MeThink: Broken Windows Theory

Read it on Reason and Economist recently. It is about the low-form delinquency like graffiti, littering or subway fare jumping can actually spread the disorder… Can’t help but thinking, based on personal experience anedoctally, it is true for the case in Japan and Singapore: both countries are almost free from graffiti and have extremely low crime rate! And speaking of graffiti and subway fare-jumping, it is not uncommon here in Stockholm…

Household Saving Rates 1990-2008: Nordic Countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden (Nordic Countries)

Household Saving Rates 1990 – 2008: Canada vs US

Canada vs US

Household Saving Rates 1990 – 2008: Austria


Household Saving Rates 1990 – 2008: Australia


MeThink: 210 000 Hits!!!

10-06-2007: 10 000 hits.
04-09-2007: 20 000 hits.
21-10-2007: 30 000 hits.
25-11-2007: 40 000 hits.
25-12-2007: 50 000 hits.
27-01-2008: 60 000 hits.
21-02-2008: 70 000 hits.
11-03-2008: 80 000 hits.
28-03-2008: 90 000 hits.
14-04-2008: 100 000 hits.
30-04-2008: 110 000 hits.
18-05-2008: 120 000 hits.
03-06-2008: 130 000 hits.
25-06-2008: 140 000 hits.
18-07-2008: 150 000 hits.
13-08-2008: 160 000 hits.
08-09-2008: 170 000 hits.
27-09-2008: 180 000 hits.
15-10-2008: 190 000 hits.
03-11-2008: 200 000 hits.
18-11-2008: 210 000 hits!!!! 🙂

Picture: Autumn in Stockholm

Autumn in Stockholm, originally uploaded by micpohling.

US Daily Newspaper Changes % 2008

Change % by Newspaper

Weekly Highlight: 12-11-2008


Highest immigration rate in 30 years

The number of immigrants coming to Denmark in the third quarter was the highest ever for the period.
A record 26,312 people were given legal residency in Denmark between July and September – the most since quarterly immigration statistics began being kept in 1980.
Polish immigrants were responsible for the majority of the figure as 2,585 came to the country during the third quarter, according to Statistics Denmark. The agency’s figures show that 540 Poles left the country during the period, resulting in a net increase in Denmark of 2,062 Polish nationals for the quarter.
The total number of Poles who have been given legal residency in Denmark since October 2007 has gone from around 13,000 to over 20,000 as of the most recent count.
Germans and Americans make up the second and third largest groups of immigrants to Denmark during the third quarter of 2008, with figures showing net increases of 1,041 and 975, respectively. (rc)


Immigrants’ Skills Too Often Unused
Published 10.11.2008, 11.31

Finland has thousands of skilled immigrants who are looking for a job. Recruiting them would be an excellent way to help Finland deal with its ageing population, reports the non-profit organisation Pellervo Economic Research Institute.
According to a survey by the institute, some 91 percent of working immigrants say they have good to excellent labour skills. The percentage is the same for mainstream Finns. Of unemployed immigrants, 76 percent say they have at least good skills. For unemployed mainstream Finns, that number was 61 percent. Nearly all immigrants say they are eager to work as well.
Currently around 65,000 of Finland’s 130,000 immigrants are employed. Meanwhile about 20 percent are unemployed. In addition, some 25,000 immigrants are students, parents and pensioners. About one-third of them are actively seeking jobs.
In total, Finland has around 20,000 immigrants who are skilled and unemployed or outside the workforce. The institute says recruiting them could add a much needed boost to Finland’s labour market.

Language Is the Key

Language remains a key concern for immigrants searching for their first job. Experts point out that language skills improve on the job and work experience in Finland can open more doors in the future.
Services offered by employment offices are especially important for immigrants who often lack direct contact to the labour market. Some 49 percent of immigrant respondents said they used employment office services.
Furthermore immigrants clearly need more time to familiarise themselves at a new job than mainstream Finns. However employers don’t always want to invest time to help immigrants because of cost concerns. The report urges employers to come up with ways to help immigrants become familiar with their job.
A total of 1,103 immigrants responded to the survey carried out by the Pellervo Economic Research Institute.


Traditional family alive and well
Tuesday 11 November 2008

The traditional family where the man works full-time and the woman has a part-time job to pay for extras is alive and well in the Netherlands, according to a new report by the government’s social policy unit SCP.
The report shows that only 7% of Dutch women with a part-time job would like to work full-time and only one-third work because they need money. Only 41% of women with part-time jobs have children under the age of 11.
Women choose to work part-time so that it is easier to care for children, enjoy their hobbies, maintain social contacts and keep fit, the survey shows. ‘Women therefore take on the lion’s share of the household duties and childcare,’ the report says.

