World Economics

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International Comparisons of GDP
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Ian Castles & David Henderson, World Economics, March 2005
When it comes to making international comparisons of real GDP, different views, conventions and practices are still in evidence. The authors set out the case for using purchasing power parity (PPP) converters for this purpose, rather than conversions based on exchange rates, and give reasons for rejecting various arguments that are still widely made to the contrary. In doing so, they provide instances of the differing current practices of international agencies, and argue the case for greater uniformity and consistency on their part. They make a number of suggestions, general and specific, for improving the quality and presentation of cross-country comparative data.
What Do We Know About the Shadow Economy?
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Friedrich Schneider, World Economics, December 2001
Estimates of the size of the shadow economy in 21 OECD countries are presented. The average size of the shadow economy (as a percentage of ‘official’ GDP) over 1999/2000 in these countries is 16.7%. The author concludes that it is the increasing burden of taxation and social security contributions, combined with rising state regulatory activities, that are the driving forces for the recent growth in size of the shadow economy in the countries concerned.
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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