational and adult traditions to legitimate college participation, their construction of identity was also shaped by the boundaries between further education and the university.

These distinctive processes illustrate both possibilities and constraints for future higher education provision within colleges.

Education, Intergenerational Mobility and Inequality

a Working Paper by Nathalie Chusseau (EQUIPPE, University of Lille 1) and Joël Hellier (EQUIPPE, Univ. of Lille 1, and LEMNA, Univ. of Nantes) in collaboration with Bassem Ben-Halima (EQUIPPE, University of Lille 1) published by ECINEQ (Society for the Study of Economic Inequality) (September 2012)


We review the economic literature on the impacts of the several dimensions of education upon intergenerational inequality persistency.

It is firstly outlined that the critical increase in the population education level in all countries has not come with lower inequality. The basic tools of education and intergenerational mobility modelling are subsequently exposed (OLG, education functions, education decision making etc.).

The following two theoretical sections analyse the cases in which education leads
  1. to human capital convergence in the long term and
  2. to social stratification with the emerging of under-education traps (situations in which certain dynasties remain continuously under-educated).
A simple modelling of both cases is proposed for two types of educational decisions, one based on the family expenditure on education and the other on the time spent for education.

The factors that generate social stratification and under education traps are especially underlined.

The empirical literature on the determinants of educational attainment and intergenerational mobility is finally reviewed.

This reveals the crucial impact of family backgrounds on educational attainment in all countries. It also demonstrates huge and lasting differences across countries in terms of intergenerational mobility.

JEL Classifications: E24, I24, J24, J62

Assessing gender biases: Development and initial validation of the gender role stereotypes scale

an article by Maura J. Mills (Hofstra University, New York, USA), Satoris S. Culbertson and Angela R. Connell (Kansas State University, USA) and Ann H. Huffman (Northern Arizona University, USA) published in Gender in Management: An International Journal Volume 27 Issue 8 )2012)


The purpose of this research is to develop and validate a new gender role stereotypes scale intended to be a short, effective, and modern measure of gender role attitudes.
A total of 800 participants completed an online survey, with 546 completing a second survey one week later. Recommended scale development procedures were utilized throughout in order to design and test the proposed instrument.
Item analyses determined a final set of most effective items, while exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses provided support for the eight-item, two-dimensional (female stereotypes, male stereotypes) scale (Gender Role Stereotypes Scale – GRSS). Additionally, internal consistency and test-retest reliabilities were acceptable, as was the construct-related validity. This study also finds that gender role stereotypes are best examined as a two-factor construct (male, female), rather than conceptualized as two poles of a unidimensional continuum.
Practical implications
The GRSS has advantages over similar measures, including that it assesses attitudes toward both men and women with only eight items, and includes items that are easily understandable, cross-culturally appropriate, and modern. Practitioners can use the GRSS to assess potential gender role stereotypes held by management. If managers are found to have highly traditional gender role stereotypes, organizations may be able to intervene before stereotypes affect performance ratings or task assignments.
This paper yields an updated and sound measurement scale to replace outdated scales assessing similar constructs and/or assessing only one gender role stereotype (male or female, versus both). The GRSS allows for the parsimonious, comprehensive, and effective measurement of gender role stereotypes in research and practice alike.

University-industry research competition launches

A competition aiming to encourage universities and public sector research organisations to collaborate with business and local communities on innovative research projects has been launched by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The Fast Forward competition has a total prize fund of £750,000, which will be divided among 12 winning projects, with awards ranging from £10,000 to £100,000.

Sean Dennehey, chief executive of the IPO, said competition judges were looking for projects to create companies and services that would benefit society and improve the economy.

There is more on the Fast Forward competition at:

Universal Credit: without urgent changes the Government risks undermining it.s own reforms

via JRF - Combined Feed by Tony Wilson

The government’s arguments for welfare reform are well rehearsed.

There is a fiscal case but also an economic and social one: too many people are only marginally better off in work, while the design of the system has trapped people in poverty and worklessness.

Universal Credit, we are told, will fix these economic and social problems.

However research published today [30 October 2012], supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, tells us that without urgent changes the Government risks undermining its own reforms.

Continue reading

The future of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, and Agricultural Wages Committees and Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees in England

A notice from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Consultation start: 16 October 2012
Consultation end: 12 November 2012


In July 2010 the Government announced its decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, along with the Agricultural Wages Committees and the Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees in England. However, before taking a decision on the future of these bodies it has decided to seek the views of interested parties.

The Government considers that by abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board, and hence the agricultural minimum wage regime, it will simplify employment practices and remove an unnecessary regulatory burden. This will enable the industry to adopt flexible working practices and help to ensure a sustainable and viable future for agriculture.

Similarly it believes that given their reduced and limited functions it is difficult to justify the continued existence and public expense of the Agricultural Wages Committees and Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees. Therefore these thirty one regional bodies should likewise be abolished.

The Consultation Document sets out a number of questions on which the Government would welcome your views.

16 October 2012

How to respond

Responses should be sent to the following email address: by 12 November 2012.

Or by post to:
Dermot McInerney
Area 8E,
9 Millbank
c/o 17, Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

Further information: Agricultural employment and wages

Hazel’s comment:
Why do I get this funny feeling that the government is doing away with the bodies that are easy to ditch in order to meet targets for reducing quangos etc?
And the consultation list doesn’s give me any confidence that mister or missus ordinary farm worker knows anything about what is going on.

Can Governments Improve Higher Education Through ‘Informing Choice’?

an article by Peter Davies (University of Birmingham) published in British Journal of Educational Studies Volume 60 Issue 3 (2012)


Over the past decade higher education policy in England has gradually switched from a stance of ‘government as purchaser’ to ‘government as informer’.

During 2012 this policy stance has been intensified through new requirements for the advice provided by schools and the introduction of ‘Key Information Sets’ which are intended to ‘drive up quality’ through informed choice.

This paper documents this policy shift and subjects it to critical scrutiny.

Monday, 29 October 2012

De-collectivization and employment problems: the experiences of minority ethnic workers seeking help through Citizens Advice

an article by Jane Holgate (University of Leeds, UK), Anna Pollert (University of West of England, UK) and Janroj Keles and Leena Kumarappan (London Metropolitan University, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 26 Number 5 (October 2012)


This article draws on a study of the experiences of (primarily non-unionised) minority ethnic workers in seeking advice and support for employment problems in the context of the de-collectivisation of employment relations in Britain.

