World Economics

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How Many US Jobs Might be Offshorable?
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Alan S. Blinder, World Economics, June 2009
Using detailed information on the nature of work done in over 800 US Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational codes, this paper ranks those occupations according to how easy/hard it is to offshore the work – either physically or electronically. Using this ranking, it is estimated that somewhere between 22% and 29% of all US jobs are or will be potentially offshorable within a decade or two. (No estimate is made of how many jobs will actually be offshored.) Since the rankings are subjective, two alternatives are presented – one is entirely objective, the other is an independent subjective ranking. In general, they corroborate the rankings, albeit not perfectly. It is found that there is little or no correlation between an occupation’s ‘offshorability’ and the skill level of its workers (as measured either by educational attainment or wages). However, it appears that, controlling for education, the most highly offshorable occupations were already paying significantly lower wages in 2004.
The Economics of Happiness
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Carol Graham, World Economics, September 2005
The economics of happiness is an approach to assessing welfare that combines economists’ techniques with those of psychologists, and relies on more expansive notions of utility than does conventional economics. Research based on this approach highlights the factors—in addition to income—that affect well-being. It is well suited to informing questions in areas where revealed preferences provide limited information, such as the welfare effects of inequality and of macroeconomic policies such as inflation and unemployment. One such question is the gap between economists’ assessments of the aggregate benefits of the globalization process and the more pessimistic assessments that are typical of the general public. The paper summarizes research on some of these questions, and in particular on those relevant to globalization, poverty, and inequality.
False Perspective: The UNDP View of the World
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David Henderson, World Economics, March 2000
Despite some searching and unanswered criticisms of its treatment of statistical evidence, the UNDP Human Development Report has become established as a widely-quoted and influential survey of the world scene. The 1999 Report, reviewed here, focuses on ‘globalization’. This is described as a dominant influence on the recent economic fortunes of developing countries in particular, and as a primary cause of continuing poverty and growing inequality in the world. The author argues that the Report provides neither argument nor evidence in support of this thesis; that it takes no account of other factors that have strongly influenced economic performance; that its main prescription for the world, of reforms in ‘global governance’, is largely beside the point; and that its whole approach is crudely anti-liberal. The author concludes by placing the Report, as also the economists who have aligned themselves with it, in the wider context of anti-liberalism today.

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