Money and status unimportant

But 40% of young women without children also work part-time, and only 16% of them would like a full-time job, the survey shows.
It points out that the government has actively stimulated the development of part-time jobs since the 1980s. Some 75% of women with jobs in the Netherlands work less than 35 hours a week, the highest percentage in Europe.
Many of the women are not interested in the money or status a career brings, the survey shows. Most feel that being recognised as good at their jobs and having nice colleagues is more important.

Minister shocked

The results of the survey have shocked Ronald Plasterk, the minister with special responsibility for women’s issues, and Pia Dijkstra, who chairs the government commission on boosting women’s working hours.
The AD newspaper reports that Plasterk and Dijkstra blame mothers and mothers-in-law for talking young women into working less.
‘They think their daughters and daughters-in-law have a hard time and say ‘do you really want to do that, dearie?’ the paper quotes the minister as saying.
‘Women are not sufficiently aware that … one in three marriages breaks down and they will end up without income or pension,’ says Plasterk.
He says the current situation means a great deal of female talent is being wasted. ‘In many areas there are more women graduates than men. But look who gets to the top, look who becomes professor. There are so few women,’ the AD quotes him as saying.


Brand Sweden enters global top ten
Published: 10 Nov 08 17:07 CET

A typically inhumane November mixture of wind, sleet, snow and SAD is not enough to dampen Sweden’s mood, as the country uses its cunning and stealth to creep into the top ten of a prestigious nation branding index.
“This gives recognition to Sweden as a very well-managed company,” said Christina Saliba to the TT news agency. Saliba is the chief executive of the Swedish branch of PR agency Weber Shandwick, which compiles the annual Country Brand Index in conjunction with the FutureBrand agency.
Australia, Canada and the United States are the three countries deemed to have this year’s strongest brands, while Sweden joins the list in tenth place for the first time in the index’s short four year history.
“Despite the fact that Sweden is a small country, we excel in many contexts, with several internationally recognized brands and a number of international stars,” said Saliba.
The study is based on responses to a questionnaire sent out to entertainment and business travellers as well as a panel of 30 international experts.
Sweden swept aside the opposition to score first place on two of the detailed sub-rankings.
“With forward-thinking privatized pensions, low inflation and one of the highest rates of GDP per hour worked, Sweden is a world leader in living standards,” according to the study.
The country has also garnered admiration for its green approach.
“With a comprehensive plan for an ‘Environmental Sweden,’ the country’s policy for ecologically sustainable development endeavors to solve all major environmental problems for the next generation.”
While Sweden fails to make a mark in a number of other areas, such as History and Arts & Culture, the country does manage to score top ten results across a range of fields.
Considered stable and secure, the country comes fourth on the safety ranking. Here neighbouring Norway is considered the safest of havens.
Sweden also scores highly (8th) for ease of travel to, from and within the country. But the Netherlands is considered the best facilitator of travel.
New Zealanders top the list in terms of friendly locals, with Swedes claiming a very creditable seventh position.
Canada gets the nod for the range of activities available to families, with Sweden dropping one place to sixth from last year’s index.
Japan is the best country in the world in which to hold a businesses conference, according to the study, while Sweden is tenth.
Business travellers wishing to extend their stay to include a vacation are told that Sweden is the seventh best place in which to do so. Not bad for a country without the sun, surf and barbies of top ranking Australia.
And only the Netherlands and New Zealand are considered to have more political freedom than their Swedish counterparts.
Given a choice to live anywhere outside their home country, most people surveyed opted for Australia, while Sweden is the sixth most popular choice.
The quality of products made in Japan is deemed higher than anywhere else. Sweden claims tenth spot on the product quality ranking.
Japan again scores highest as the country in which the latest technologies are most prevalent. But Sweden shows it can be techy too with a fourth place finish.
“Sweden has a good international reputation. Things are well ordered. We get good results for honesty in our relations with other countries. We are considered punctual and we follow the terms of our agreements.
“The fact that Sweden is on this top list gives a lot of added value to the business and tourism sectors,” said Christina Sabina.