It focuses on one of the main recourses identified in the research, the Citizens Advice Bureau, its relationship with community organisations and with trade unions.

Workers’ testimonies about their experiences of help with workplace grievances are supplemented with views of advice providers, community-based organisations and trade unionists.

Findings illuminate the specific experiences of minority ethnic workers, as well as similarities with majority ethnic non-unionised workers and highlight the paucity of individual employment advice and a growing crisis for workers’ rights with the decline in collective union representation.

Widening Participation: A Post-War Scorecard

an article by Malcolm Tight (Lancaster University) published in British Journal of Educational Studies Volume 60 Issue 3 (2012)


Widening participation – though it has only recently been labelled as such – has been a continuing concern for policy-makers and higher education institutions in the United Kingdom since 1945 (and before).

This article reviews the evidence for four key target groups
  • women,
  • lower socio-economic groups,
  • mature adults, and
  • ethnic minorities
to produce an overall assessment, a score card, of what has been achieved, and what remains to be done.

It concludes that, while progress in the recruitment of women, mature adults and ethnic minorities has been substantial – though with some qualifications – it has been much less so for lower socio-economic groups.

Costs and Benefits of Facebook for Undergraduate Students

an article by Ruti Gafni (Tel Aviv–Yaffo Academic College and Open University of Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Moran Deri (Tel Aviv–Yaffo Academic College, Tel Aviv, Israel) published in Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management Volume 7 (2012)


Originally, the Facebook network was meant for students’ use on campus, but is it worthwhile for them?

Facebook is a broad source of information for students, offering correspondence between students, providing files and information exchange, and allowing new acquaintances on campus. On the other hand, Facebook includes a variety of distractions, such as uploading pictures, viewing profiles, videos, and photos of friends, chatting with friends, and playing, which lead to procrastination and injures the learning process.

The present study was conducted in order to examine the influence of Facebook on the students’ learning process in undergraduate demanding faculties, such as engineering.

In particular, it was aimed at identifying various costs and benefits associated with the students’ use of Facebook and investigating the impact of the colleges/schools’ Facebook pages on the students’ use of Facebook for learning purposes.

A questionnaire was filled in by undergraduate students, and Facebook pages of academic institutions were examined.

Facebook was found to be particularly important among first year students, benefiting their social absorption in the campus and their learning sources, but these benefits were reduced for senior year students.

However, it was found that social activities on Facebook consumed a significant amount of the students’ time, during the surfing and even after, thus negatively affecting their learning process.

Moreover, the majority of the examined Facebook pages that were opened on the initiative of academic institutions were mostly inactive, giving no benefits to students and no incentive to use them.

Full text (PDF 17pp)

The Architecture of Information

an article by Martyn Dade-Robertson (School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University (his research group’s work can be seen at published in Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology Volume 39 Number 1 (October/November 2012)

Editor’s Summary

The relationship among architecture, information and information architecture can be thought of from the perspective of architectural prehistory.

The first instance of architecture may not have been a structure but the more conceptual designation and naming of territory, an information activity.

Early representations of digital space drew heavily on images of buildings and cities as a visual medium. As information space has evolved, the link to any physical reality has vanished, though we retain the metaphor of navigation to make real the experience of interacting with the abstract on multiple levels.

Users relate with information in semantic space, screen space and interaction space, each of which must be addressed by the information architect.

The rise of ubiquitous computing may disrupt much of that conceptualisation, leaving only an abstracted link between information and user action, with that interaction itself shaping the architectural space.

Social justice and growth: The role of the minimum wage

Pierre Laliberté

This issue of the International Journal of Labour Research (Volume 4, Issue 1 (2012)) is wholly dedicated to the question of the minimum wage, a matter that has gained in importance and profile in recent years. No doubt, the main reasons behind this rise in prominence relate to the stagnation of wages in several parts of the world, a generalized increase in earnings inequality as well as the rise in social unrest across the globe.

In many countries in the economic North where minimum wages have generally been somewhat secondary to collective bargaining for unions, the drop in union coverage and the incapacity of maintaining full employment have translated in the creation of growing pockets of low-paid workers (whether paid at minimum or quasi minimum wages), particularly in non-tradable private services.

In the South, the maintenance of large informal sectors and the concentration of the export sector in often low-paid labour-intensive supply chains where a brutal global competition exists have acted as an effective brake on the improvement in wage levels and have kept the question of the minimum wage at centre stage.

To make things worse, many governments over that same period, bowing to the orthodox notion that improving minimum wage might be an obstacle to fostering growth and employment also neglected this policy lever and often failed to maintain, let alone improve, its value, thus expanding the growing pool of the working poor.

While minimum wage setting is clearly second best to bona fide collective bargaining for all workers, its importance in the current economic context cannot be understated.

It is so in many OECD countries where the current pressures on wages, if successful, might well lay the foundations for deflation and a long period of stagnation. The pressures of the European Commission and the IMF to reduce minimum wage levels in Ireland and Greece among others are emblematic. To the contrary, in the current economic context, it should be seen as essential to preserve the minimum wage as an “anchor” so as not to fuel further destructive deflation, never mind social distress.

Furthermore, when it comes to inequality, a strong minimum wage can help make a genuine difference in outcomes. On this score, one only has to compare the performance of Germany and France to appreciate the difference. France, with arguably the highest national minimum wage in Europe, stands as one of the few countries that have not experienced an increase in inequality in the past twenty years. Germany meanwhile with no minimum wage has seen an explosion of low wage workers and the growth of inequalities in large part due to the “collapse of the bottom” of its income distribution1.

At the policy level, the issue of the minimum wage remains deeply controversial as it introduces moral considerations as to what constitutes minimal and fair compensation in a given economy and the role of minimum wage in ensuring that people earn enough through their labour to afford to sustain themselves and their families. Yet this entry of “morality” in a discipline that prides that sees itself as scientific and positivistic is always bound to be contentious especially if it goes against the “law of gravity” of neoclassical economics: a rise in price (wages) must necessarily result in a drop in demand.

However, there are sound economic reasons to question that premise.

At the theoretical level, Keynes in the General Theory has famously put forward the notion that wages as such had no tangible impact on the general level of employment, that being determined instead by the level of overall demand. As he put it, “the struggle about money-wages primarily affects the distribution of the aggregate real wage between different labour-groups”2.

The evidence in the real world appears to bear out this notion. For instance, Scandinavian countries, with notoriously low wage dispersion (and high sectoral minimum wages) have typically outperformed countries with different sets of institutions and bargaining arrangements, but with lower minimum wages and greater wage dispersion3.

