The Great Debate UK
It seems barely a week goes by without another shock report about the ever-widening gap between those at the top of the earnings distribution and the rest of us. The facts are by now well-established. Throughout the Western world, but most noticeably in Britain and America, the earnings of the top one or two percent are accelerating into the stratosphere, leaving the middle class a long way behind, and the working class completely out of sight. How can one explain this global phenomenon?
Academic economics seems to be taking a surprisingly long time to reach a definitive answer, but I suspect there will turn out to be two long term trends at work here.
First, globalisation has doubled or tripled the supply of unskilled and semi-skilled labour. As long as China remained locked in Maoist isolation and the Indian economy had to carry the full burden of the Licence Raj, their respective workforces were shut off from the global labour market. The fact that products could theoretically be manufactured far cheaper in those countries was unimportant, because in practice Western firms could never take advantage of their rock-bottom labour costs.
Now that they have opened up and it is possible to outsource manufacturing to China and the paperwork to India, there is less and less left for our workers and middle-managers to do – unless, of course, they are willing to work for more competitive (i.e. lower) wages.
Japan has quite a way to go to narrow its gender gap and come closer to matching the disparities found between the sexes in other G7 countries, statistics show.
- Alison Steed is the editor of the personal finance website for women and families MyMoneyDiva.com. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. -
Women have often been given a bad deal when it comes to work, whether we like it or not.
- Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-
The pound has started the year on a negative note. Ongoing concerns over the budget deficit, an impending general election, the prospect that the Bank of England (BoE) may yet increase quantitative easing (QE) and a drop in consumer confidence are all clouding the outlook.
- Steve Radley is Director of Policy at EEF, Britain’s manufacturers’ organisation. The views expressed are his own.
This week the index of manufacturing activity in the UK moved into growth territory for the first time in more than a year. While that does not necessarily mean that the recession is over, it does suggest that we should be thinking a bit more about what sort of recovery we are likely to see and how well placed the UK is to meet it.
- Peter Dixon is a guest columnist, the views expressed are his own. He is global financial economist at Commerzbank -
The popular image of economists is one of pointy-headed analysts, poring over data and running models in order to make predictions about the future which will invariably prove to be wrong.