When Technology Meets Social Policy

In humanity’s continued efforts to adapt to a global ageing population, an article on BBC News and another article on CNN published late last year discuss a new solution to filling the elderly care gap: using robots to meet both the physical and emotional needs of our expanding elderly population. The idea of a “robotic” future may sound like science fiction and even invoke a sense of uneasiness, yet the change is gradually taking place across the world before our very eyes. Robots today can perform an amazing array of tasks: moving patients between rooms, tracking their sleep patterns, reminding them to take their medication, providing speech therapy to dementia patients, giving massages, and preparing and delivering meals. The recent development in assistive technology for care reminds us that we are living on the brink of the future and also invites us to reflect on the adaptability of modern social policies introduced over the past hundred or so years.

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Is the Fertility of Polish Women Higher in the UK than in Poland?

Following EU accession of the “EU8”[1] countries in 2004, we have witnessed large scale immigration from Poland to the United Kingdom (UK). Immigration levels peaked in 2007, but the size of the Polish population remains large. In 2012, there were approximately 646,000 Polish individuals living in the UK, Poland was the second most common non-UK country of birth, and Polish the most common non-UK nationality[2].

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The Relationship Between Generalized Trust and Intelligence

Generalized trust refers to trust in other members of society. In large social surveys, it is assessed with the question, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” Notwithstanding the question’s simplicity, generalized trust is correlated with a large number of important variables. At the macro-level, countries with higher generalized trust experience faster economic growth (Algan and Cahuc, 2010; Bjornskov, 2012) and have more efficient public institutions (Putnam, 1993; Tabellini, 2008). At the micro-level, individuals with higher generalized trust report better health (Giordano et al., 2012) and claim to be happier with their lives over all (Helliwell and Wang, 2011).

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