Of course, relatively high minimum wages and low wage dispersion do have effects on the social outcomes, the economy and employment. But whether those are positive or negative depends on a combination of factors such as changes in relative prices, in the wage structure, demand, profits, productivity, but also social cohesion4. The bottom line is that there is much more room for discretion in these matters than typically admitted by mainstream economists and in some quarters of the business community5.

Quite tellingly the plethora of studies (and meta-studies) that have been conducted on the effect of increases of minimum wages on employment are for the most part inconclusive, in the sense that they do not confirm the predicted negative relationship. As one would reasonably expect, the results depend on the specific context in which the studies were conducted (let alone their methodology)6.

This is why such matters should naturally be the object of social debate and negotiations between social partners.

The erosion of the role of the minimum wage as the guardian of the purchasing power of the lowest-paid workers has been the trigger of numerous campaigns and much resistance throughout the world. It has notably inspired many local grass-roots campaigns in the United States around the notion of “living wages” where labour and community groups have been working side by side for the improvement of workers’ income. In this issue, Stephanie Luce provides a comprehensive and extremely useful assessment of these campaigns and the lessons they hold for the labour movement.

In other countries, changes have come through other avenues. In Brazil notably, trade unions pressured the incoming Lula Government in the early 2000s into a renewed commitment to a minimum wage, which translated into a gradual improvement and recovery of the value of the minimum wage. Not only did vigorous increases in the real value of the minimum wage not provoke economic slowdown, but the redistribution of income that ensued is partially credited for fuelling the dynamism of the Brazilian economy. The article by Barbosa de Melo, Figueiredo, Mineiro and Arbulu Mendonça gives us a historical perspective on the development of the minimum wage in that country as well as its current impact. A useful antidote to orthodox prescriptions.

Bhattacharjee and Roy, for their part, present a path-breaking effort to establish a cross-country floor for wages. This campaign, the Asian Floor Wage, aims to create a common “real” wage floor for workers in the same labour-intensive export industries, more specifically the garment industry. The idea is quite simple and yet revolutionary – that the wage earned by workers in the same industries across the region should earn roughly the same “purchasing power” so as to not undermine each other and, to some extent, take wage out of the competition. If successful, this effort at creating strategic links of solidarity between workers on a living wage would assuredly be a watershed moment for international labour.

Remaining in Asia, the article by Rani and Belser on India highlights the original role played by the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in helping enforce minimum wage in a country where the great majority of the workforce is still found in the informal sector. This scheme, by guaranteeing one hundred days of work per year at the minimum wage for all rural households, is in effect providing “traction” to the minimum wage that it might not have otherwise, creating an upward pressure on earnings, particularly those of women, and improving household income. This is an “employer of last resort” programme that should draw much interest, particularly in countries with a large informal sector.

In his article, Thorsten Schulten presents the current debate on the establishment of a European minimum wage. Noting that the European Commission, through its Euro-Plus Pact, has “officially declared [wages to be] the main adjustment variable for economic imbalances and national competitiveness in Europe” and that it is now engaging in a full offensive to roll back minimum wages as part of the “crisis packages”, Schulten proposes the notion of a European minimum wage as a component of an alternative strategy. As he points out, this notion already has a basis in the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe which calls for a minimum wage of 60 per cent of the national average net wage. It is worth noting that in 2010 only five European States met that threshold…

Last but not least, in keeping with the practical bent of this issue of the IJLR, Belser and Sobeck provide a succinct guide to minimum wage setting methodology. Using the knowledge and experience the ILO has gained surveying and advising social partners across the world, they lay out some of the considerations labour and community representatives should have in mind when they push governments and employers on that all-important issue. In full agreement with the notion that at its best a national minimum wage should be the subject of social dialogue and not seen as a “technical” matter, they nonetheless provide tools that will be useful for those engaged in national discussion on the issue.


Footnotes: with apologies for not linking properly (my HTML knowledge is not up to it in Blogger)
1. See ILO: Global Wage Report 2008–09 (Geneva, 2008).
2. J.M. Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (London, Macmillan, 1936), p. 13.
3. It is also worth noting that in economies with significant underemployment, lowering the price of labour might actually induce an increase in supply as workers need to work more to survive.
4. For a most cogent explanation of this argument, see H. Herr: “Labour Market in a Keynesian Economic Regime: Theoretical Debate and Empirical Findings”, in Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 33 (2009), pp. 949–965.
5. Robert Lucas, one of the most prominent conservative economists, is exemplary of the hostility to pollute economics with ethical concerns. As he put it: “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution…” Robert E. Lucas: ”The industrial revolution: Past and future,” in The Region (May 2004), Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, pp. 5–20.
6. See for instance R. Dickens, S. Machin and A. Manning: “The effects of minimum wages on employment: Theory and evidence from Britain,” in Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, Vol. 17 (1999), No. 1, pp. 1–22; D. Card and A.B. Krueger: Myth and measurement. The new economics of the minimum wage (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1995).

Full text (PDF 128pp)


11  Living wage policies and campaigns: Lessons from the United
      Stephanie Luce
27  Rescuing the minimum wage as a tool for development in
      Frederico Luiz Barbosa de Melo, Ademir Figueiredo,
      Adhemar S. Mineiro and Sérgio Eduardo Arbulu Mendonça
45   The effectiveness of minimum wages in developing countries:
      The case of India
      Uma Rani and Patrick Belser
67  Asia Floor Wage and global industrial collective bargaining
      Anannya Bhattacharjee and Ashim Roy
85  European minimum wage policy: A concept for wage-led
      growth and fair wages in Europe
      Thorsten Schulten
105 At what level should countries set their minimum wages?
      Patrick Belser and Kristen Sobeck

Changes in the economy, the labor market, and expectations for the future: What might Europe and the United States look like in twenty-five years?

an article by Sandra Buchholz and Hans-Peter Blossfeld (University of Bamberg, Germany) published in New Directions for Youth Development Volume 2012 Issue 135 (Autumn/fall 2012)


In times of globalisation, modern societies’ labour markets have been marked by an increasing segmentation and growing social inequality. Youths in particular have experienced a worsening of their employment chances in the past three decades.

However, what will the future bring?

Hazel’s comment:
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the abstracts in this publication are so scanty as there are several articles in this issue that look potentially interesting.

