Freedom and its Fruits: Fertility Over Time in Estonia


Estonians and Latvians are the only independent nations in Europe with fewer people now than at the beginning of the 20th century. It is written in The White Book, 2004, about losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes. During the whole period (1940-1991) nearly 90,000 citizens of the Republic of Estonia perished, and about the same number of people left their homeland forever. It happened in a nation with a population number of about one million. Another nation, through centuries, gradually perished and disappeared from this territory: the Livonians.  read more »

Switzerland: Why EU Immigrants Were Headed Off at the Pass

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The only time the Swiss make US headlines, other than with the occasional Olympic biathlon medal, is when a majority of the voters exercise their franchise by voting down minarets or, as happened this month, banning free immigration from the European Union.

As the most democratic country on earth — major political questions are submitted to a popular vote — Switzerland allows what are called popular initiatives on any issue that can muster 100,000 signatures on a petition. It’s the only country in Europe that operates like "The Gong Show".  read more »


The Changing Face of European Economics: Liberalism Moves North


Where do we find the nations with the highest tax levels? In the mid-90s the answer was quite clear: in Western Europe. Both Denmark and Sweden had a tax rate of 49 percent of GDP in 1996, followed closely by Finland with a 47 percent level. The tax burden was somewhat lower in France, Belgium, Austria and Italy, where rates ranged from 42 to 44 percent of GDP. Thanks to its oil-wealth Norway could afford a Nordic welfare model with 41 percent taxes, the same level as the Netherlands which had recently slimmed down its welfare system considerably. These Western European welfare states were the nine OECD countries with the highest tax rates. The tenth country was Eastern European Hungary with a rate of 40 percent.  read more »

Female Executives Across the European Union


A great divide exists between European countries when it comes to the issues of women’s career opportunities. Some countries have high female work participation and values that promote gender equality, while others lag behind. But a closer look shows that the share of women in managerial positions is in odds with other indicators of equality. Scandinavia, where we might expect to find most female directors and chief executives, has in fact the lowest share.  read more »


Derailing Europe's Bike Trains

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In a fit of what now appears to have been madness, over the last ten days I attempted to live the life of a small plastic figure in an architect’s model community. I wheeled my bike through railroad stations, and took eco-friendly cycle lanes. The goal was to use only a combination of trains and my bicycle to attend a series of meetings in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.  read more »

Moving to the Heart of Europe


Europe's demographic dilemma is well known. Like East Asia and to a lesser degree most of the Western Hemisphere, Europe's birth rates have fallen so far that the population is becoming unable to replenish itself. At the same time, longer  life spans have undermined the poulation’s ability to withstand a growing  old age dependency ratio, challenging the financial ability (and perhaps even willingness) of a smaller relative workforce in the decades to come.  read more »

New Zealand Has Worst Traffic: International Data


Three decades ago, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University began a ground-breaking project to quantify traffic congestion levels in the larger urban areas of the United States. The Urban Mobility Report project was begun under Tim Lomax and David Shrank, who have led the project over the first 30 annual editions.  read more »

Playing Musical Chairs with World Economies


The world’s largest economies seem engaged in something like the children’s game of “musical chairs.” For years, the United States has been the world’s largest national economy, though in recent decades the integrated economy of the European Union has challenged that claim given that the region   includes four of the ten top national economies, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The most recent data, reflecting the deep European recession, indicates that the top position has been retaken by the United States.  read more »

The Dutch Rethink the Welfare State


When the Netherlands’ newly coronated king made his first annual appearance before parliament, he turned some heads when he addressed the deficiencies of the Dutch welfare state.   “Due to social developments such as globalisation and an ageing population, our labour market and public services are no longer suited to the demands of the times”, the king said in a speech written by Liberal prime minister Mark Ruttes cabinet. “The classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a ‘participation society’”, Willem-Alexander continued. By this he meant that the public systems should start encouraging self-reliance over government dependency.  read more »

Is America Flying Europe's Flag?

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Consider the recent government shutdown as a disagreement about how much influence Europe should have on the continuing American revolution. Who would have predicted that, more than 237 years after the United States threw off the English yoke, disagreement over European approaches to life and government would be strong enough to shutter the democratic experiment, or downgrade the nation's credit? And yet, Congress is divided, as it was in 1797, between Royalist Republicans and Jacobin Democrats, arguing about which model of government best suits the young and restless American republic.  read more »