New posts at the Grattan Blog

I have a couple of new posts up at the Grattan Blog. The first is built around a web app that shows you which countries are most similar to Australia, measured using criteria that you can weight yourself. We used this to help us when we were considering which countries to compare Australia to in the Commonwealth Orange Book. The second post explains why we used life expectancy as our measure of health outcomes in the Orange Book, and shows that other measures tell a similar story. You can subscribe to the Grattan Blog via email or RSS from the site, or follow the blog’s dedicated Twitter account.

A new tool to make it easier to work with ABS data

This post will only be of interest to people who work with ABS time series data in R. To use most time series data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics you need to click around on their website – with your hands, like an animal – and download a spreadsheet, like it’s the 90s or something. Horrifying stuff. Even worse, once you’ve got the spreadsheet you’ll find the data is formatted in a way that makes it hard to work with in statistical software. Building on earlier work by Zoe Meers and Jaron Lee, I’ve written an R package called readabs that makes it easier to work with ABS time series data. The package has one key function, read_abs(), which will download, import, and tidy ABS time series data for you. The messiness of ABS time series If you want to visualise or analyse data in R, you will often need to tidy it first. In tidy data: Each variable

read more A new tool to make it easier to work with ABS data


Good content from the World Wide Web

Econ blogging is back. It’s good again! Here is some content that I recommend you consume: Nicholas Gruen on monetary policy If the RBA were to raise interest rates, what would be the economic costs and benefits of that change? Strange as it is, this question doesn’t seem to be asked often, much less answered, as Nicholas points out. David Sligar on neoliberalism My general rule has long been that the usefulness of a piece of writing declines in line with the square of the number of times it uses the word ‘neoliberalism’. David Sligar shows that I’ve been too hasty in dismissing its usefulness as a concept. Paul Tucker on unelected power What public policy tasks should be delegated to independent government agencies, like central banks, and which should not? What are the conditions under which it is acceptable and desirable to delegate authority? These questions aren’t asked often enough, but they’re discussed in a very interesting way in

read more Good content from the World Wide Web

Are jobs going to people who aren’t looking for them?

After a horrible decade or so, America’s unemployment rate is finally back down to around 4%, in the vicinity of what would normally be considered ‘full employment’. But is there still some slack in the US labour market? The Economic Policy Institute thinks so, and Josh Bivens at EPI has produced this graph to support their argument: If the number of employed people rises, those extra workers can come from one of two places. Either the new workers were previously actively looking for a job, in which case they were “unemployed”, or they were out of work and not actively looking for a job, in which case they’re considered to have been “not in the labour force.” The EPI chart shows that in recent months, over 70% of newly employed people have come from the ranks of those who were not in the labour force – the people who were out of work, but not actively looking for a job.

read more Are jobs going to people who aren’t looking for them?

How does your income compare?

Have you ever wondered how your income compares to other Australians? Well use this calculator thing I made to look it up then. It takes your household’s after-tax income and adjusts it for the number of people in your house to give your ‘equivalised disposable household income.’ The calculator uses ABS data from 2015-16, which was released in September 2017. You can get the ABS data here.