“There is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics” runs the opening sentence on the website of the OECD’s recently created Better Life Index. This is an encouraging stance, given that, until the first decade of this century, economic indicators alone governed the measurement of the wealth and development of societies, despite that choice of quantitative indicators being regularly contested, not least in the columns of Futuribles. For 10 years or so, there has been increasing debate on the need to incorporate other elements (environmental and social factors, in particular) to measure the progress of societies and the OECD itself has moved into this new field by developing novel, more qualitative indicators. Martine Durand offers a view of this Better Life Initiative, launched by the OECD in 2011 and aimed at measuring what contributes to improving both individual and collective well-being. Apart from economic resources and job satisfaction, also assessed are state of health, housing conditions, quality of environment, work-life balance, educational level, community, civic engagement, personal safety and subjective well-being. After presenting this initiative and the value of the exercise, Martine Durand shows the main lessons that flow from it, particularly for France compared to the other member states of the OECD. She particularly stresses the specific attention given in the last edition of the “How’s Life?”report to the situation of children and the impact of voluntary work on individual well-being. Lastly, she highlights the need to incorporate these new indicators measuring well-being into the direction of public policy (as France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom do), so that they contribute effectively to social progress in the fields identified as essential by individuals.
The broad dissemination of information technology and the use of the Internet in very varied fields, both professional and personal, has triggered an unprecedented rush to collect data of all kinds. This data, personalized or pooled, makes up what today we call “big data”, a mass of highly diverse information that can be used for many and varied purposes, depending on the motivations of the companies or bodies exploiting it. In the health sector, the exploitation of big data is a source of both hope (since it may improve the understanding and solution of medical problems) and dangers (excessive monitoring of individual behaviour, ethical questions etc.), and it is important to bear this in mind if society is to gain optimal benefit from the use of this data.
Daniel Eilstein and Jérôme Pozuelos offer an overview here of the data gathered in France today with regard to health, how that data is processed, and the questions raised by the protection of personal data. They also show the perspectives opened up in the medical field by the use of such mass data (particularly through what is called data cross-referencing). Here again, research will have to find a solution to the freedom/security dilemma but, provided certain ethical conditions are respected, some noteworthy advances may well eventuate.
“Wealth is unstable and passing”, wrote the Greek playwright Menander in the 4th century BCE, yet human beings have striven to measure it for centuries. And for many a long year they have done so using exclusively monetary and economic indicators, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite regular objections to this choice of indicators, including in the pages of Futuribles, we had to wait until the 2000s before other elements (particularly, environmental and social factors) were taken into account by the national and international authorities in measuring the wealth and development of societies. Laura Brimont, Damien Demailly and Lucas Chancel remind us here how these new indicators emerged and the uses to which they can be put. They go on to show how they are becoming officially established at the European level and now form part of the medium-to-long-term strategies of the EU –for example, through the “Beyond GDP” initiative or the Europe 2020 strategy. They close by highlighting the issues involved in the establishment of such indicators, in symbolic terms, in terms of politico-economic harmonization and in terms of the evolution of European political priorities, while at the same time deploring a certain disconnect between the academic authorities producing these new indicators and the (political and citizen) actors who are expected to use them.
L’édition 2016 des Images économiques du monde, parue cet automne, consacre son dossier d’ouverture aux tensions internationales qui contrarient de plus en plus fortement la marche du monde. Trois axes sont ici traités : un axe socio-économique (« Une planète humaine sous tension : crise sociale et développement ») qui aborde la question démographique en lien avec l’objectif d’un développement durable, et la question de l’emploi ; un axe géopolitique largement centré sur l’émergence de nouvelles puissances, ses caractéristiques ...
(259 more words)
The comparative educational studies carried out by various —public or private— international bodies have led to analyses and recommendations that have had an important influence on national or sub-national education policies. This is particularly the case with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among other things, the OECD publishes annual indicators and, every three years, the results of evaluations carried out as part of its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which has been profoundly influential in many countries. To which we should add, in the case of EU members, the studies and tools developed by the European Commission through its “Open Method of Coordination”.
