Top of the Charts: living longer but still losing to Iceland

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Afternoon all,

Today is the one year anniversary of the 2017 general election. Now no-one’s paying it much attention – but that’s mainly because they’ve spent the week distracted by the idea that David Davis’s resignation threat might be sending us back to the polls. That he’s stayed put will have come as a huge relief to Brenda from Bristol and the election haters amongst you. But just in case there’s another twist over the weekend, here’s a look back at the 2017 campaign to remind us that British elections ain’t all bad – if nothing else they can be comedy gold.

To keep you entertained while you wait for the next campaign, here’s this week’s selection of interesting reads – covering everything from living longer to overconfident men. We also bring you worrying news that Iceland are beating us at more than football.

Have a great weekend,


Director, Resolution Foundation


Dying young? The last year has seen a flurry of anxiety that life expectancy is falling – but how worried should we be? Not very. That’s the conclusion from a helpful roundup of the evidence from the (permanently perky) people at Our world in data. But don’t get too chilled if you were born between 1923 and 1938 – you have had your projected life expectancy revised down a bit in the last few years. However, don’t expect too much sympathy from the rest of us – this is the same so-called ‘golden cohort’ that have seen the fastest paced longevity improvements previously. So that’s all fine then. Hopefully.

Overconfident men. We all know there are still highly persistent differences in women’s and men’s outcomes in the labour market. Beside discrimination, children and the rest, a new study points to differences in competitiveness as having a role. Gendered attitudes towards competition turn out to be formed early in life and remarkably persistent. I don’t love everything about the article, but there is a truly damning chart about men in the UK. We win the World Cup of being most overconfident about our mathematics ability compared to women – oh and both genders have exactly the same actual ability. Awkward – but at least we’re winning something.

You paying? Almost everyone agrees the NHS needs more money – you might have seen a great piece of work from the Health Foundation and IFS last week calling for just that. The debate is now heating up about how we might pay for it, ahead of the NHS’s 70th birthday party in July. Gordon Brown called for a national insurance rise this week. We think that isn’t the best way forward. Part of the problem of these debates is that we all want someone else’s taxes to go up – a poll out this week suggests that 88 per cent of those over 65 back Gordon Brown’s idea – which isn’t a massive surprise given that they don’t have to pay National Insurance… More seriously, it’s time for a proper debate about the taxes required to sustain our welfare state. We’ll do our bit at 9am on Tuesday by setting out a full analysis of the options facing the government at an event with Sarah Wollaston (Chair of the Health Select Committee), Jonathan Ashworth (Shadow Health Secretary) and leading pollster Ben Page. Come along or watch it online.

Immoral tech? A blogpost by Josh Dover explores the ethics of Facebook and every other social media product designed to make us addicted (clue – that’s basically all of them). Whole companies exist to optimise user addiction through those pesky push notifications. That might be fine but some argue that time spent on Facebook makes the average user feel worse (although to be fair the evidence isn’t clear cut). Either way we should probably start thinking about this new nicotine.

Germans at war. In late May 154 German economists signed a letter to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung opposing Eurozone reform – reform that most economists outside Germany think is long overdue. This is what German Euroscepticism looks like – Nigel Farage with a spreadsheet. But before you decide this is the usual Germany vs the rest lecture on fiscal prudence, hold off. An article in response by Marcel Fratzscher of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) explains why these views don’t represent the country’s political mainstream and that young Germans support European integration and the further risk pooling that requires. This row is going to run and run.

Chart of the week…The most exciting event of the summer (after Labour Live, of course) is almost upon us. As the chart below shows, England fans hungry for success at the World Cup might be better off watching the ONS website on Tuesday than the football – we are genuinely great at employment. It turns out however that the Icelanders are better than us at both football and job creation – we’re not even close to getting our revenge for Euro 2016. Elsewhere, France is currently top of a grim relegation zone – or as we normally call it in employment terms, the Mediterranean…