The Marriage Decline: Obesity’s Hidden Culprit

It is the topic everyone is talking about: marriage. The demise of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June sent a ripple of excitement around the United States, as discussion heats up over how the new legislation will affect gay marriage. But gays are not the only ones for whom marriage is changing. Gay or straight, people are waiting longer to marry and having more children outside of marriage. These vast changes, summarized in this report, have policymakers buzzing about the hidden costs of delayed marriage, especially for children. Yet, despite all the hype, we have ignored a major question.

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Gerontocracy in Italy – The Minimum Legal Voting Age of 25 Years and its Consequences

When asked about the minimum legal voting age in the world, your answer would probably be 18 years. You would be right, as this is the average and most common minimum legal voting age across the globe, with only 27 exceptions where it varies between 16 and 21 years. There is only one, very notable and consequential exception: the minimum legal voting age of 25 for the Senate in Italy. The political, societal and economic consequences of this unusual constraint in Italy may well affect the whole of Europe.

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Intergenerational Justice in 29 Aging Societies

A 29-country snapshot. Population aging wide across the OECD has led to a renewed popular and theoretical interest in the notion of justice between generations. But efforts to measure intergenerational justice empirically have lagged behind. How can we improve policies when we do not know the state of affairs in terms of intergenerational justice in practice? At the request of the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Germany, I have developed a simple four-dimensional snapshot indicator to improve the cognitive toolkit of academics, journalists and policymakers: the Intergenerational Justice Index, or IJI. The aim is pragmatic and empirical: to compare intergenerational justice in practice across OECD member states. Continue reading

Is it Possible to Accurately Measure Migration?

A few days ago, Britain’s premier right-wing tabloid, the Daily Mail, ran a story entitled ‘Disney World can keep better track of its visitors than Britain’. The story reported on a recent report by a group of British MP’s criticising the inaccuracy and bluntness of the UK’s migration statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS, the UK government’s statistical bureau). Even for relatively experienced demographers, the report was startling in its findings. For example, the International Passenger Survey (IPS), a voluntary survey for travellers entering and leaving the UK, generated samples that were estimated to be around 0.6% of total migrants. This sample size is barely useful for social scientific research, let alone basing government policy on. Continue reading