What are the Think Tanks Thinking? (May 22)

Terrance Hunsley
Terrance Hunsley

This week we take a snapshot of The Broadbent Institute, The Fraser Institute,  Queens University School of Policy Studies, Third Way (USA),  The Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, The House of Commons HUMA Committee, C D Howe Institute, Nature Briefing,  World Economic Forum, the Brookings Institution



The Broadbent Institute

….on UBI

The Broadbent Institute hosted a webinar to look at the concept of Universal Basic Income. The analysis was essentially negative to the idea, based on the notion that the current working age generation is too small to pay for that as well as the older generation. (A rebut to this analysis has been posted on SocialCanada.org, entitled Let’s Avoid Circular Firing Squads.)

A Broadbent senior adviser, Andrew Jackson has posted an article, proposing as an alternative to Basic Income,  increases the Workers Benefit and the Child Benefit.  



The Fraser Institute

….has published its “tax freedom day” as being May 19th. 

In 2020, we estimate the average Canadian family (consisting of two or more people) earning $115,735 will pay $43,671 in total taxes—or 37.7 per cent of their income. In other words, if you paid all your taxes for 2020 up front, you’d give government every dollar you earned before May 19—Tax Freedom Day. After working the first 139 days of the year for government, you’re now working for yourself and your family.

The analysis does not provide an estimate of what it would cost the average Canadian family to purchase individually, all of the services they receive from all levels of government. fraser.institute@fraserinstitute.org



Nature Briefing

…. reports that global carbon emissions have so far been cut by more than 8%, or three times the annual emissions of Italy. But it is already starting to rebound.   




World Economic Forum

One of the vaccines furthest down the line is being developed by biotech company Moderna. Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel, talking on the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, argues that in some ways we got lucky with this virus. Although thousands have tragically died, unlike previous outbreaks such as the 1918 flu outbreak, children seem to be largely unaffected; equally, the virus itself is not very complex. HIV, by contrast, was discovered in the early 1980s and there is still no vaccine. Work on other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS has also given us a head-start, he points out.




Evidence provided to House of Commons HUMA Committee

Paul Davidson, CEO, Universities Canada

…for students to succeed, universities also need to be strong. Like most sectors of the economy, universities have been profoundly impacted by the pandemic. One of the biggest sources of revenue for Canadian universities and their communities is international student revenues. They contribute more to Canada’s economy than the export of softwood, more than the export of wheat and more than the export of auto parts. They contribute $6 billion in tuition revenue to universities annually. For many institutions, international students contribute over 50% of tuition revenue. 



C D Howe Institute

John Richards writes,

From the first CWB index in 1981 to 2016, the average First Nation CWB score (range from 0-100) has risen from 45.0 to 58.4, the Inuit score from 46.1 to 61.3, and the non-Indigenous score from 64.5 to 77.5. “Despite all three scores rising, gaps between non-Indigenous and either First Nation or Inuit communities have remained nearly constant,” says Richards

“Affirmation of treaties and Indigenous culture over the last quarter century has been valuable,” concludes Richards. “However, there is no silver bullet to resolve the social problems in First Nation communities with low CWB scores. Addressing the problems will require recognition of First Nation treaty claims over resource-related employment, competent First Nation governance, acceptance of out-migration as part of the solution – and higher quality schools.”




Third Way (USA)

Michael Itzkowitz writes about a new measure of the cost of getting a degree or diploma relative to the time it takes to pay back the cost based on the wage dividend provided by the credential. The majority of credentials pay for themselves within five years. On the other hand, 14% of institutional credits provide no return on investment at all.




The Brookings Institution

Gale, Gelfond, FIchtner, and Harris, The Wealth of Generations with Special Attention to the Millenials

We examine household wealth across birth cohorts and over time using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances. We show that although the Great Recession reduced wealth in every age group, longer-term trends indicate that the wealth of older age groups has increased while the wealth of younger age groups has declined. A substantial share of these changes, in both directions, can be explained by changes in household demographic and economic characteristics. As for the millennial generation, their median wealth in 2016 was lower than the wealth of any similarly aged cohort between 1989 and 2007. Millennials will have several advantages in wealth accumulation relative to previous generations, such as more education and longer working lives, but also several disadvantages, including weak prospects for economic growth and delays in home purchase and marriage. The millennial generation contains a significantly higher percentage of minorities than previous generations. We estimate that minority households have tended to accumulate less wealth than whites in the past, controlling for household characteristics, and the difference appears to be growing over time for Blacks relative to whites.




The Queens University School of Policy Studies

Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, Richard Johnston, Will Kymlicka and John Myles, have edited a collection entitled Federalism and the Welfares State i a Multicultural World

there are clear trends that, if unchecked, may exacerbate rather than overcome important social cleavages. The editors argue that we are at a crucial moment to re-evaluate the role of social policy in a federal state and a multicultural society, and if federalism and diversity challenge traditional models of the nation-building function of social policy, they also open up new pathways for social policy to overcome social divisions. Complacency about, or naive celebration of, the Canadian model is unwarranted, but it is premature to conclude that the model is irredeemably broken, or that all the developments are centrifugal rather than centripetal.




The Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy

The Economy Post-Covid: New Directions for the Feds

William Cowie suggests that the new economy be based on the following principles:

An economy of fair prices and not cheapest price: The global search for the cheapest price and production costs has led to a race to the bottom… A fair price … would address simultaneously climate change and poverty and precarious work issues.

The market is not always the answer

The welfare/opportunity system must be strengthened.

Taxation is not a dirty word

A revised globalism

The Internet as public utility

A national disability insurance program


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