The endogenous nature of the measurement of social preferences

an article by John Smith (affiliations(s) not provided) published in Mind & Society Volume 11 Number 2 (2012)


We present evidence against the standard assumptions that social preferences are stable and can be measured in a reliable, nonintrusive manner. We find evidence that measures of social preferences can affect subsequent behaviour.

Researchers often measure social preferences by posing dictator type allocation decisions. The social value orientation (SVO) is a particular sequence of dictator decisions.

We vary the order in which the SVO and a larger stakes dictator game are presented. We also vary the form of the dictator game.

In one study, we employ the standard dictator game, and in the other, we employ a nonstandard dictator game. With the standard dictator game, we find that prosocial subjects act even more prosocially when the SVO is administered first, whereas selfish subjects are unaffected by the order.

With the nonstandard dictator game, we find evidence across all subjects that those who first receive the SVO are more generous in the dictator game but we do not find the effect among only the generous subjects.

Across both dictator game forms, we find evidence that the subjects who are first given the SVO were more generous than subjects who are given the SVO last. We also find that this effect is stronger among the subjects with a perfectly consistent SVO measure.

Although we cannot determine whether the order affects preferences or the measure of preferences, our results are incompatible with the assumptions that social preferences are stable and can be measured in a reliable, nonintrusive manner.

JEL Classifications: C91, D64, Z13

NEETS: Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe

a report (Ref: ef1254) by Massimiliano Mascherini, Lidia Salvatore, Anja Meierkord and Jean-Marie Jungblut (Eurofound1) from Publications Office of the European Union, 2012, pubslihed 22 October

The economic crisis has severely damaged the employment prospects of young people in Europe, and their employment rate is now at the lowest level ever. To better capture the extent of economic inactivity among the young, the concept of NEET – not in employment, education or training – has been developed.

This report analyses the labour market situation of young people in Europe, with a specific focus on the NEET group. It examines the determinants of belonging to the NEET group, and measures the economic and social costs of NEETs.

It also assesses how Member States through policies and interventions have sought to support young people to gain a foothold in the labour market. It shows that successful policy initiatives address specific, disadvantaged subgroups in the NEET population. They are client-centred in their efforts to set young people on a pathway to long-term, sustainable employment and they are innovative, adopting new ways of reaching a target group.

1The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite EU body, whose role is to provide key actors in social policy-making with findings, knowledge and advice drawn from comparative research.

Full report (PDF 171pp)

Summary (Ref: ef12541) (PDF 2pp)

Supporting effective transitions from school to work

an article by Sarah Robinson (Principal of Stoke on Trent College, part of the 157 Group organisation) published in

The conventional wisdom is that practice follows policy; strategic decisions are taken at the centre and practitioners duly implement change. On this view to understand the future one needs to read White Papers and Ministers’ speeches, and keep an eye on Whitehall.

In reality however things often happen the other way round: it is leading edge practice that shapes the future and policy makers struggle to catch up. To understand the way things are moving one really needs to look at what is happening on the ground.

Continue reading from

A 157 Group Policy Paper Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges by Mick Fletcher (PDF 24pp) is available here

Sunday, 28 October 2012

10 curious, or maybe educative, items to relax with today

The sun is round. Very, very, very round.
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 584 Cache Twin-Prom-Sun 58429 600X450
The sun is the roundest natural object known to humans, according to new research. University of Hawaii researcher Jeffrey Kuhn and his colleagues used NASA’s space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory to precisely measure the sun’s shape. A precise understanding of the sun’s roundness and the factors that shift its shape, such as sub-surface turbulence, could shed new light on changes in the Earth's climate.

From National Geographic:
If the sun were a meter-wide (3.3-foot-wide) beach ball, Kuhn said, the variation in the sun’s shape from the highest to the lowest point would be about 17 microns – less than the width of a fine human hair, according to the SDO measurements…
Study leader Kuhn said his team is going to update computer models of the sun’s cycle to see if and how the highly accurate shape affects their behaviour.
“We’re not done with measurements, though. We need to follow a full 11-year solar cycle to make sure the sun isn’t fooling us,” Kuhn said. “By doing that we can improve the accuracy even further.”
Sun Is Roundest Natural Object Known

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Many tales in the Arabian Nights were born far from Arabia. Like the genie, they took on magical new forms under new masters... more

Venture Inside of Quebec’s Garden of Decaying Books
via Flavorwire by Caroline Stanley
Berlin landscape architect Thilo Folkerts and Canadian artist Rodney LaTourelle designed the Jardin de la Connaissance back in 2010 as an installation for the International Festival des Jardins de Metis in Quebec. As time passed, the some 40,000 books and wood plates making up the walls of their garden have decayed and dissolved, while new life has also found its way in to the space. “Seedlings and insects have activated the walls, carpets, and benches,” explain its creators. “Mushrooms – those cultivated and those who have come by themselves – have made the garden their home. Many of the originally bright colours of the books have faded. Culture is fading back into nature.” For the next phase of their project, Folkerts and LaTourelle plan to use moss from the surrounding forest to create a graffiti effect on the structures’ walls.

Click through to check out some additional photos of their work-in-progress, and let us know in the comments what you think of the concept.
Does it bother you to see books used in this manner?

20 Famous Bow Tie Lovers
via Flavorwire by Alison Nastasi
We didn’t think it was possible to like Bill Nye the Science Guy more than we already did. After watching a video featuring the educator and Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick getting a lesson in the art of the bow tie, however, we can wholeheartedly profess our eternal love for all things Nye and necktie. The Disney/PBS children’s show host – a frequent wearer of bow ties – advises Hardwick to “dress the knot, snuggify, pull it tightical, and pay attentiontivity to the bow tieical” in order to properly sport the iconic accessory.
The bow tie has a long history of living around the necks of individuals who weren’t afraid to buck trends and make a statement. Donning a bow tie is a polite defiance by a dapper rebel.
The list includes:
  • Gore Vidal
  • Winston Churchill
  • Fred Astaire
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Manolo Blahnik
  • Pee-wee Herman
  • Alfred Kinsey
  • Penguin
  • Aleister Crowley
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Steve Jobs
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Orville Redenbacher
  • Bela Lugosi as Dracula
  • Krusty the Klown
  • Hercule Poirot
  • Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor’s Julius Kelp
  • Doctor Who
  • Stan Laurel
  • Karl Lagerfeld
The issue now is to settle on just one picture out of that long list. And it has to be this one!

