Should the UK Government Expand Pro-Marriage Tax Relief?

In April 2015, David Cameron’s government implemented legislation to promote marriage by providing tax relief for low-income married couples. While nearly four million couples could potentially claim the benefit of around £212 per year, it has been difficult to obtain and relatively few have done so. Now the government has plans to expand these tax benefits to more married couples in order to “send a strong signal that we back marriage.” (Cameron 2014) This raises the question of whether marriage, compared to cohabitation, does indeed boost well-being, and whether incentives to marry need to be expanded.

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On the Activities Providing Access to Quantitative Surveys for Social Research

Providing opportunities for secondary analysis and for the replication of studies, the sharing of research data is paramount to the social sciences. Facilitating the access to data has become a political objective, and more and more journals and funding agencies are adopting a data availability policy. In this context, it is useful to have insights into the challenges and potential benefits of ensuring that survey data are made widely available.

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The Future of Estimating Housing Requirements. How Can Demographic Forecasting Help Plan for Housing?

I would like to outline four themes that may be helpful to promote future work on housing requirements in the UK. First, what is the role of forecasting within planning? I think a two part formulation is a useful guide to what planners need. Forecasters should predict that part of the future which planners don’t control, so that they can concentrate on what they can control; and forecasters should predict the consequences of a plan. In our context, the ‘trend-based’ official projections encapsulate business as usual without the impact of future-changing plans, and in particular deal with fertility, mortality and international migration which are considered outside the planners’ control. Continue reading

Objective and Subjective Health Measures; What do They Tell us?

A variety of measures have been used to examine individuals’ health status. The most frequently used measures are subjective ones, such as self-rated health (SRH) and self-perceived dependence in activities of daily living (ADL). Objective measures and biomarkers are rarely used in this context. The introduction of such measures may provide an important complement to SRH and similar indicators. Recently objective measures such as grip strength and lung function gained popularity. SRH and grip strength are static indicators, capturing deviations from a norm perceived as healthy.

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Parents Repartnering Parents: The ‘Complex’ Nature of Stepfamily Formation

Due to high union dissolution rates, single parents are increasingly present on the relational market. Gaining insight into the re-partnering dynamics among these individuals is relevant from different perspectives. From a parent’s perspective, forming a new union has been identified as one of the main predictors of ‘recovering’ from the dissolution of a previous union, both in terms of improving social and emotional well-being, and financial resources (Sweeney 2010). From a child’s perspective, the arrival of a stepparent increases the availability of parental resources in the household. However, empirical evidence supporting the beneficial effects of a transition from single-parent family to stepfamily remains scarce and inconclusive (Sweeney 2010).

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