There’s a lot of interest at the moment in how living standards have changed over time, especially in the UK and the US. But how do living standards compare across countries at a single point in time? By any measure, the UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, belonging to a select club of nations in which living standards are very high by global standards. But how does it compare to the other members of the club?
Gini coefficients before and after housing costs from 1961, courtesy of the IFS http://www.ifs.org.uk/fiscalFacts/povertyStats I've knocked this chart together in response to a tweet from Alex Andreou, according to which the PM has claimed that inequality is at its lowest level since 1986. That's not the case on this data, nor on any of the ten other inequality measures on the IFS's spreadsheet, so I've no idea what the PM is on about.
A building in the Campo San Alvise, Cannaregio, Venice taken in September. I was attracted to it by the sheer implausibility of the facade. To provide some kind of anchoring, I opted for trying to get the doorway roughly perpendicular, which means virtually nothing else is.
In fracking, fissures in underground shale are blasted open by injecting a combination of liquid, sand and chemicals under high pressure to release the natural gas which is dispersed in small quantities throughout the rock. I don’t know enough about the process and its potential risks to take a strong view on the subject ( I totally pilfered that description from a couple of web articles). But it offers a near-irresistable metaphor for the Conservatives' 2015 electoral strategy (the one they’ve been following since June 2010).
How does UK expenditure on benefits and services for disabled people compare with spending in other countries? To answer that question, we need a framework in which spending in countries with very different policies and institutions can be assessed on a fair basis. Fortunately, such a framework exists - in fact, there are two frameworks, one from the OECD and one from Eurostat.