View the rest here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
So only now does everything seem to be for sale? In medieval churches, aisle chapels were as likely to be named for bankers as for saints... more

Thanks to the Walk You Home blog for this piece of nonsense!
“Lacking a critical vocabulary as well as those non-commodified public spaces necessary for young people and adults to defend those institutions crucial to a democracy, the American public finds it more difficult to acknowledge and understand how the growth of individual freedom under consumerism coincides with the growth of collective impotence. Put differently, the language of market-driven individualism is used to unleash and legitimate what Herbert Marcuse once called all those ‘forces of brutal self-interest which the democratic countries have tried to curb and tried to combine with the interest of freedom’”. Henry Giroux (2003). The Abandoned Generation
If you scroll down the blog you will find lots of interesting things – including kittens!

Slow Bridge: 1908
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Slow Bridge: 1908
Circa 1908
“Arch bridge, Bellows Falls, Vermont”
Note the $5 fine for speeders
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Brothers Grimm, 18th-century terrorists, savoured violence in their art. Toes are chopped off, severed fingers fly through the air. The fairy tales validate our own fears... more

Rare and Remarkable: Fore-Edge Paintings on Books
via Reading Copy Book Blog by Beth Carswell
Books are secretive objects, only revealing their true worth when opened, perused and read. In the 16th century, artists began using the outer edge of books, the edge a reader uses to thumb through the pages, as canvas, adding a beautiful painting to the outside of a book. These were called fore-edge paintings.
In the 17th century, others took the practice a step further by discovering that if the painting was added to the slight inner edges of the pages, and the absolute edge was gilded or marbled, the scene would be undetectable when the book was closed, and only reveal itself when the pages were fanned slightly, creating a disappearing, re-appearing masterpiece.
We’ve put together 27 of the most gorgeous examples of books with fore-edge paintings we could find, so have a look. There’s a video, too, showing a fanned fore-edge in action. These are books you definitely can’t judge by their covers – have a look at what lies inside, and marvel at the artistry of these stunning works.
Here’s my choice
The Faerie Queen: The Shepheard's Calendar by Edmund Spenser
To see rest of the ones that Beth has assembled, including the video, you will need to go here.

What Cricket Looks Like to Americans
via The Scholarly Kitchen by Kent Anderson

Yes, American baseball is a subtle game full of grass, dirt, leather, and wood. But if you're a cricket fan, it can be downright bewildering. This video will show you how we feel about cricket.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Some stupendous stuff for Saturday

Networking: 1905
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Networking: 1905
Gloucester, Massachusetts, circa 1905
“Fisherman getting ready for a trip”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The artist installs apps in Macs at an Apple store for a work called “People Staring at Computers”. Then the Secret Service rings his doorbell and assumes the role of critic...  more

10 Unsolved Mysteries of the ‘Harry Potter’ Universe
via Flavorwire by Heba Hasan
Today [this was published on 31 July] marks the birthday of two very important characters in 21st-century popular culture: Harry Potter and his creator, J.K. Rowling. Whether you consider the Harry Potter series a classic for the ages, a guilty, mind-candy read, or an over-hyped amateur attempt at children’s literature, you can’t argue that the books fail to create a well-realized alternate reality. Rowling crafts a whole universe that is stunningly complex, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some quirks about the magical wizarding world that still don’t entirely make sense to us.

What do wizards read for fun?
Do people read literature in Harry Potter?
Fiction books are rarely mentioned in the series, and none of the characters seem to read novels. We understand that a majority of teenage students aren’t prone to pick up Chaucer just for the fun of it, but you would think a bookworm like Hermione would occasionally peruse Dickens, especially since other forms of entertainment, such as television and computers, aren’t common in the magical world. The other questions, which you can read here together with their picture and bit of blurb, are listed below.
How can wizards co-exist with Christianity?
Why is Harry Potter so Eurocentric?
Why does Harry still wear glasses?
What do magical kids do before they’re 11?
How did Hagrid’s conception work?
What’s the deal with the Hufflepuff mascot?
Do Muggle parents worry about their magical children?
Is Voldemort asexual?
Why is the magical realm so technologically backwards?

The Most Bizarre Water Parks in the World
via Flavorwire by Claire Cottrell
Having spotted this once-glorious Olympic venue re-imagined as a Wonka-fied water park dubbed the Happy Magic Water Cube, giving a second life to an international showpiece that had quietly fallen into disuse by bringing a fantastical variation of a day at the beach to the landlocked residents of Beijing, we couldn’t help but wonder what other wet, wacky parks exist in the world.
The original Imagineer and creator of the happiest place on Earth, Walt Disney, once said that “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible”. Surely the bizarre water parks of the world are testament to that statement. From a giant King Cobra water slide meant to mimic sliding down a snake’s slippery back to the most crowded wave pools in the world to lazy rivers in a land before time, click through to check out the strangest feats of aquatic, pleasure-seeking imaginations around the globe.
See the pictures here bizarre is not a sufficiently strong word to describe some of these places!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A young psychologist’s research on brain activity proves useful in planning military attacks. Does he have a problem with that?... more

Olympic Moments: 1956 – Hungary vs. USSR
from Britannica by Gregory McNamee
Held in Melbourne, Australia, the 1956 Olympic Games coincided with one of the signal events of Cold War history: the Soviet invasion of Hungary and its repression of a popular anticommunist revolution. During the month-long uprising, thousands of Hungarian freedom fighters were killed; in the following months, nearly 200,000 Hungarians fled their country, most to the United States and Western Europe.
Hungary’s Olympic team was swept up by these events, with part of the squad bound for Australia on a Soviet ship and another part awaiting air transit in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Hungarian water polo team, which had won the gold medal in the 1952 Games, arrived with the first contingent and, anxious to prove itself, immediately set about defeating every squad that came before it.
Continue reading (includes a video which beautifully illustrates the changes that have taken place in sports broadcasting)

Why We Don't Like Seeing Photographs of Ourselves
from Big Think by Orion Jones
You know the feeling. You’ve been tagged in a Facebook photo, but that person with a contorted face only bares a passing a resemblance to the person you know from the bathroom mirror each morning.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In 1965, well before Stonewall, New York cops put aside their own prejudice to bust an exortion ring that preyed on prominent gay men... more

How Neuroscience Could Spoil Our Sense of Justice
from Big Think by Orion Jones
Greater scientific literacy is urgently needed given the increasing influence neuroscientific studies have over our legal system, sometimes determining the extent of a suspect's culpability.
Read More

Gorgeous Photographs of Forgotten Palaces
from Flavorwire by Emily Temple

Paris-based photographer Thomas Jorion is a treasure hunter, photographing urban ruins and giving new life to dying buildings. In his wonderful series Forgotten Palaces, which we first spotted over at Faith is Torment, Jorion captures abandoned and decaying villas and castles in Switzerland, Italy and Germany, their splendor shining dimly through the rubble, reminding us that no beauty is meant to last, but rather transforms as time goes on. Click through to see a few of our favorites from the series, and then be sure to head over to Jorion’s website to check out even more of his work.

