Kvinnor för fred och ryska militärutgifter

I korthet: Det här inlägget är en insändare. Det publicerades den 25/11 i Ystads Allehanda här som svar på proryskt nonsens från en lokal avdelning av “Kvinnor för fred”.

English summary: This post is a letter to a Swedish newspaper. It is a reply to a pro-Kremlin group whose members call themselves “Women for Peace”, in Swedish “Kvinnor för fred”. They and other “peace activists” always compare Russia’s mitlitary expenditures in absolute numbers to claim that USA and other countries spend much more. I show that absolute numbers are meaningless in comparisons. In order to show the priorities of governments, military expenditures should be related to other government expenditures, for example expenditures on health care. The Kremlin spends more money on the military than on health for its people. The White House spends more money on the American people’s health than on its military. The Kremlin use its military to fight a war against Ukraine and terrorise the people in occupied Crimea and Donbas.


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The Econometrics of Holodomor.

Spoiler: Using a large new data set based on Soviet sources, Markevich et.al. show that the Holodomor was a deliberate attack on Ukrainians by Stalin. (If you like me want to read the whole paper, you can buy it here for $5 plus taxes.)

Since Ukrainian mortality rates were not higher during the famine 1892 or before and after the famine years 1932-1933, there must be other factors at play. These factors were Stalin and his henchmen. Using econometric methods, Markevich et. al. show that higher famine mortality in ethnic Ukrainian areas was the result of Stalin targeting Ukrainians wherever they were living. Centrally planned policies targeted Ukrainians populated areas in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine specifically. In these countries, in provinces in these countries, in districts in provinces in these countries. Wherever there was a concentration of Ukrainians, larger grain procurements were implemented, harsher collectivisation measures were implemented, and tractors were denied.

Markevich et. al. reach this conclusion through econometric analyses.  In the analyses, a large number of factors which potentially could explain the higher Ukrainian excess mortalities, are controlled for. This doesn’t affect the conclusion.

The only thing left is Stalin. Stalin’s hatred of Ukrainians explains the higher mortality rates in areas with a high Ukrainian share of the population.

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What are Swedish midwifes doing?

Spoiler: Swedish midwifes are doing the wrong things. Despite what the media report about the midwifes’ work-life conditions, we have never had so many midwifes in Sweden.That may partly be explained by a favourable wage development. Midwifes’ wages relative all other professions have increased over the years.

Since the number of births have increased less than the number of midwifes, midwifes should be able to spend more time with delivering women and their infants. So why can’t they? Because they’re doing more and different tasks than before. Therefore, hiring more midwifes or raising their wages won’t help.

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Confusions about democracy and prosperity

Spoiler: in a previous post, I claimed that there was a positive relationship between prosperity and high quality institutions. Some people go further and argue that democracy leads to growth and prosperity as this influential study argues. Other people think that the causality is reversed. The effects of democracy on growth and prosperity occur through better conditions for people to engage in entrepreneurial activities, to save, and invest in both physical and human capital. These conditions are determined by the quality of institutions.

Property rights, rule and law and control of corruption are regarded as key institutions for growth. But not everyone is convinced which you can see here. Critics of instutions’ role for growth and prosperity see the devleopments of traditional growth theory variables as independent of institutional changes.

In this post I will have a look at some countries where it seems that institutions don’t matter (much) or that growth precedes democracy and high-quality institutions. And maybe you can have high quality institutions that are good for growth without democracy. You can also find examples of countries where the regimes don’t seem to care a lot of growth, on the contrary, they fear growth as it may serve to undermine them.

If you’re not confused now, don’t worry. You will be.

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