Revolution of the Middle Classes?

Much of social theory has tended in the past to paint revolutions against rulers as uprisings of oppressed classes albeit often with leaders from more privileged backgrounds. However, the spread of education to large populations, when combined with new and widely accessible information technology, seems to be democratizing revolutionary capacity. The middle classes, especially if … More Revolution of the Middle Classes?

Results of a New International Survey of Problem Solving Skills

The OECD has introduced an international survey of problem-solving skills among students, involving 84000 students in 44 countries. The first survey results place students in Singapore, Korea, Japan and China (Macao, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei) at the top of the list for problem-solving skills. Students in Canada, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, England and the … More Results of a New International Survey of Problem Solving Skills

Aging Societies and Sustainability of Social Costs: Learning from older societies

We are often told by political leaders that our aging populations will place such demands on social programs – social security, medicaid, medicare, old age security, guaranteed income supplement, chronic and graduated care, etc. – that these programs are “unsustainable” and therefore need to be “reformed,” which usually means reducing benefits. This reasoning tends to … More Aging Societies and Sustainability of Social Costs: Learning from older societies

Targeted geographic anti-poverty interventions: France’s “Sensitive Urban Zones”

We mentioned in the January issue that US President Obama has announced a program targeting “Opportunity Zones,” socio-economically disadvantaged areas where efforts would be concentrated to improve conditions. This could be a challenge, since some kinds of disadvantage, especially poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, seem to be resistant to geographic targeting. The French experience with … More Targeted geographic anti-poverty interventions: France’s “Sensitive Urban Zones”

Lessons about National Social Spending

We used to think it was pretty straightforward to rank countries on how much they spend on their “welfare state”  – or social programs.  Scandinavian countries on top, western Europe next, followed by the Anglo countries and southern Europe. Sweden was the ultimate welfare state – “high tax – high transfers.” The USA generally came … More Lessons about National Social Spending