Economist 4/24/14

  1. Over the next 20 years the global population of those aged 65 or more will almost double, from 600m to 1.1 billion.In the rich world, well-educated people increasingly work longer than the less-skilled. Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate.Policy is partly responsible. Many European governments have abandoned policies that used to encourage people to retire early. Rising life expectancy, combined with the replacement of generous defined-benefit pension plans with stingier defined-contribution ones, means that even the better-off must work longer to have a comfortable retirement.Wealthy old people will accumulate more savings, which will weaken demand. Inequality will increase and a growing share of wealth will eventually be transferred to the next generation via inheritance, entrenching the division between winners and losers still further.One likely response is to impose higher inheritance taxes. So long as they replaced less-fair taxes, that might make sense.Age should no longer determine the appropriate end of a working life. Mandatory retirement ages and pension rules that discourage people from working longer should go. Welfare should reflect the greater opportunities open to the higher-skilled.
  2. NEW HAMPSHIRE has just failed to abolish the death penalty—by one vote.Non-whites, who will one day be a majority, are solidly opposed. Six states have abolished it since 2007, bringing the total to 18 out of 50. The number of executions each year has fallen from a peak of 98 in 1999 to 39 last year .Some feel that death is the only fitting punishment for murderers: that it satisfies society’s need for retribution.  The murder rate is far higher in America than in the European Union, which has no death penalty. It is also higher in American states that carry out executions than in states that do not. The murder rate is far higher in America than in the European Union, which has no death penalty. It is also higher in American states that carry out executions than in states that do not. An unintended consequence of this is that executing a murderer is now perhaps three times more expensive than locking him up for life.
  3. But the number of corporate jets in China—fewer than 400—is smaller than in lesser emerging markets like Brazil and Mexico.he government, long the biggest obstacle to growth, is changing its attitude. Until now over-regulation has made importing jets costly, training local pilots complex and filing flight plans cumbersome. An anti-corruption drive by the newish government of President Xi Jinping has led state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to shun jets. An aviation-industry veteran says SOE executives once made up perhaps 15% of the local jet-leasing market before the crackdown, but that figure today is 5%.. China has fewer than 400 airports for civil use today, whereas small jets can land at 18,000 fields across America. The armed forces have recently given up some big blocks of air space they had previously reserved for training, and handed over about a dozen military airfields for civil aviation.Gulfstream, an American manufacturer of big business jets. His firm has sold over 100 in China, many of them top-end models, and holds the biggest market share. The mainland’s private-jet fleet has more than doubled in the past three years, and grew by roughly a fifth last year. Bombardier, a Canadian builder of business jets, forecasts that from 2013 to 2032 Chinese customers will take delivery of more than 2,400 of them.
  4. POLITICAL apologies are rarely so awkward. In 2012 Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, explained in a short film why he had broken a promise to vote against raising university tuition fees.When the coalition government raised fees paid by students in England (Scotland and Wales have their own policies) from around £3,300 to £9,000 a year, the idea was to boost universities’ incomes while cutting the amount of taxpayer cash spent on undergraduate teaching. State-backed student loans, repayable only when graduates begin earning, were extended to cover the cost of the higher fees.The system can save the government money only if students do indeed repay their loans. Under the rules, graduates repay 9% of any income they earn over £21,000. Meanwhile, debt accumulates interest at the rate of inflation plus up to 3%. If they are not fully repaid, loans are written off after 30 years. 
  5. The EUVOX voting tool is the brainchild of a group of academics whose original “Kieskompas” has become a staple in the Netherlands and Sweden, where a quarter of voters used it at the last national elections. The group has since created tools for elections in 40 other countries, including Egypt, Mexico and Israel, and now the European Commission has subsidised one as well. Questions are tailored per country but the themes are similar: the economy (for example should funds be redistributed to poorer areas), society (should gay marriage be allowed) and Europe (should immigration be restricted). Along with the “match”, the user can then click on what each party has said about each question and can filter according to the issues they care about.

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