Is Divorce Beneficial to the Environment?

An earlier research article, which received extensive media coverage, argued that divorce leads to a higher use of resources such as domestic energy and water (Yu and Liu 2007). Considering 12 countries around the world they found that divorce leads to an increase in the number of small, less energy efficient households. Those who live alone usually live in housing with more square feet per person than those who live as a couple. This means that two people living alone require more heating than a couple living together. In addition, some consumer durables that require electricity are consumed at the household level, such as refrigerators, freezers, TVs etc. This leads Yu and Liu to conclude that high divorce rates will entail high levels of energy consumption.

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Does Climbing the ‘Social Ladder’ Increase Life Satisfaction? A Comparison of the UK and Switzerland

It is a widely held belief that status and wealth affect subjective well-being (SWB). This is reflected in the efforts of many people to climb up the ‘social ladder’ and to transcend their social background. By being upwardly mobile, they hope to benefit from various rewards they believe to be associated with desirable societal positions. However, findings from a range of disciplines provide evidence that these benefits are not to be taken for granted. Thus, we decided investigate the question of how upward social mobility impacts life satisfaction, the cognitive component of SWB.

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Perceptions of Inequality and Protest

In a recent post, Noah Carl described inequality “as one of the central political issues of our time” pointing to the growing number of cross-national protests mobilized around economic inequality. This mobilization has no doubt helped increase salience around the issue of inequality and while it may not have necessarily led to any specific policies designed to address inequality, it surely got the issue onto the policy agenda. But what might explain why individuals participate in these forms of political and collective action? Carl alludes to a possible factor when he points to his preliminary evidence “that citizens’ concern about inequality is correlated with the belief that individual effort determines income.”

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Sustainable Development in Developing Countries: Ramifications of Urbanisation and Poverty

Globally, sustainable development is recognised as a potential pathway for building resilient cities, reducing poverty and safeguarding the natural environment. With its aim to achieve a symbiotic relationship between the economy, society and the environment, the concept of sustainable development has increasingly focused on fostering adaptive capabilities and creating opportunities to maintain or achieve desirable social, economic and ecological systems for both present and future generations (Cobbinah et al., 2011; Folke et al., 2002; WCED, 1987). As a result, international policies, programmes and institutions over the past three decades have been considerably shaped by the idea of sustainable development. Continue reading

Sibling Similarity in Family Formation

Sibling data have been widely used to analyze the impact of family background on status attainment. To a lesser extent, they have been utilized for examining family-of-origin effects on demographic outcomes, such as leaving the parental home, union formation, and fertility. This research gap is surprising in view of the increased interest in the interdependencies between demographic processes among family members and their role in the (re‑)production of social inequality across generations. We address this issue in our recently published paper on sibling similarities in family formation.

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Why Sanctions are Ineffective: The Case of Undocumented Migrants and Their Employers

Over the last decade while we have both been conducting research into undocumented migration the sanctions regime has grown, extending further into civil society. Employers, landlords, banks and other agencies now all are charged with a legal obligation to police immigration. The law says that they may not offer employment, accommodation or other services to those who are undocumented and a failure to do so poses risks in terms of serious penalties, such as fines and even imprisonment. We have become increasingly concerned about the consequences of this regime, where the focus is on punishment, on naming and shaming and on public demonstrations of state punitive action, particularly in the form of raids on workplaces and on private homes. Continue reading

“Water-Energy-Pollution” Nexus for the Energy and Pollution Footprints of Cities

The growing world population and global urbanisation trends have raised serious concerns over energy demand. These concerns have been exacerbated by the challenges of climate change and pollution, which fuel worry over availability of the basic necessities like clean water and food. Whilst several studies discuss the effects of pollution on these needs, adequate attention has not yet to be paid to the inter-linkages between the water, energy and pollution sectors.

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How Different is a College Degree From a Spouse?

More educated individuals face substantially lower mortality rates than less educated ones. In our recent paper Pijoan-Mas and Ríos-Rull (2014), we use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to compute expected longevity at age 50 for white males and white females of different education levels in the US (the focus on these age and race groups is because of sample sizes.) We find that the difference in expected longevity between college graduates and individuals without a high school degree is large: 6.6 years for males and 5.8 years for females.

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The Widening Inequality in Elderly Property Wealth

The UK government’s 2014 Care Act for England is due to come into force in April 2016.  It will introduce a £72,000 cap on the amount anyone should pay for care in their lifetime.  The point at which individuals would have to start contributing to care is proposed to be set at around £118,000 worth of assets (savings and property). The act has arisen in response to concerns about population ageing and the imbalance between taxes being paid by a shrinking workforce, and the demands on health and welfare funds by an increasing number of elderly people.

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The Net Contributions Made by Immigrants and Danes to Danish Public Finances

Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen and Torben Tranæs have published a paper (Working Paper nr. 30, Rockwool Foundation, Research Unit, Copenhagen, 2014) investigating immigration as a solution to the challenges that an aging population represents. The paper is in Danish, but I think their research deserves a wider audience. Their investigation poses the question of whether immigration from different parts of the world can contribute to the financial challenges that an aging population represents. Secondly, the paper investigates how the annual net contribution changes over time, and what the average contribution is from ethnic Danes, Western immigrants and non-Western immigrants [1]. That way, the different sizes of the groups and the changes of net contribution over the life span are taken into account. Finally, it investigates how changes in immigration affect the public finances.
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