The UK economy has finally recovered. Today’s estimate by the Office for National Statistics of gross domestic product for the second quarter takes output (adjusted for inflation) to a new high, above the level of the first quarter of 2008*.
Hurrah. But, although welcome, this is nothing to celebrate. The government will not be ordering church bells to be rung. That the sum total of everything produced in the economy is only now returning to the levels of six years ago is astonishing. To give some context, the recession and recovery have lasted about nine months longer than the second world war. Read more
In case you’ve forgotten, England did take part in the 2014 World Cup. But despite uncharacteristically low expectations from the watching English public, Roy Hodgson’s side slunk under this low bar, flying home after two defeats and a goalless draw with the global footballing powerhouse Costa Rica.
What went wrong? Countless theories abound – some better than others – but some relatively simple maths may be able to explain at least one of the factors involved: statistically speaking, England were bereft of luck. Read more
The offensive of insurgent groups led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) has taken Iraq to the brink of a sectarian civil war. Iraq’s army buckled under the advance last week, allowing Sunni militants to over-run major towns and cities, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
While Isis aims to wipe away post-colonial borders to create an Islamic state across much of Syria and Iraq, it joined with other Sunni insurgent groups opposed to the Shia government in Baghdad. With Kurds in northern Iraq also seeing an opportunity to consolidate greater autonomy, the crisis theatens Iraq’s very existence. Read more
The 2013 British Social Attitude survey, released today, mainly focuses on questions of national identity and alongside asking everyone about questions on immigration and Britishness, asks Scots specifically a set of questions about their attitudes to nationhood and independence. Read more
736 players have travelled to Brazil for the World Cup. The diagrams below show how their individual skillsets help create their national team’s identity. Read more
As an aid to debates about the referendum on whether Scotland should be independent from the UK, Britain’s Office for National Statistics has published a compendium that allows for comparisons to be made between the four countries of the UK.
Thanks, in part, to devolution, the UK has four organisations that produce official statistics: the Office for National Statistics, the Scottish Government, StatsWales and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency who all release different surveys that gather data in different ways.
The Office for National Statistics has, for the first time, included estimates of the impact of prostitution and illegal drugs in the national accounts. By the ONS’ reckoning they add about £10bn to the British economy.
Estimates of anything to do with the black economy are always going to be uncertain at best, but the statistics available are pretty interesting. Read more
The full regional breakdown of results and turnout in Ukraine’s presidential election is shown in the interactive graphic above, including figures for individual stations within Donetsk and Lugansk. Read more
Voters will go to the polls in all 32 London boroughs, 36 metropolitan authorities and handful of other councils on May 22. This interactive map and cartogram shows the current state of parties in the local authorities holding elections, and some of the possible scenarios for the elections’ outcomes.
This interactive graphic shows the full results of India’s general election. Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in the world’s largest democracy, winning a straight majority without the need for allies – the first such victory for a single party in three decades. Read more
Before a measure of inequality can be calculated there are some questions that need to be answered: Chiefly, equality of what? Living standards? Wealth? Income? Or, perhaps, opportunity?
And what do you include? Is income measured before tax and benefits, or after? Do you include public goods in measures of living standards? How do you account for public assets and debts in wealth?
And who are the relevant people? The whole world or one country? Do you include students and children or just adults of working age?
The level of inequality measured will always depend on how these questions are answered.
The British Wealth and Assets survey, released today, provides measures of inequality in private wealth (so not including public debts and assets) between different households.
And households come in different shapes and sizes.
Individuals who are married or widowed are the most likely to live in a wealthier household. Whereas those who are separated, divorced or single are the least likely.
Wage growth has risen by more than inflation for the first time since 2010 and employment has grown by the largest amount for 24 years, according to figures released by the ONS today.
Given this context its worth taking a look at the performance of Britain’s labour market since the 2008 financial crisis.
1. Despite lacklustre GDP growth employment has been steadily increasing since 2010. Read more
By Paul Hodges
The toy industry is going through difficult times as Lex highlighted recently. Profits at Toys R Us have halved since 2009, whilst Mattel is suffering due to poor sales of Barbie dolls. A dismal Christmas at the UK’s Mothercare led the departure of its chief executive. Read more
by Nassos Stylianou and John Burn-Murdoch
Between May 22 and 25, some 400 million people will be eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections. But how many of them will actually turn up at the ballot box?
Following 2009 treaty changes, the European Parliament will for the first time have a more direct role in electing the president of the European Commission , the EU’s executive arm, giving May’s election added significance.
Despite the increasing influence of the European Parliament, the percentage of those voting to elect its members has fallen in every election, from 62 per cent in 1979’s inaugural direct elections through to 43 per cent in 2009.
At the last European elections five years ago, less than half of those eligible voted in 18 of the 27 member states. In six countries, the turnout was below 30 per cent. In one country, Slovakia, less than one in five of those eligible voted.
Turnout in Germany, France and Italy – founding members of the common market – has eroded by more than 20 percentage points since then. In the UK, turnout was already low at 32.3 per cent in 1979 and levels have remained consistently below 40 per cent ever since.
However, several of the newer member states such as Estonia, Latvia and Bulgaria recorded a surge in turnout in 2009.
The New York Times asked yesterday whether Americans with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television and a computer with an Internet connection can be described as “poor”.
In the United States, material goods – televisions, computers and cars – are at their most affordable in ten years, all having steadily dropped in price since 2005.
However, the cost of items that have traditionally helped pull Americans out of poverty – education, childcare and healthcare – have become far more expensive. Families’ everyday expenses also remain under strain from a steady increase in the cost of food and little change in the price of housing.
What would the same analysis of the cost of living look like in the UK?
We created a UK version of the chart in the New York Times’ story, using real prices calculated from the British consumer price index. The story was pretty similar:
Under a remote mountainside in Guinea, one of west Africa’s poorest but most mineral-rich nations, lies one of the world’s biggest undeveloped deposits of iron ore.
Developing the Simandou deposit and building the railway and port required to export the ore are expected to cost an estimated $20bn – three times Guinea’s gross domestic product. Read more
Elections for the European Parliament will take place between May 22 and May 25, against a backdrop of a slow economic recovery and fears of a rise in populist parties such as Britain’s anti-EU UK Independence party led by Nigel Farage and France’s far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen.
This interactive graphic shows the results of the previous election in 2009. Read more