Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Crisis and Medical Care

From the NBER Digest:


   Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel J. Schneider, and Peter Tufano

Within countries, negative shocks to wealth and employment are strongly associated with reductions in routine medical care.

The global economic crisis, which began roughly in July 2007, took an historic toll on national economies and household finances. In The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Usage (NBER Working Paper No. 15843), co-authors Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel Schneider, and Peter Tufano examine the relationship between the global crisis and individual decisions related to routine medical care. To conduct their study, the researchers survey individuals in Canada, France, Germany, and Great Britain, all of which have universal health care systems, and in the United States, which does not. They find that within all countries, negative shocks to wealth and employment are strongly associated with reductions in routine medical care. The size of the reductions in the use of medical care, however, depends upon the degree to which individuals must pay for it.

Individuals and families across all five developed countries lost wealth through falling stock prices. They also lost income because of unemployment. These effects were strongest in the United States, where nearly 55 percent of American respondents reported some decline in wealth. These losses affected medical care usage. "The greater the reported loss in wealth, the larger the net reductions in routine care," the authors find.

U.S. citizens, lacking universal coverage and paying the highest out-of-pocket amounts for care, reported the most dramatic reduction in seeking routine care during the global economic crisis. Between 2007 and 2009, more than 25 percent of Americans reported reducing their use of health care - a rate two to five times that of Europeans, who also reduced their use of routine medical appointments during this period. Compared with their British counterparts, Americans were 16 percentage points more likely to reduce their use of medical care. The most pronounced reductions were found among the unemployed, the young (ages 16-24), and those with lower incomes.

-- Sarah H. Wright

Gens du Voyage

Yesterday I used the term "gens du voyage," echoing the language of Sarkozy's official declaration to crack down on "les gens du voyage et les Roms." Where does this designation come from? Apparently, according to Le Monde's proofreaders, from administrative reluctance to refer to an ethnic group qua ethnic group (although Sarkozy's announcement, while paying homage to this practice, immediately violated it by adding "et les Rom"). Other less politically correct synonyms can be found here.

As everyone knows, ethnic communities have no official existence in France, so when it is deemed necessary to crack down on one, or merely to regulate, circumlocutions are needed. But of course no one is deceived.

For more on the story, see here:

Ce qui s'est passé à Saint-Aignan n'est pas un problème lié aux gens du voyage. D'autant que, comme l'a souligné le maire de Saint-Aignan, Jean-Michel Dillon (divers droite, ndlr), la victime appartenait, certes, à la communauté des gens du voyage, mais vivait sédentarisée dans un logement "en dur" depuis deux générations et disposait même d'un caveau de famille au cimetière. (Pierre Hérisson, UMP)

In short, we have a crime committed by one of the "traveling people" belonging to a family that hasn't gone anywhere for two generations and buries its dead in the local cemetery. A "sedentary" traveler indeed.

Confidence and Lack of Confidence

The juxtaposition of two articles in today's Le Monde creates an interesting contrast. One states that while the confidence of households has touched a new low, that of industrialists is at a new high. The other reports on  difficulties in labor negotiations at a GM plant in Strasbourg. Workers, having just voted to grant a number of concessions to management, find themselves now confronted with still other demands not mentioned during the original negotiations. Although management claims that these new demands were already known, they were not included in the signed agreement. But apparently the 73% vote by workers to approve the original concessions has emboldened management to come back for more. If les gars are that desperate to keep their jobs, one can imagine them thinking in the board room, why not squeeze them a little more? Is this what management confidence rests on? No wonder households are feeling desperate.

Insults in Politics

Insults in politics are the subject of a new book by Thomas Bouchet, reviewed here.

Ça ira!

In the clip below, Jean-François Copé looks back at the French Revolutiion and observes that it "did a lot of harm" to the country (his reflections on the Revolution begin at 7'30" into the interview). He then jumps from the night of August 4, 1789, when privileges were abolished in France, to the Bettencourt scandal, which he links, implicitly, to resentment of "privilege" associated with that "harmful" Revolution («le ah ça ira, n'est plus d'époque: les temps sont passés»; «la révolution a fait beaucoup de mal et a fracturé la société»). The France of Copé's dreams is one in which "every Frenchman, of whatever ethnic or religious background," is "free to succeed" and to enjoy, unmolested by oppressive taxes such as the ISF (wealth tax, discussed earlier in the clip), the fruits of that success. There you have it in unadulterated form: the resentment of inequality, according to this leader of the Right, is the root of all evil, from the French Revolution to the persecution of Éric Woerth. Astonishing, no? The American Right dreams only of rolling back the New Deal. The French Right dreams of rolling back the Revolution. (h/t Philippe Cohen)

Jean-François Copé - France Inter
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The Longest War

Le Monde documents Nicolas Sarkozy's long-standing penchant for military rhetoric when speaking of domestic crime.