Friday, 26 October 2012

It's Friday afternoon: you can relax with some interesting items

Every Harry Potter Chapter Illustration Collected in One Lovely Poster
via FlavorWire by Emily Temple

We don’t know about you, but when we read the Harry Potter series for the first time, we always paused over those delicate pencil illustrations that headed every chapter, peering into them, little clues as to what our favourite characters would be forced to deal with next – be it three headed dogs or first kisses. Still, we were surprised by how much we loved this chronological collection of Mary GrandPré’s illustrations, which tell the whole Harry Potter saga, from bassinet to epilogue, in gentle strokes. It’s like watching our own childhoods as well as Harry’s.
Now if only someone would make this into a real poster that we could buy. [via Vulture]

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The creator of The Norton Anthology of English Literature spoke only Yiddish until he was 5. Now about to turn 100, M.H. Abrams still has plenty to say... more

Why one mutation can protect people from HIV
by Maggie Koerth-Baker via Boing Boing

We’ve talked here before about the importance of the protein CCR5 in HIV/AIDS treatment research. CCR5 is a protein on the surface of immune cells. Some people have a genetic mutation, called Delta-32, which alters how that protein works, how often it appears, or changes its structure. People with the mutation have immunity to some strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
CCR5 is the key to the Berlin Patient — Timothy Ray Brown — who, until recently, was the only person to ever be cured of AIDS. Brown received bone marrow transplants from people who had the Delta-32 mutation. His body has been HIV-free for five years. And, last week, researchers announced that two other people successfully received the same treatment.
But here’s the thing, until today, I didn’t totally understand how the connection between CCR5, Delta-32, and HIV worked. There’s a story (and some great digital illustrations) on NPR’s Shots blog that makes the situation much more clear. HIV, apparently, have little spikes all over its surface. These spikes are how the virus injects itself into cells.

When it bumps into a T cell, a finger-like projection on the cell’s surface, called CCR5, pushes down on the spike. This interaction pops open the HIV and releases the infectious genes into the cell. A gene therapy could protect T cells by inactivating the CCR5 gene.
Great “A-ha!” moment for me. Read the rest of the story and look at the illustrations. It’ll make some thing make a lot more sense.
Read the rest at NPR's Shots blog

Looking Down: 1905
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Looking Down: 1905
Dutchess County, New York, circa 1905
“Mount Beacon Incline Railway, looking down, Fishkill-on-the-Hudson”
8x10 inch glass negative
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Computers are dumb. Of course, they’re also necessary. But as we increasingly shape our lives to accommodate computers, their dumbness will become ours... more

The graffiti of Pompeii
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: Pompeii, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from editor’s photostream
Pompeii is the city frozen in time. Which means that nobody ever came through and cleaned up all the (often incredibly dirty) ancient Roman graffiti (or added their own, more modern, stuff).
So, what you find is a really cool time capsule of the way random, average puellae et pueri talked, at least in certain situations. This is colloquial Latin, and that’s not something we get many chances to see.
It’s also hilarious. I’ve seen some of these examples of Pompeiian graffiti over the years, but, as far as I’m concerned, it never gets old.
Check them out at the Pompeiana website [possibly not safe for work]
For more about average Roman life, I really recommend Terry Jones’ documentary The Hidden History of Rome. You can watch it streaming on Netflix. It’s a great overview of the little bits that we know about how non-elites lived thousands of years ago.
Via The Nation

Before she was Lauren, c.1944
via Retronaut by Chris

Would she have done as well if she'd kept her original first name?

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What made George Orwell tick? Being an amateur anthropologist, understanding things – poverty and squalor, politics, himself – at the level of basic experience... more

A video of Rudyard Kipling speaking on truth & writing in 1933
via Pages & Proofs by Richard Davies

Rudyard Kipling had substantial eyebrows. See the great man speaking in 1933 on how the “educated classes” should behave.

Elizabeth Taylor as a ballerina, 1951

via Retronaut by Amanda
You can see Amanda's other choices here

Knowledge work: gender-blind or gender-biased?

an article by Catherine Truss (University of Kent, UK), Edel Conway, Gráinne Kelly, Kathy Monks and Patrick C Flood (Dublin City University, Ireland), Alessia d’Amato (London School of Economics, UK) and Enda Hannon (Kingston University, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 26 Number 5 (October 2012)


Knowledge-intensive firms (KIFs) have been the subject of growing interest from researchers. However, investigations into the comparative experiences of men and women in KIFs remain sparse, and little is known about women’s participation in the processes of innovation and knowledge exchange and combination that are core features of KIFs.

The article reports on the findings of a study in the UK and Ireland involving 498 male and female knowledge workers in KIFs.

Despite equal levels of qualification and experience, women are more likely to be in lower status and less secure jobs. They also predominantly occupy roles featuring less variety and autonomy than men and, despite comparable levels of knowledge exchange and combination, are less likely to be in a position to translate this into the innovative work behaviours necessary for career advancement.

The findings suggest that women’s experiences of and participation in knowledge processes within KIFs differ fundamentally from men’s.

Euro area government debt up to 90.0% of GDP

via Eurostat News releases

At the end of the second quarter of 2012, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA17) stood at 90.0%, compared with 88.2% at the end of the first quarter of 2012.

In the EU27 the ratio increased from 83.5% to 84.9%. Compared with the second quarter of 2011, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area (from 87.1% to 90.0%) and the EU27 (from 81.4% to 84.9%).

