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Je suis Charlie: The challenge of Hebron and old people #nlpoli

The C.D. Howe Institute released a policy brief on Thursday that argues that demographic changes will hit the people of Newfoundland and Labrador very hard in the years ahead.

This is not a new issue, as the report notes right at the beginning.  In fact,  the crowd at the C.D. How Institute make it pretty clear everyone knew the problem was coming.  The only question was whether the impact would be gradual over time or we’d hit it like a wall.

Pay attention to this little report. If you have been asleep for the past 10 years take the few minutes to skim the words, charts, and graphs.

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Legacy of Faulty Assumptions: Hebron Revisited #nlpoli

Hebron is the last of the four, big, offshore discoveries from the 1980s.

It’s due to come into production in 2017 based on a development agreement reached initially in 2007 with the provincial government and finalised in 2008.  There’s a potential problem with current production schedule.  The topsides fabrication is delayed in Korea but we won’t know until the middle of 2015 whether or not there will be further delays that would impact the planned date for first oil in 2017.

Hebron plays a big role in the imagination of the people currently running the province.  Their reaction to the provincial government’s financial problems is based, in part, on the expectation that Hebron will bring huge amounts of new cash into provincial coffers.

But with oil prices down,  people are starting to consider that those assumptions about an imminent return to insanely fat oil royalties might be a bit off . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Legacy of Faulty Assumptions: Hebron Revisited #nlpoli

The Progressive Economics Forum: More on Demographics, Demand, and Canada’s Falling Employment Rate

My post last week on the continuing decline in the employment rate in Canada (to below 61.5% in April, barely higher than the low point reached in the 2008-09 recession) has sparked some continuing discussion about the role of demographic change in explaining that decline (as opposed to a shortage of labour demand).

Is the decline in the employment rate due to weak labour market conditions, or is it due to the ageing of the workforce (as a result of which a larger share of the working age population consists of people in older age categories which normally have (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Budget consultations and other political insanity #nlpoli

This year it is Charlene Johnson’s turn to host a series of meetings across the province that the provincial Conservatives cynically tout as a way for people to have some input into the provincial budget.

It’s cynical because – as the Conservatives know – the major budget decisions are already made before the finance minister heads to the first of these meetings. They are a waste of time.

The people who show up at these sessions have no idea what the actual state of the province’s finances are. The provincial government hides the real numbers until budget day.   Therefore the people who show up can’t offer any sensible suggestions, anyway.  Instead, they wind up begging like a bunch of serfs for more cash for this and more cash for that, even though the cash isn’t really available.

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Robert Reich writes about the basic economic lessons the U.S. has forgotten since its postwar boom: First, America’s real job creators are consumers, whose rising wages generate jobs and growth. If average people don’t have decent wages there can be no real recovery and no sustained growth. In those years, business boomed because American workers were getting raises, and had enough purchasing power to buy what expanding businesses had to offer. Strong labor unions ensured American workers got a fair share of the economy’s gains. It was a virtuous cycle. Second, the (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The (un)booming economy and population growth

“Bullshit,” wrote philosopher Harry Frankfurt a few years ago, “is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.”

Enter Danny Williams, Doc O’Keefe, and Tom Hann.

The  T’ree Amigos dismissed the Conference Board of Canada’s recent population projection for the province with the simple argument that the booming economy  in the province – due largely to oil – would attract people here in droves.

That’s a really interesting idea because we can actually look at the evidence available to see if that might be true.  The province has been doing very well economically for the past decade.  Arguably, the province was even doing fairly well for the decade before that, compared to the 1970s and 1980s what with oil development that started in the early 1990s.

So what happened?

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Understanding Population Changes #nlpoli

It seems like Danny Williams can’t go two weeks without getting his mug on the news so it wasn’t surprising that on Monday the Old Man called the media together to unveil the latest name for his land development project south of Mount Pearl.

He wants to call it Galway.  Nice for his mom. But not really very newsworthy especially since to the rest of us, the land development scheme will always be Udanda or one of the dozen other names local wags have stuck on the thing.

After the show, reporters asked the Old Man about the latest population projection for the province.  This one is from the Conference Board of Canada and it concludes – not surprisingly – that the longer term trend for the population in Newfoundland and Labrador is downward.