US Daily Newspaper Circulation 2008

Circulation by Newspaper

Weekly Highlight: 05-11-2008


City councillors are finding that they can’t please everyone when it comes to organising the childcare system

Parents in Nørrebro are ready to throw a fit. Same with Vanløse. Concerns that their children will be hurt by proposed changes in the public childcare system in the two areas has some even threatening to move away from the city.
In Nørrebro parents are worried about the effects of a plan to stop offering a programme that sees their children bussed to preschools in greener areas outside the city centre. While in Vanløse they fear a proposal to change the classification of some preschools means finding a new place to have their children taken care of.
The programme bussing preschool-age children from certain areas of the most densely populated parts of the city to schools in suburban areas has long been a part of the city’s daycare system. In addition to freeing up space at often crowded preschools in their neighbourhoods, these ‘udflytterbørnehaver’ also allow children the chance to spend their day in a non-urban environment. But after the city announced that the 150 spaces now offered to children in Nørrebro would be transferred to Amager children, parents in Nørrebro say they are considering moving. Doing so would strengthen the area’s reputation for being hard hit by ‘white flight’.
Many parents point out that even though they see benefits of having them grow up in a multi-cultural environment, they feel their children also need time outside the city to experience something other than honking cars and cement playgrounds. A recent spate of gang-related shootings means parents are eager to keep their children as far away from the area as possible.
City councillors, however, defend the decision. They say Nørrebro has excess preschool capacity, while Amager has too little. ‘I can understand their concern,’ said Kasper Johansen, a Social Liberal member of the Child and Youth Committee, which is responsible for school issues. ‘I agree that bussing is an important part of the daycare system in Nørrebro.’
Johansen said he was willing to consider alternative solutions, but stressed that the lack of preschools in Amager also needed to be considered.   While parents in Nørrebro are concerned about not being able to ship their kids outside the city, parents in Vanløse are angry at a proposal that could see them dropping their kids off some place outside their neighbourhood.
A lack of daycare centres for children under the age of three – known as ‘vuggestuer’ – in the area mean the council is considering reclassifying preschool spaces for older children (‘børnehaver’). The city would find new places for 90 or so children in daycare centres affected by the change, but parents say the plan violates a 2002 council promise not to force parents to change daycare centres.
Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, chairman of the Child and Youth Committee, admitted that the change could mean moving children against parents’ wills. He said, however, that the national government’s limitation on municipal spending meant the city couldn’t build its way out of the problem.
‘Reclassifying schools and moving resources is the only option we have. Not least because other areas of the city are facing a greater lack of daycare options.’
Kjeldgaard and the mayor’s Social Democratic party have agreed to consider amending their plan, but  Johansen said he had no intention of supporting it. He called it a ‘knee jerk’ reflex based on uncertain forecasts about the number of school age children living in the area in coming years. 


YLE Publishes Income and Tax Data
Published 03.11.2008, 06.10 (updated 03.11.2008, 20.39)

Income and taxation data for 2007 go public on Monday. The information will also be available on YLE’s Internet pages.
Members of the public will be able to browse income and taxation information for the entire country at the address Visitors can find information on capital gains as well as earned income for thousands of Finnish taxpayers.
The website will also provide a sample listing of the top earners in both categories for each municipality in Finland. The size of the listings will depend on the composition of the municipality.
Last year, the top income earner was Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila, who raked in 9.76 million euros in taxable income.
The pages will also provide tax information considered to be of national significance. The listings provide income and taxation data notable figures such as captains of industry, politicians, giants of culture and media as well as sporting heroes.


Chocolate cigarettes labelled a gateway drug
Published: 4 Nov 08 14:05 CET

German cancer researchers and consumer protection experts on Tuesday called for a ban on chocolate and candy cigarettes, labelling them a threat to the future health of children.
Officials from the Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg and the Association of Consumer Protection Agencies in Berlin said sweets made to look like cigarettes – widely available in German supermarkets and kiosks – gave youths the impression smoking was a harmless pleasure.
“Candy and toy cigarettes are a constant temptation for young children and have been shown to double the chances of becoming a smoker as an adult,” a spokeswoman for the Cancer Research Centre told The Local. “Forbidding them is a question of taking smoking prevention seriously.”
Candy resembling tabacco products has already been outlawed in other European countries, such as Great Britain, Finland, Norway and Ireland. The prohibition of candy cigarettes is also outlined in a World Health Organization convention, which Germany has ratified.
The two groups calling for the ban believe the legal enforcement of the convention is a crucial part in preventing German children and teenagers from smoking. They see voluntary agreement as too unreliable and say only a legal prohibition of the sweets will guarantee child welfare.
According to a 2005/2006 US survey of nearly 26,000 adults, consumption of candy cigarettes at age 12 doubles one’s chances of becoming a smoker as an adult, regardless of the smoking habits of one’s parents.