These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Full statistical release (PDF 4pp)

The Statistics Newsletter - Issue No. 57, October 2012

In this issue:
  • Re-engineering the Japanese Statistical System (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan);
  • Be a Part of the Future ABS: Collaborating with the Public to Enhance the Future of ABS Online (ABS);
  • A Long-Standing Statistical Cooperation Program with China (Statistics Canada);
  • Some Findings Based on Option Prices during the Financial Crisis (ECB);
  • Conclusions from OECD SDMX Experts Meeting, Paris 13th - 14th September 2012 (OECD);
  • OECD Financial Dashboard (OECD);
  • MOFCOM-WTO-UNCTAD-OECD Conference on Global Value Chains in the 21st Century: Policy Implications on Trade, Investment, Statistics and Developing Countries - 19th-20th September 2012, Beijing (OECD).
Full text (PDF 23pp)

Multiple Glass Ceilings

an article by Giovanni Russo (CEDEFOP, Bonn, Germany) and Wolter Hassink (Utrecht University, the Netherlands and IZA, Bonn, Germany) published in Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society Volume 51 Issue 4 (October 2012)


Both vertical (between job levels) and horizontal (within job levels) mobility can be sources of wage growth.

We find that the glass ceiling operates at both margins.

The unexplained part of the wage gap grows across job levels (glass ceiling at the vertical margin) and across the deciles of the intra-job-level wage distribution (glass ceiling at the horizontal margin).

This implies that women face many glass ceilings, one for each job level above the second, and that the glass ceiling is a pervasive phenomenon.

In the Netherlands it affects about 88 percent of jobs, and 81 percent of Dutch women in employment work in job levels where a glass ceiling is present.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Why joy in education is an issue for socially just policies

an article by Morwenna Griffith (University of Edinburgh, UK) published in Journal of Education Policy Volume 27 Issue 5 (September 2012)


The paper presents an argument that the usual account of social justice in formal education is too narrow. That account concerns itself only with the outcomes of education or only with general ethical precepts, such as ‘recognition’.

I argue that it should also concern itself with living educational experiences as part of what makes a good life.

I begin by noting that people find value in education for three linked but analytically separable reasons which I label: instrumental, inherent and integral.

The last of these focuses on the value of education as part of what it is to live a good life.

I point out how the usual accounts of social justice in education are seldom concerned with specifically educational experiences within formal education and that there is little clarity about the contribution of such experiences to living a good life.

I offer a provisional account of specifically educational goods in experiences of education, and compare this to research and policy on enjoyment and engagement concluding that the significance of joy in education should be recognised within education policy.

What’s wrong with this picture? The case of access to information requests in two continental federal states – Germany and Switzerland

an article by Sarah Holsen (Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration, Lausanne) published in Public Policy and Administration Volume 27 Number 4 (October 2012)


More than 80 access to information (ATI) laws exist worldwide. Their primary objectives are to increase transparency and accountability in government. Given the similarity in the components of ATI laws across countries, one could expect per capita usage of the laws to be roughly similar.

However, comparing the number of requests in seven countries, we found that far fewer requests are being made in Switzerland and Germany than in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, India, and the UK and that, in contrast to these five, the number is not increasing.

Drawing on 28 semi-structured interviews with experts on the Swiss Law on Transparency (LTrans) and German FOI Law (IFG), we offer three primary explanations for the low use of the laws.

The first is that few people are aware of the law in either country as a consequence of little promotion of the laws.

The second is that people might have more interest in information held at the state or local level than at the federal level.

The third is that other avenues to information in Switzerland reduce interest in using the LTrans and a culture of “amtsgeheimnis”, or official secrecy, in Germany inhibits the administration from willingly disclosing information.

We examine these hypotheses against the situation in the UK, where awareness of the FOI law is known to be high and the number of requests is high and has been on the rise for the past four years.

Governance and Poverty Eradication: applying a gender and social institutions perspective

an article by Nicola Jones and Elizabeth Presler-Marshall (Overseas Development Institute, UK) published in Public Administration and Development Volume 32 Issue 4-5 (October-December 2012)


Recently, there has been growing attention to the need to include girls (and boys) more prominently in poverty reduction and development agendas.

How to do this effectively, however, remains an under-researched subject, especially in debates around chronic poverty, that is, the experience of severe, multidimensional poverty for an extended period of time.

Although the Chronic Poverty Research Centre has spotlighted the often overlooked social and non-income dimensions of poverty traps, including social discrimination and limited citizenship, in general scholarship has paid relatively limited attention to the interplay between gender, poverty reduction and governance institutions.

To address this lacuna, this article draws on recent research by the Chronic Poverty Research Centre and the Overseas Development Institute that highlights the key role context-specific social institutions play in informing and determining the life opportunities and agency of girls and young women. To more effectively address the governance challenges involved in tackling such deprivations, the article discusses three key measures that can support the eradication of gendered experiences of poverty:
  • the importance of involving local community leaders,
  • working with men and boys to raise awareness about girls’ and women’s rights, and
  • promoting collective action and voice among girls and young women.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Career transitions and career success in the ‘new’ career era

an article by Katharina Chudzikowski (Interdisciplinary Group for Management and Organizational Behavior, Vienna, Austria) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 81 Issue 2 (October 2012)


The ‘new’ career, most notably the boundaryless career, is associated with high career mobility, which is in turn associated with employability and career success of individuals.

The current study examined how frequency, form (organisational, horizontal or vertical) and impact (objective career success) of career transitions have changed across two cohorts of Austrian business graduates (1970 and 1990) throughout the first 15 years of their careers (n = 291).

Data for the study were collected by way of standardised questionnaires; participants’ career transitions (n = 807) were plotted based on curriculum-vitae type lists of their successive jobs. This research examined two assumptions: (1) that careers have become more turbulent and complex and (2) that this is generally a positive evolution for individuals.

Results indicate that overly dramatic claims about the ‘death’ of the traditional-organisational career need to be reconsidered.


► This study examined frequency, form and impact of career transitions in two cohorts.
► This research examined if careers have become more turbulent and complex.
► It examined if the ‘new’ career is generally a positive evolution for individuals.
► Career transitions in the ‘new’ career era showed less wage increase.
► Dramatic claims about the ‘death’ of the traditional career need to be reconsidered.

Determinants of information retweeting in microblogging

an article by Zhiming Liu, Lu Liu,and Hong Li (Beihang University, Beijing, China) published in Internet Research Volume 22 Issue 4 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual model to investigate the determinants of information retweeting in microblogging based on Heuristic-Systematic Model.
Microblogging data about emergency events from Sina microblogging ( are collected and analyzed with text mining technology. The proposed hypotheses are tested with logistic and multiple linear regressions.
The results show that source trustworthiness, source expertise, source attractiveness, and the number of multimedia have significant effects on the information retweeting. In addition, source expertise moderates the effects of user trustworthiness and content objectivity on the information retweeting in microblogging.
Practical implications
This study provides an in-depth understanding of what makes information about emergency events in microblogging diffuse so rapidly. Based on these findings the emergency management organizations in China can apply the microblogging to spread useful information, and these findings also provide practical implications for microblogging system designers.
The primary value of this paper lies in providing a better understanding of information retweeting in microblogging based on Heuristic-Systematic Model. Organizations that would like to adopt the microblogging platform in emergency situations to improve the ability of emergency response can benefit from the findings of this study.

