Saturday , May 30 2020
Home / Tag Archives: Frances Woolley

Tag Archives: Frances Woolley

Can you be confident about an economy you can’t see?

Canada's economy may be on life support, but it is still hanging on. Even on streets that seem empty and shuttered, there are a few businesses getting by, or even thriving. The bookstore on Beechwood Avenue looks closed, but every so often a customer pops by to pick up an order from the bookrack hidden in the vestibule. At Life of Pie, the neighbourhood bakery/restaurant, the tables are stacked up, and the lights dimmed - but in the back the kitchen is humming, as the staff works hard to...

Read More »

The behavioural economics of the Marie Kondo method

Marie Kondo is the guru behind the best-selling Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. For some people, like me, her method works. One possible reason for its success is that, underneath it all, there are some sound behavioural economics principles. 1. Shift the reference point Marie Kondo recommends dividing one's possessions into five categories and tidying them a category at a time: first clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous and finally sentimental items. Within each...

Read More »

Reading Amartya Sen on Poverty and Famines

The shut down of entire sectors of the economy in response a pandemic is akin to a crop failure. Both represent a sudden, large and unexpected decline in production. Both leave people without resources, without the wherewithall to command the necessities of life. So I am revisiting Amartya Sen's 1981 monograph Poverty and Famines (ungated), to see if his entitlement approach has relevance for today's crisis. Sen begins with the crucial distinction between there being enough and people...

Read More »

This is no virus for old men

Statistics Canada has just released a dataset with detailed anonymized information on all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, available for download here. Unlike many of the available trackers, the Statistics Canada data reports cases by date of onset, defined as "earliest date available from the following series: Symptom Onset Date, Specimen Collection Date, Laboratory Testing Date, Date reported to the province/territory or Date reported to Public Health Agency of Canada." Defined that...

Read More »

Regional disparities in hospital bed access across Canada

The number of acute care hospital beds per capita is an imperfect measure of a health care system's ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, beds are easy to acquire, as are hotels or similar buildings to put beds in. It is ventilators, IV drips, heart monitors, masks, gloves, and, above all, skilled health professionals that are the crucial resource constraints in this crisis. However if most hospitals operate with more or less the same ratio of nurses/beds, IV drips/beds,...

Read More »

How prepared is your hospital for COVID-19?

I've written a blog post for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).  It begins: One widely touted response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to “flatten the curve” — to spread COVID-19 infections over time, so that the medical system can cope with them. Yet a cold hard look at the numbers suggests our hospitals cannot cope with the most flattened of curves. Indeed, they cannot cope with any kind of curve at all. Canada has 1.95 acute care hospital beds per 1,000 people, fewer than...

Read More »

Postmodern Economic Measurement: There is no number, only numbers

National income accounting distills a nation's economy into a single number: gross domestic product. GDP has been critiqued many times for its neglect of household production, environmental degradation, income distribution, and so on.  Many alternatives have been proposed, such as genuine progress indicators, happiness measures, the Human Development Index, the Better Life Index, well-being indexes, or prosperity indexes. Yet none have dethroned GDP as the king of economic indicators....

Read More »

Does (cohort) size matter?

In the US, the portion of young men between the ages of 18 to 34 who report having at least one partner has fallen substantially in recent years (sorry for the small image size):Charts similar to the one above have prompted talk of a sex recession. Yet worries that Millennials are killing sex (as well as napkins, diamonds, and casual dining) may be premature. This data comes from the GSS, which samples a few hundred people between the ages of 18 and 34. The 95 percent confidence intervals...

Read More »

Why do I have to collect my pension already?

Ontario's Ford government has a plan to induce professors over 71 to retire. I wrote a column in the Globe and Mail about it. Here's a sneak peak: Nearly one in 10 Ontario university professors is over the age of 65. As of 2016, these professors were earning, on average, $184,947 a year. Moreover, because federal legislation requires all taxpayers to start drawing down their retirement savings at the age of 71, septuagenarian professors can collect a six-figure pension on top of a...

Read More »

About that EKOS poll

A recent EKOS poll found "the incidence of [Canadians] thinking there are too many visible minorities is up significantly and no longer trails opposition to general immigration (as it has historically)." Here is a picture that shows the question EKOS asked, and the long-term trend in Canadians' responses to this question (click on the picture to make it bigger): The poll generated a certain amount of discussion (e.g. here and here). Andray Domise, writing in Macleans, observed: And given...

Read More »