“In my opinion, it’s absolute bullshit,”   said Williams.

It isn’t bullshit, of course, and despite what . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Understanding Population Changes #nlpoli

The Progressive Economics Forum: Do High Tuition Fees Make for Good Public Policy?

This afternoon I gave a presentation to Professor Ted Jackson’s graduate seminar course on higher education, taught in Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. The link to my slide deck, titled “The Political Economy of Post-Secondary Education in Canada,” can be found here.

Points I raised in the presentation include the following:

-Tuition fees have been rising in Canada for roughly the past three decades. Yet, individuals in the 25-44 age demographic have the highest levels of household debt in Canada. This raises an important question: Is it good public policy to be saddling this demographic (Read more…)

drive-by planet: New Exodus

Autonomy For All: Toronto’s Wards By Population Density

These are Toronto’s current 44 wards listed in order of decreasing population density, expressed in number of people per square kilometre.  The colours indicate which pre-amalgamation city a given ward is grouped under.  Some wards cross these previous borders, such as ward 26, which covers both North York and East York.  Still, it gives you a pretty good picture of Toronto’s population density: The top 5 wards are in the pre-amalgamation version of Toronto (“Old Toronto”) All 10 Old Toronto wards are in the top 12 for density The lowest density ward (#2) is also the ward (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Homelessness Policy

This afternoon, I gave a presentation on public policy responding to homelessness in Canada, with a focus on the past decade. I gave the presentation at this year’s annual conference of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.

Points I made in the presentation include the following:

-Once inflation is accounted for, the current annual value of federal funding for homelessness programming (now known as the Homelessness Partnering Strategy) has eroded to roughly 36% of its original value (that is, its value in 1999 when it was known as the National Homelessness Initiative).

-In recent years, it has become trendy (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Boom and the Un-Boom #nlpoli

Ask people in the St. John’s business community about the economy and they are likely to have trouble holding back the grin long enough to get a few words out.

Look around Capital City and you’ll see plenty of job vacancies in the restaurants and small shops.

Meanwhile,  some locals found it newsworthy this Labour Day weekend to note that the companies building the Long Harbour nickel smelter/refinery have had to bring in skilled workers from overseas to fill jobs the local labour pool can’t supply.

All sounds wonderful, until you start to look a little closer.

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Demographics in pictures #nlpoli

If you look at nothing else this week, take a look at a comment by  Matthew Kerby called “’Representative’ by population in Newfoundland and Labrador”. 

Before Kerby was a political scientist at the University of Ottawa, he practiced the craft at Memorial University.  He still takes an interest in the goings-on down this way and the population growth strategy caught his attention.

He’s got a good handle on the problem, noting the financial implications for the provincial government.  To illustrate the population trends, Kerby took the provincial government’s own forecasts and produced a set of

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Demographics in pictures #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Populations #nlpoli

Ross Reid has a new job. 

He used to be federal fisheries minister. 

Since 2003 or so, Ross has been a deputy minister in the provincial government.

Lots of people got excited last week when Premier Kathy Dunderdale announced that Reid would be deputy minister responsible for the provincial government’s population growth strategy.

Yeah, well, maybe people need to take a closer look before they get their knickers in a bunch.

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Populations #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Creating a Baby Boom. Not. #nlpoli

Flip over to the Occupy NL blog and you’ll see a critique of some recent SRBP posts on the provincial government’s bonus cash for live babies program.

Let’s summarise the critique and then go from there.  While this summary will get you through this post, to be fair and to make sure that nothing gets missed, go read the full post with all the charts included at Occupy NL.

The author takes issue with the SRBP approach in the initial post in the December series, which looked at the total number of births. He contends that we should look at “the average number of live births a woman can expect in her lifetime based on age-specific fertility rates in a given year.  Secondly, his analysis doesn’t acknowledge that declining birth rates is a trend nation-wide and that provincial rates should be compared to what is happening in other provinces.”

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Creating a Baby Boom. Not. #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Fertility Rates: a different perspective #nlpoli

Via Occupy Newfoundland and Labrador,  a different take on the success of the bootie call from the one presented in this corner recently.


