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Tony Atkinson’s death at the beginning of 2017 deprived economics of one of its leading contributors to research on public economics, inequality, poverty and the welfare state. This article focuses on his last official role, as Chair of the World Bank Commission on Global Poverty. The report of the Commission – already referred to as the Atkinson Commission – proposes a new approach to measuring and monitoring the global poverty reduction targets established as part of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by the United Nations in 2015. Atkinson developed the framework and provided the academic impetus to the work of the Commission and wrote much of its report, assisted by comments provided by an Advisory Board of eminent experts in the field and a smaller working group of selected members. The article describes some of the main features of the report’s 21 recommendations, focusing on the measurement of poverty in both monetary and non-monetary dimensions and its attempt to draw together national and global efforts to measure and reduce poverty in all its forms. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of the new approach for Australia, which like many other developed countries has so far failed to engage actively with the debate over addressing extreme global poverty.
The use of exchange rates based on Purchasing Power Parities to compare incomes across countries and over time has now become standard practice. But there are reasons to believe that this could lead to excessively inflated incomes for poorer countries and in some cases also inflate the extent of real changes over time. Estimates of gross domestic product growth in the Chinese and Indian economies in recent years provide examples of this.
While other research has shown that higher paid truck and bus drivers are safer, this is the first study showing why higher paid drivers are safer. We estimate the labour supply curve for long-haul truck drivers in the United States, applying two-stage least squares regression to a national survey of truck drivers. We start with the standard model of the labour supply curve and then develop two novel extensions of it, incorporating pay level and pay method, and testing the target earnings hypothesis. We distinguish between long-haul and short-haul jobs driving commercial motor vehicles. Truck and bus drivers choose between long-distance jobs requiring very long hours of work away from home and short-distance jobs generally requiring fewer hours. The labour supply curve exhibits a classic backward bending shape, reflecting drivers’ preference to work until they reach target earnings. Above target earnings, at a ‘safe rate’ for truck drivers, they trade labour for leisure, working fewer hours, leading to greater highway safety. Drivers work fewer hours at a higher pay rate and likely have less fatigue. Pay rates also have implications for driver health because worker health deteriorates as working time exceeds 40 hours.
Marketised models of social care provision in Australia are placing pressures on service providers and driving changes in work organisation and employer practices, with potential to degrade social care jobs. While international experience of marketised social care has demonstrated the vulnerability of social care workers to wage theft and other violations of employment laws, Australia’s relatively strong industrial relations safety net might be expected to be better able to protect these low-paid workers. Nevertheless, there is emerging evidence of negative impacts on the pay and entitlements of frontline workers in the expanding community support and homecare workforce. This study investigates the paid and unpaid work time of disability support workers under Australia’s new National Disability Insurance Scheme. The research takes a novel approach combining analysis of working day diaries and qualitative interviews with employees to expose how jobs are being fragmented and work is being organised into periods of paid and unpaid time, leaving employees paid below their minimum entitlement. The article highlights the role of social care policy along with inadequate employment regulation.
Trends in Eastern Europe, with particular emphasis on Poland, are used in this article to analyse offshoring as a form of social dumping. Neoliberalisation and globalisation generate and utilise the mobility of both capital and labour. Meanwhile, labour migration is presenting a challenge to the observance of labour rights. Present-day methods of capital accumulation rely on the search for cheap labour and the relocation of production to territories that do not protect workers’ rights. Effective defence of labour rights must take place at the transnational level, where most capital is generated. Trade unions need to cross national borders in order to move social activity into this area. The defence of workers’ rights must go hand in hand with the struggle against nationalism and racist prejudices. In this context, migrant workers become one of the main potential driving forces of the modern global proletariat.
The recent economic crisis was a test case for many advanced countries to determine the capacity of their socio-economic model to cope with the challenges of globalisation and financial crash. From this perspective, the aim of this article is to explore whether the expansion of the welfare state should be seen as a barrier to economic growth and competitiveness, as ‘neoliberal’ economists often argue, or whether increasing public social provision might contribute to enhancing real income. After a comparative discussion of the evolution of different welfare models in developed countries, we advance our argument that public social spending is not a drain on competitiveness or an obstacle to economic efficiency. On the contrary, we explore the possibility that increasing welfare expenditure can stimulate economic growth along with lowering inequality, while the so-called ‘efficiency thesis’ (according to which globalisation needs to be accompanied by the retrenchment of welfare states in order to promote external competitiveness) produces worse economic performance and higher inequality. As a test of this hypothesis, we analyse empirical data on 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries from 1990 to 2013. We use econometric analysis to indicate that the so-called ‘compensation thesis’ (a process whereby globalisation is regulated through expansion of welfare states) may contribute to real income dynamics, while greater income inequality may inhibit per capita gross domestic product growth.