The evolution of wealth inequality is driven in part by past political structures. This column presents a case study from Germany, focusing on the history of the southern city-state, Nördlingen. The results of the study highlight how past political elites were able to exploit extreme moments of crisis, such as wars and epidemics, to enrich themselves, driving up wealth inequality. In fact, the extent to which a region had an oligarchic political structure transpires to be a clear driver of wealth inequality trends, today as in the past.
Levels of dishonesty vary by region in Italy. This column measures how behaviours and attitudes relating to rule-breaking differ from place to place using childbirth registration data. By tracking where more people are falsifying birth records, it is possible to make accurate inferences about honesty in a given area. Importantly, the column also shows that migration movements can generate honesty drains or honesty gains in different areas. These changes correlate with regional economic outcomes, from human capital to productivity, to earnings growth, to the quality of local government.
Measuring people’s health status is vital for designing effective policies that support different age groups. But economists working in this field face a difficult challenge when it comes to integrating accurate health measures into their economic models. This then makes it difficult for policy-makers to make straightforward model-based decisions. This column offers a new metric and seeks to solve the issue of measuring health statuses and their associated economic outcomes. The new approach makes integrating important health data into economic models easier, helping yield more accurate results.
Ofsted is an established feature of the English state school system. Ofsted grades are even displayed on property search websites in addition to government and school websites. This column explores the value of providing such information, versus the pressure such inspections place on schools. This comes in the context of a backlash against the system following the tragic death of an English headteacher earlier this year.