In this article, Alain Michel analyses the extent to which the impact of PISA and European recommendations are leading to a certain homogenization of educational policies and curriculums (contents, objectives, modes of assessment, coordination…). He also asks how justified the criticism of the OECD is for its allegedly over-economistic vision of education, and examines the reality of the soft power that organization might be said to exert on national education policies —a power which is, admittedly, driving towards convergence, though without as yet actually standardizing educational systems.
Depuis plus de 70 ans, nous agissons dans un monde « piloté par le PIB [produit intérieur brut] », quoi qu’on en dise et en dépit des nombreuses recherches, contributions et avis publiés sur cette question depuis le rapport du Club de Rome et les premières interrogations sur la croissance, dans le début des années 1970. Pourtant, d’autres indicateurs existent bel et bien, issus de travaux mêlant économistes et statisticiens, voire des citoyens profanes engagés dans des dispositifs comme les ...
(518 more words)
Le biomonitoring humain consiste à analyser, au sein du corps d’une personne, la présence de substances toxiques (dans le sang, les urines, les cheveux, etc.). Cela permet de voir, par une analyse plus ou moins complexe, si l’environnement dans lequel évolue l’individu a ou non un impact sur son organisme et sa santé. De nombreux pays ont recours à cette technique depuis quelques années, notamment l’Allemagne, qui a « biomonitoré » plus de 50 éléments chimiques au cours ...
(1111 more words)
Pesticides, perturbateurs endocriniens, nanoparticules, substances toxiques chimiques variées… : quel est leur impact sur notre santé ? Quel rôle jouent-ils dans le développement des pathologies caractéristiques de notre monde moderne (cancers, obésité, asthme…) ? Comment les données épidémiologiques collectées sont-elles analysées et dans quelle mesure servent-elles à la prise de décision ? Trois chercheurs et professeurs, Francelyne Marano, Robert Barouki et Denis Zmirou, explorent ces différentes questions dans Toxique ? Santé et environnement : de l’alerte à la décision. La première partie de l’ouvrage ...
(570 more words)
With the rise of the Front National, the unearthing of hotbeds of Jihadism and polemics around whether there is social, or even ethnic, apartheid in certain districts, France has, since the January 2015 terrorist attacks, seen an increased level of debate on the existence of social ghettos and the sociology of the individuals who might live in them. And yet, as Bernard Aubry and Michèle Tribalat show here, there are very few reliable figures on which to build an argument one way or another, particularly regarding the origins of the population groups concerned. And the traditional indicators, supposing that they exist and are backed up correctly by the demographic surveys, are not necessarily the most pertinent for observing the sociological evolution of a population in a particular territory and its potential segregation. Drawing on a recent analysis carried out in the USA, Aubry and Tribalat show the relevance and importance of so-called neighbourhood segregation indicators that make it possible to assess the concentration of populations (on a socioprofessional or communal basis) much more subtly and in very precise geographical detail. Using old data available in France, they explain how these kinds of indicators could be developed in that country and what information they would be capable of providing. At the same time, they deprecate the scant interest shown in this by the official statistical institutes, if not indeed their hostility to it. This is an impasse which is, to say the least, deplorable, since whatever the positions defended by the various parties to the debates cited above, they need to be supported by precise data, as it is only on the basis of such data that appropriate political responses can be proposed.
Les brevets sont-ils un indicateur fiable de la compétitivité technologique des entreprises ? La réponse à cette question est loin d’être claire. En effet, peut-on mesurer la qualité d’un brevet, c’est-à-dire sa capacité à déboucher sur des percées techniques ? L’Observatoire des sciences et des techniques (OST) a essayé d’y répondre dans une étude récente portant sur un secteur particulièrement dynamique, celui de l’aéronautique et de la défense . L’OST a traité les données de ...
(1075 more words)
La méthode V3 (« Vision, Valeurs, Volonté ») est un outil de pilotage stratégique et d’évaluation du capital d’une organisation et des décisions envisagées. Elle est issue d'un processus de réflexion collective d'un groupe de travail composé de représentants d'entreprises diverses (Électricité de France-Gaz de France, MAAF Assurances, Renault, Schneider Electric et la SNCF) et de Futuribles International.