The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Teens and 40s #nlpoli

As the last instalment in our survey of birth rates, let’s take a look at the group 15 to 19 and the other end of the scale for statistics, women aged 40-44 at the time of the child’s birth.

The blue line is the number of births to mothers between ages 15 and 19.  From 810 births in 1991 down to 321 in 2010.  Note, though that the low point on the blue line is 2005 at 254.  Since then the number of births to mothers between 15 and 19 has risen steadily.  The rate is

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Teens and 40s #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The 30-Somethings #nlpoli

The number of babies born to mothers in their 30s in Newfoundland and Labrador has declined over the past couple of decades.  But the drop isn’t as dramatic as the decline among the 20-somethings.

What stands out in this chart is the way the older age cohort – 35-39 – hasn’t declined as dramatically as the younger ones.  The 30-34s basically match the 20-somethings, dropping from about 25,000 to around 15,000.  But the older group actually peaked in 1993 but only declined by about 7,000 births per year


The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The 20-Something Birth Rates #nlpoli

As we told you a couple of weeks ago, it doesn’t look like the provincial government’s policy of paying cash for live births produced any improvement in the birthrate in the province except for the year they announced the bonus cash.

If you look at the number of births by the mother’s age the lack of effect is more obvious than the gross numbers.

Let’s start with the 20s, an age range when we might expect women would start having babies.

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The 20-Something Birth Rates #nlpoli

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Limits of Demography

Here is a piece I wrote for today’s Globe Economy Lab re the Department of Finance report on the costs of an aging society.

The key point is that the mainstream doom and gloom projections of the costs of falling labour force growth ignore the positive impacts which can be expected as and when we get to a situation of tight labour markets. If we actually get to a low unemployment rate because of fewer labour force new entrants, participation rates of older age groups will rise and we can confidently expect labour productivity growth to increase. Sure, there will

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: The Limits of Demography

CuriosityCat: The Republican Party: SS Titanic and the coming iceberg

SS Republican aka Titanic

The Tea Party is winning the battle to be captain on board the good ship Republican, but just as they are about to grasp the wheel and heel the ship even more over to starboard, some in the party have noticed one startling fact: There is an iceberg on the horizon. And it is a huge one. The party seniors have suddenly realized that the Grand Old Party really is a party of and for white Americans. Don’t believe that? Then consider this: 87% of its voters are white:

The numbers tell the tale. Minorities

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: The Republican Party: SS Titanic and the coming iceberg End of Summer Polls: Trends

Polling is a long haul game. Jitters of points inside margins of errors don’t showcase who has different levels of support or who is the newest front runner in the media past time of political horse races. So as an avid political watcher I take a step back and look at the long term trends [...]

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Alberta-bound #nlpoli

This graph will likely cause some people to scratch their chins or heads.  The reason is simple:  it isn’t the story they’ve been told, namely the one that holds that all our ills of outmigration and the like vanished after 2003.

In fact, if you look at it, outmigration from Newfoundland and Labrador to Alberta has been greatest over the last 10 years or so.

The outmigration peak before then was after the federal support cash from the cod moratorium disappeared.

The lowest points in recent years came during the recession.  And the highest quarter of outmigration to

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Alberta-bound #nlpoli

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on why we shouldn’t limit the range of possible contenders in the Saskatchewan NDP’s leadership race – and the number of supporters an outside candidate might need to reach in order to find a place on a final ballot.

Demographics from the column are found here (as to Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal population) and here (as to the urban/rural numbers).

The Progressive Economics Forum: Canada’s Self-Imposed Crisis in Post-Secondary Education

On June 7, I gave a keynote address to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Education Sector Conference. My PowerPoint presentation (with full references) can be found at this link.

Points I raised in the address include the following:

-Canada’s economy has been growing quite steadily over the past three decades, even when one adjusts for inflation, and even when one accounts for population growth. The exceptions, of course, occur during recessions.

-Yet, since the early 1980s, the federal government has been spending less, relative to GDP. Since that time, it has spent less on both “program expenses” and debt-servicing

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Canada’s Self-Imposed Crisis in Post-Secondary Education