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Measuring Macroeconomic Performance Using a Composite Index
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Julian Gough, World Economics, September 2018
Large quantities of economic data, varying in accuracy and reliability and subject to later revision, are continually produced and published so interpretation using only one data source is subject to risk. The complex world of data can be simplified by combining different measures of economic performance—economic growth, unemployment and inflation into a single composite index. A composite index of cross-sectional data relating to the economic performance of all of the European Union in 2017 puts Ireland, Romania and Malta in the top three positions, while Germany is ranked 12th. Tracking the UK with the composite index using time-series data shows the impact of the financial crisis in 2008–09 with a gradual improvement in performance which peaks in 2015.
Poles Apart
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Paul Gregg, Kirstine Hansen & Jonathan Wadsworth, World Economics, June 2000
Analysis of labour market performance using individual level data can reach radically different conclusions to those provided by a household-based analysis, using the same source of information. In Britain and other OECD countries the number of households without access to earned income has grown despite rising employment rates. Built around a comparison of the actual jobless rate in households with that which would occur if work were randomly distributed, the authors show that work is becoming increasingly polarised in many countries. Changing household structure can only account for a minority of the rise in workless households, so that labour market failure is the dominant explanation. Polarisation of work will have important welfare and budgetary consequences for any country.

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