Think developed countries have more women in Parliament than the rest of the word? Think again.

The data in the table below (extract taken from this table) has been compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the basis of information provided by National Parliaments by 1st April 2013.
Out of the top 30 countries, only a few – predominantly scandinavian countries – are present, namely: Sweden (4th), Finland (7th), Norway (11th) and Denmark (13th).
Iceland (10th), the Netherlands (14th) and Belgium (17th)  are other noteworhty exceptions. The US ranked 78th with 17.8% and 20% of women in the lower and upper houses, respectively. To put this position in perspective, that’s below Kazakhstan, Iraq, or Lesotho (which is ranked just below France).
The UK is ranked 58th in a tie with Pakistan. In the EU, Hungary (119th) ranks particularly poorly, being ranked just after the Democractic Republic of Congo.
Of course, presence in parliament is not everything and does not necessarily correlate highly with other measures of gender equality (for other measures such as share of women on boards, see this great website by the OECD). That being said, I think it’s hard not see it as an abysmal failure on the part of advanced economies to ensure gender equality in political representation.

Privatisation, Partisanship and the IMF

Pressures to Privatize? The IMF, Globalization, and Partisanship in Latin America 
By David Doyle, Political Research Quaterly


Despite pervasive downward pressure on government policy from exogenous forces, the author argues that partisanship still exerts an effect on privatization in Latin America. When a country is indebted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a government of the right is in power, scholars can expect increased levels of privatization. However, when a country is indebted to the IMF and a government of the left is in power, electoral incentives will prompt these governments to ignore IMF pressure and reduce levels of privatization. The author tests this argument on a data set of eighteen Latin American countries, between the years 1984 and 1998.

Labour market policy reaction to the crisis in Europe and the US

Southern European countries that are currently facing particularly acute labour market issues have done little in terms of additional training. Italy and Spain have seen the most important increases in spending on unemployment benefits. Only Greece has stepped up spending on employment and start up incentives.

Liberal Market Economies have raised spending on unemployment benefits (particularly strongly for Ireland) but only Ireland has slightly enhanced training. It’s also striking to note the reduction in US spending on unemployment benefits between 2009 and 2010.

None of these countries spend anything on job rotation nor on early retirement (except for Ireland – that has actually decreased spending). Similarly, only Ireland has increased spending on direct job creation and employment incentives and now spends important amounts on these programs.

Turning our attention to other continental European countries reveals that there was not much action in Germany, while France expanded expanded spending on job creation and start up incentives. Austria and the Netherlands have not altered spending on other active labour market policies in any important ways whereas Belgium has raised spending on employment incentives.

What is striking is how little most countries have done in terms of expanding programs targeted at the unemployed, given the depth of the economic crisis. More information on these programs can be found here.

Bernanke on Economic Outlook and Policy

Chairman Casey, Vice Chairman Brady, and other members of the Committee, I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the economic outlook and economic policy.
Economic growth has continued at a moderate rate so far this year. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of about 2 percent in the first quarter after increasing at a 3 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2011. Growth last quarter was supported by further gains in private domestic demand, which more than offset a drag from a decline in government spending. 

Read more