Cabinet confirms growth ‘towards zero’
Monday 03 November 2008

Economic growth next year will be significantly lower than the 1.25% forecast by the government in September when it announced its national budget plans for 2009, reports Saturday’s NRC.

Following the weekly cabinet meeting on Friday, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and finance minister Wouter Bos warned that growth could even fall ‘towards zero’, the paper says.
And while the cabinet does not as yet expect to make cuts, there will be no room for extra expenditure next year. This means that if government spending rises, for example in the area of social services, cuts will have to be made to compensate, the paper says.
‘The Dutch will have to get used to the fact that it is not going well with the economy,’ Bos is quoted as saying in what is his most sombre prognosis to date.
Balkenende also confirmed that any profits made from the stakes the state has bought in financial services group Fortis, and the ABN Amro and ING banks will be used to lower national debt.


Higher birth rates among Sweden’s foreign-born
Published: 3 Nov 08 12:43 CET

Foreign-born women living in Sweden are giving birth to more children on average than women born in Sweden, new statistics show.
A study by Statistics Sweden finds that foreign-born women had a fertility rate of 2.21 children per woman, while Swedish-born women reproduced at a rate of 1.82 children per woman.
Sweden’s overall fertility rate in 2007 was 1.88 children per woman, below the rate of 2.1 children per woman required to replace the population.
Since 1980, the percentage of births registered in Sweden to mothers born outside the country has nearly doubled from 12 percent to 22 percent.
Part of the increase is thought to be related to the increase in the number of foreign born women of childbearing age which has risen from 11 percent of women living in Sweden aged 20 to 40-years-old in 1980 to 18 percent in 2007.
According to the report, Sweden’s foreign-born population has increased by more than one million people in the last 50 years and numbered about 1.2 million people in 2007 out of Sweden’s total population of just under 9.2 million.
Statistics Sweden projects that Sweden’s foreign-born population will reach 1.7 million by 2050.
Entitled ‘Childbearing among native and foreign-born’, the study divides foreign-born women into six different categories corresponding to their country of origin: other Nordic countries, EU countries other than Nordic countries, European countries except the EU and Nordic countries, and countries outside Europe with high, medium or low level of development based on the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI).
Women from most of the groupings were found to have a greater likelihood of giving birth to a third or fourth child compared to women born in Sweden.
The study’s authors attribute the difference in part to the tendency of newly arrived immigrants to have children shortly after their arrival and in part because some groups of immigrant women are more likely to start having children earlier in life, as well as a tendency for women in Sweden to only have two children.
In general, the fertility rates of women born in other Nordic countries, EU countries other than the Nordics, and highly developed countries outside of Europe such as the United States, Chile, and South Korea, mirror the fertility rates of Swedish-born women quite closely since 1990.
Women born in European countries outside the EU, however, have historically had higher fertility rates than women born in Sweden, as have women born in low and medium developed countries outside of Europe.
The group with the highest fertility rate includes women born in countries with low-levels of economic development, although rates vary greatly from country to country.
Women from Somalia, for example, have the highest fertility rate, averaging 3.9 children per woman in 2007. However, women born in Ethiopia have a fertility rate of only 2.2 children per woman.
According to Statistics Sweden, however, childbearing patterns for foreign-born women are demonstrating a convergence with those of women born in Sweden.

MeThink: 200 000 Hits!!!!

Wow, this is really a great moment for me 😛

10-06-2007: 10 000 hits.
04-09-2007: 20 000 hits.
21-10-2007: 30 000 hits.
25-11-2007: 40 000 hits.
25-12-2007: 50 000 hits.
27-01-2008: 60 000 hits.
21-02-2008: 70 000 hits.
11-03-2008: 80 000 hits.
28-03-2008: 90 000 hits.
14-04-2008: 100 000 hits.
30-04-2008: 110 000 hits.
18-05-2008: 120 000 hits.
03-06-2008: 130 000 hits.
25-06-2008: 140 000 hits.
18-07-2008: 150 000 hits.
13-08-2008: 160 000 hits.
08-09-2008: 170 000 hits.
27-09-2008: 180 000 hits.
15-10-2008: 190 000 hits.
03-11-2008: 200 000 hits!!!!

South Korea: Gini 1980 – 2005


South Korea: Mean Wages 1980 – 2005


Mean wages in thousand Korean won.