Valentina Romei

Keith Fray and Valentina Romei

During the six years from 2007 to 2013 the annual output of the Greek economy fell by more than 26 per cent. On the FT’s statistics desk we wanted to know how that fall ranked compared with sustained periods of economic retrenchment and dislocation in other countries. Read more

Valentina Romei

The number of hours worked per person in employment has fallen in most advanced countries since the financial crisis. The UK is among the few countries where the shift toward shorter-hours employment has been reversed. Read more

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In the last week, much of the discussion around Greece’s travails has been around the need for further modernisation and progress made since the crisis. On one side the economist Francesco Giavazzi emphasised the continued need for structural reforms, while Karl Whelan stressed the huge improvements made by the Greek government in terms of reforms, public spending and fiscal consolidation.

Measuring a country’s level of “modernity” is not easy, but the following charts attempt to show how Greece compares and what has changed since the financial crisis. Read more

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Only 45 per cent of Greeks felt like they were citizens of the EU when last surveyed, the lowest share of any member country. Britons and Italians follow closely behind, with roughly only half of those surveyed feeling like EU citizens. Read more

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Leo and his mother walk past a primary school in South-East London, just around the corner from their house. The 4 year-old asks why he is not attending that school, as they still have to walk another five minutes to the bus station, spend 40 minutes on the bus and then walk another five minutes to reach the school he actually attends.

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Connections with family and friends are the most popular route to a job in Spain, with close to half of Spaniards and two-thirds of foreigners using this method. Only a small proportion used job agencies.

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“The good school” is the title of the reform to the Italian educational system proposed by the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that was approved by the lower chamber of parliament on the 20th of May and that now needs to be approved by the upper chamber in the next few weeks.

In the words of the Ministry of Education Stefania Giannini the reform is aimed at improving “autonomy, transparency, responsibility, fair valuation and merits” in the educational system. The reforms involve funding for hiring thousands of temporary teachers on permanent contracts, more training, the introduction of a one year trial for new teachers and larger school autonomy among other – sometimes controversial – measures. Read more

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The growth in Chinese import has been slowing since the start of 2011 and actually contracted in the first months of this year due to falling demand and lower commodity prices.

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Gross domestic product (GDP) – the product generated in a country- is similar to the gross national product (GNP) – the income of the country’s residents, in most countries.

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Elena is a 26 year old Italian woman with a degree in child psychology who has been working in London as a nursery teacher for nearly a year. She moved to the UK after months spent looking in vain for a job in Tuscany, a region where the unemployment rate, at 7.9%, is well below the Italian average of 11.3%.

But Elena is not counted among more than 16,000 Italians that moved to the UK, according to official statistics updated for the FT by the Italian Ministry of Interior. These numbers are based on the registry of Italians living abroad (AIRE). Elena has a vague knowledge of this register but decided not to sign up for fear of losing important rights and services (including healthcare) in her home country. Read more

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Chinese exports increased by 4.3 per cent in December compared to the same month last year, while imports rose by 8.3 per cent. That gave China a total of $4.16tn in combined exports and imports in 2013, a figure that the US will find difficult to match. This leaves no doubt that China, the world’s second-biggest economy, is now the world’s biggest trading nation on an annual basis.

Chinese and US trade values were similar in 2012, slightly larger for China according to their respective national data but slightly bigger for the US according to the World Trade Organisation and the International and Monetary Fund. Read more

By Valentina Romei, from the FT’s statistics team

Economic commentators have often expressed concerns that economic growth in China is unbalanced, with an investment-driven model that will not be sustainable in the future unless it is shifted toward a more consumption driven model. Read more

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Just over half of the world’s female population aged 15 to 64 is in employment, compared to more than 8 out of 10 men. But the proportion of economically active women has declined over the last 20 years. This offers us little reason to celebrate today, International Women’s Day.

Despite falling female participation levels, global GDP per capita has risen by more than 30 per cent in the past 20 years, suggesting that economic wealth is not necessarily linked to increasing levels of female economic activity. Read more

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Following on from 10 charts (part 1), which included the first five challenges facing the next Italian government, here are the next five as we head towards Italy’s general election.

1) Corruption

Corruption is a plight for the country that together with bureaucracy prevents an efficient allocation of resources and discourages investment. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Italy 72nd out of 182 countries evaluated in 2012, three positions lower than the previous year. The perception of corruption of Italians is particularly high for the political system, which is one of the main reasons for the country’s political instability and poor governability.

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Italian general elections on February 24 and 25 will determine the members of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate, the two houses of its parliament. This new parliament will face various structural factors behind the country’s weak performance.

Here is the first instalment of the country’s top challenges in 10 charts – another five are set to follow later in the week, so stay tuned.

1) Stagnant economy in the past decade

The Italian gross domestic product is lower than at the beginning of 2001 and the decline does not show signs of reversing. Even Spain and Greece with their deep economic contraction during the crisis are better off than at their levels at the start of the last decade thanks to their strong growth performance before 2008. Italy had sluggish growth even in the first half of the past decade and the additional output that has been created was totally wiped out with the crisis.

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The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 60 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and now accounts for about 14 per cent of all people in employment.

This is a striking contrast with the rest of the OECD countries where the proportion of self-employed is generally declining. In 2011, there were between 2 and 5 percentage points fewer self-employed in South Korea, Turkey, Portugal, Japan and Italy than six years before. Most of the other OECD countries reduced their proportion of self-employed even if more slowly. Read more

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Berlusconi, the billionaire former Italian prime minister pledged to reimburse Italians €4bn for an unpopular property tax. This is probably the first time he has promised to give money back, but it is definitely not the first time he has pledged to cut taxes.

Berlusconi lavished promises of tax cuts periodically throughout the past decade, but he failed to translate them into reality, even when he was in power from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2008 to the end of 2011.

In fact, according to the OECD the average income tax rate increased in Italy across all types of households, whereas it was reduced in most other OECD countries. Read more

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The UK census data revealed that about eight per cent of the resident population speaks a language other than English as their main language.

This is not a large proportion, at least compared with many advanced countries. Read more

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House prices in Europe are falling according to Eurostat’s first house price index. House prices are widely monitored at a national level but there is shortage of comparable measures across countries. This new index partially covers this gap, but the picture it portrays is not encouraging.

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