For many years France has been faced with a national debt that compels it now –and, no doubt, for a long time to come– to tighten its budget and control its spending as much as possible. In this context of long-term scarcity of budgetary resources, various economic and statistical instruments will have to be deployed to produce a rationalization of public expenditure. Among these, the technique that apportions a statistical value to human life could be used more systematically in the evaluation of public policy, ahead of actual decision-making. This Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) should not be understood as the value conferred on a particular human life, but as the amount the community is prepared to allocate to reduce a risk of death.
Nicolas Treich reminds us of this in this article, which aims to explicate the concept of the value of life in economics, to show how it is calculated and assessed empirically, and also what its role is (particularly in the Anglo-Saxon countries) in public decision-making. The point is that the VSL enables the impact of expenditure, regulation or investment on the risk of death to be evaluated, and thus enables trade-offs to be made. Clearly, these trade-offs are made at community level and still raise a number of questions (which the author reminds us of), particularly where fairness is concerned. Yet, given the budgetary constraints mentioned above, in an increasing number of political decisions, VSL will probably be incorporated into the decision-support criteria. Hence the need for a clear understanding of how it is arrived at and how this tool can be combined with other risk-management approaches and instruments.
As Nicolas Treich shows in his article on the value of a human life in economics in this issue, in a context of the rationalization of budget decisions, the evaluation of public policies might draw more frequently on the statistical value of human life to inform analyses before political decisions are taken. This economic tool is part of the classical arsenal of cost-benefit analysis in the Anglo-Saxon world. Though used less systematically in France, the idea of attributing a value to human life is not entirely new there. As Alain Parant shows, looking back at analyses published almost 40 years ago by the French economist and demographer Alfred Sauvy, it is relatively easy to determine the cost of a human life and to assess the opportunity embodied in it or its “profitability” at different points in the age cycle (depending on whether we are in a stationary or a growing economy). And, though it is more difficult or less “politically correct” to determine its value, Sauvy argues that that value does have a de facto existence in the form of the socio-economic treatment applied to people at different times of their lives, but that this is not always based on sound assessment criteria.
Le vélo, sous ses diverses formes, est de plus en plus performant en termes de vitesse. Mais il ne saurait valablement concurrencer les autres modes de transport, sinon la marche. En revanche, si l’on intègre dans le calcul de la vitesse le temps nécessaire à l’acquisition et à la maintenance (vitesse généralisée), le vélo reprend pied dans la compétition. Et si l’on intègre dans le calcul de la vitesse le maintien de la forme physique et le ...
(772 more words)
Combien sont les sans-abri ? Selon quelles définitions ? Quelles sont les tendances à l’œuvre en France ? Les récents travaux publiés par l’INSEE (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques) permettent de souligner l’augmentation du nombre de « sans-domicile », c’est-à-dire des individus vivant à la rue ou dans les centres pour personnes et ménages qui, en leur absence, seraient à la rue. Une caractéristique principale des évolutions de la population tient dans la progression du ...
(12 more words)
The psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winner for economics in 2002, has contributed to some notable advances in economic theory with his work on “prospect theory”, which goes to the heart of behavioural economics, and, more recently, with his work on the economics of happiness. In a book that appeared in the USA in 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he presents the core of his analyses and theories in a highly concrete form.
Charles du Granrut has read this work for Futuribles and offers a critical review of it here. He begins by outlining the two main styles of thinking of individuals, as Kahneman conceives them –fast and intuitive and/or slow and rational– before going on to note the main “cognitive biases” that are likely, in his view, to impair reasoning (errors, incoherence, prejudices, the halo effect....). Du Granrut then runs through the various criticisms that have been levelled at this analysis of the decision-making process. He also describes Kahneman’s prospect theory and the way it has been applied within the framework of “liberal paternalism” through the “nudge” concept. Lastly, he notes the contribution made by Kahneman’s analyses of individuals’ perceptions of happiness, not just in the economic field but also, and most importantly, in the area of public policy. All in all, Kahneman’s work is now often integrated into traditional economic theory, while enabling us all to be aware of –and hence potentially forearmed against– the various biases inherent in human thinking.