Hazel’s comment:
This is probably of less relevance to careers practitioners than it is to librarians. Twitter abounds in librarians, most careers professionals using social media seem to be using LinkedIn.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Re-engaging marginalised young people in learning: the contribution of informal learning and community-based collaborations

an article by Debra Hayes (The University of Sydney, Australia) published in Journal of Education Policy Volume 27 Issue 5 (September 2012)


In the twenty-first century, a socially just system of schooling prepares all young people to adapt to new technologies, and participate in a global economy that is highly differentiated at the local level.

In Australia and other countries where local markets have become heavily dependent on service economies, ‘working-class’ families are less able to exchange their labour for low-paid wages in factories and other industries, and they are more dependent on education and its accrediting authority than they have been in the past.

At the same time, the influence of markets on education has allocated schools to these families, which operate under the least favourable conditions and produce weak outcomes.

This paper illustrates how enterprising community collaborations can ameliorate some of these effects. It outlines relevant research about young people who do not complete school, and it describes the implementation of a learning programme in inner Sydney as a means of explicating some of the conditions required to re-engage young people in learning.

It is argued that a socially just system of schooling assists young people to construct life narratives in which they are able to chart their way through and around problems, and accumulate the skills, knowledge and dispositions they need to access the formal economy.

Workplace bullying and organizational culture in a post-transitional country

an article by Merle Tambur (Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia) and Maaja Vadi (University of Tartu, Estonia) published in International Journal of Manpower Volume 33 Issue 7 (2012)


The aim of the study is to explore how organizational culture influences occurrences of workplace bullying in Estonia as a post-transitional country. Another objective is to produce comprehensive empirical evidence of bullying in the specific cultural context.
The survey is based on the internationally well-known research instrument, the Negative Acts Questionnaire Revised (NAQ-R) (Mikkelsen and Einarsen) and the Questionnaire of Organizational Culture (QOC) (Vadi et al.).
Victims of bullying: 22 percent – at least one negative act per week; 9.3 percent – at least two negative acts per week; 0.6 percent – by definition (several times per week or daily); 8 percent – by definition (occasionally). The results reveal a clear negative relationship between bullying and task and relationship orientation of organizational culture.
Practical implications
The present study indicates clear factors at the organizational level where the preventive actions are needed to diminish the negative impact of bullying on employee's well-being and encourages a discussion and further studies of workplace bullying in post-transitional countries.
In Estonia and in other post-transitional countries workplace bullying has not yet been studied closely. This study provides a comprehensive approach of workplace bullying related to organizational culture in a post-transitional country.

Pupil and teacher perceptions of community action: an English context

an article by Ian Durrant, Andrew Peterson, Elizabeth Hoult and Linda Leith (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK) published in Educational Research Volume 54 Issue 3 (September 2012)


In England over the last two decades, there has been a growing interest in the role of English schools in developing, facilitating and supporting young people’s community participation. A number of policy initiatives have sought to build the capacity and opportunities for youth participation. Research suggests, however, that pupils and schools are often prohibited by significant barriers from becoming involved with community activities, particularly those that might occur beyond the school environment itself. In March 2010, the UK Labour government launched a Youth Community Action initiative for England, piloted across five local authorities, which aimed to involve young people of 14–16 years of age in community action. Following the UK general election in May 2010, the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government terminated these pilots but was quick to announce the launch and piloting of a National Citizen Service for 16–19-year-olds in England.
Drawing on research conducted with participants in one Youth Community Action pilot project, the aim of this study was to explore the perceptions and understandings of young people regarding their involvement in community action activities and how this compared with the perceptions and understandings of the teachers responsible for co-ordinating such activities.
In the final synthesis, the sample comprised 614 pupil questionnaires, representing a response rate of 24% of the pupils in the nine participating schools. Eleven semi-structured interviews and one focus group interview were conducted with pupils in six of the schools, with a further eight semi-structured interviews conducted with teachers in these six schools.
Design and methods
A questionnaire was administered to pupils participating in the Youth Community Action pilot, enabling an exploration of self-reported behavioural attitudes and perceptions. The data collected was analysed thematically, with an identification of common themes in responses. In addition, factor analysis and a series of chi-squared tests of association were carried out. The use of semi-structured interviews, the data from which were analysed thematically, enabled a qualitative exploration of pupils’ and teachers’ self-reported perceptions of community action activities.
The findings of our questionnaires report that those pupils who know more about their local neighbourhood and community are likely to report greater levels of concern for what happens within it. This suggests that pupils’ learning about their neighbourhoods and community is likely to be beneficial toward developing affective attachments to them. For the pupils in our data set, simply possessing pro-social behaviours and attitudes was not a sufficient or necessary condition for their community awareness and involvement. It suggests that, at least for a notable number of pupils, active engagement in the community requires cultivation and learning beyond pro-social behaviours. The semi-structured interviews report that pupils identify the school as the key source of information about community engagement opportunities, but also indicate that there is a marked difference in the activities that teachers identify their pupils as having undertaken, and the ability of pupils to vocalise these themselves. A further notable finding was a focus on the practical (time, distance, age constraints) and social (peer pressure) barriers to community action activities to the exclusion of specifically educational (lack of understanding and skills) barriers.
Results from this study suggest that schools represent an important source for pupils’ community involvement, but that in our sample pupils often lack the vocabulary with which to explain the extent and nature of such engagement. Pupils and teachers identify a range of barriers to and benefits of community involvement, but these do not include a lack of understanding or skills. The research raises important questions in the context of recent policy trends in England.

Influencing citizen behaviours to achieve policy outcomes: From the bottom up

a research paper published by Deloitte in October 20120


Governments seek to help citizens make the right choices such as to recycle, to eat healthily, to stop smoking, or to read to our children.

This paper examines case studies of some organisations that have effectively used behavioural approaches to influence people to make choices, and illustrates how these approaches could help central and local government in the UK.

Full report (PDF 28pp)

Warning: This document has a lot of colour and took ages to download.