Investment in R&D and innovation has always been, and still remains, a key requirement for the economic success of states. The developed countries learned this long ago, particularly the triad of the USA, Europe and Japan, which were for a long time leaders in the field. However, for several years now, the relative part played by these countries in global research and development has increasingly been challenged by a number of emerging countries, particularly in Asia. And though the economic crisis of recent years has been the occasion for many developed countries to reassert the essential role of investment in R&D and innovation in recovery strategies, it is not certain that this will actually enable those countries to reverse the latent trend that sees the 19th- and 20th-century pioneers losing their supremacy.
Pierre Papon shows here how global research potentials have evolved and which are the leading countries in this area. He also outlines the specializations of the main global actors in international scientific and technical production. He reminds us, in particular, of the slow (but manifest) erosion of European positions in global scientific competition, even if the quality of production remains intact, and stresses, in parallel with this, the rise of the emergent nations, with China and Brazil at their head. Where industrial research is concerned, the trend, according to Pierre Papon, runs in the same direction and it will perhaps be a USA-China-Japan triad that will take over leadership in the coming years. If, indeed, the fine slogans calling for an R&D-led recovery turn out to be as ineffective as the Lisbon strategy was stillborn, it is highly unlikely that the states of Europe will come out of this crisis unscathed in terms of their international scientific and technical positioning.
Le ministère français de l'Écologie, de l'Énergie, du Développement durable et de l'Aménagement du territoire (MEEDDAT) vient de publier une liste de "10 indicateurs clés de l'environnement en France". Ces données brutes et plutôt incomplètes présentent un intérêt lorsqu'elles sont replacées dans le contexte plus global de lutte contre la dégradation de l'environnement. Elles permettent alors d'évaluer les efforts réalisés et le chemin qui reste à parcourir.
Dans un pays où la crise est née du marché immobilier et des subprimes, l'impact de la récession sur les sans-abri peut être très marqué. C'est ce que signalent les premières données et prévisions disponibles. En France, l'appareil statistique ne permet pas de telles évaluations.
La New Economics Foundation (NEF), think-tank britannique, vient d'élaborer, en partenariat avec l'université de Cambridge et l'European Social Survey, un indicateur du bien-être des populations destiné à compléter et / ou remplacer le produit intérieur brut (PIB).
The choice of indicators enabling us to understand the world, society etc. and to act on that understanding has always been central to the concerns of the Futuribles journal. These pages have, in consequence, often seen criticism of the limitations of the French statistical machinery (for measuring migration flows, for example, or the integration of population groups of foreign origin) or of human development indicators, such as those used by the United Nations, which do not take sufficient account of social and environmental aspects.
In this article, Florence Jany-Catrice and Rabih Zotti take this debate forward, presenting a social health indicator (SHI) applicable to the French regions (based on a scale measuring inequality and poverty) that was recently trialled by the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Taking into account the many dimensions that play their part in the social health of an area (education, policing and justice, employment, housing, income, health and social relations), this SHI was applied to the various French regions for 2004 and casts a new light on their levels of social performance. In the main, the urbanized regions come furthest down the scale, whereas others, such as Limousin, emerge as socially successful. Some regions remain at the bottom of the scale whichever indicator is selected. These include Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Languedoc-Roussillon, which are among the stragglers both in terms of income per inhabitant and social health. Generally, however, it was found that good economic health and good social health do not go together systematically.
Combien de jeunes sortent du système scolaire " sans qualification " ? Les données qui alimentent aujourd'hui le débat public prêtent d'abord aujourd'hui à confusion. Sans être nécessairement farfelus, les chiffres ne désignent pas toujours les mêmes réalités.
Julien Damon a tenu à rappeler, lors de cette table ronde, qu'il existe un certain nombre d'idées reçues en France concernant la pauvreté et l'exclusion, qui seraient en forte augmentation depuis quelques années. Il s'est attaché au contraire à montrer que l'ampleur de ces deux problèmes ne cesse de décroître.
Un écart important s'est installé ces dernières années entre l'évolution du pouvoir d'achat mesuré par les chiffres officiels et la perception qu'en ont les ménages. Cet écart perdure, et ce davantage en France que dans les autres pays de la zone euro. Lorsque l'INSEE (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques) annonce en octobre 2006 une progression de 2,3 % du pouvoir d'achat du revenu des ménages pour l'année, un peu ...
(180 more words)