Means-tested or flat pension? Pension credit
A basic issue with the pension system is how to complement the forced saving of the proportional (contributive) system so as to reduce poverty in old age. Means-tested and flat benefits have their own advantages and pitfalls, but they can be optimized with the common generalization of them, pension credit. This benefit is equal to the maximum of the following two quantities: (i) the flat benefit + the tapered proportional benefit, and (ii) the proportional benefit. The elementary model of pension credit is simple because it neglects the impact of the pension-system structure on labour supply and on traditional savings. In the optimization model, workers differ not only in their saving propensities but in their wage rates as well. Feldstein's finding on the welfare superiority of means-testing over flat benefits is corroborated here by introducing flexible labour supply and progressive income tax and extending the analysis to pension credit.
The effects on the demand for status goods exerted by single-occasion social externals
Due to externals of a social nature, the consumption decisions of individuals are affected not only by their own system of preferences or the attributes of the product, but by the influence of other consumers. The study examines how concurrent application of the two main forms of consumption externals, imitation and snobbery, affect market demand. Research into this subject has importance and immediacy first because the status-goods consumption generated by social externals accounts for a considerable proportion of consumption, and secondly because if firms fail to take interpersonal influences into account, they will, depending on the relative strength of the two effects, produce more or less than the quantity that would maximize their profit. The author concludes that if the strength of snobbery exceeds that of imitation, the market demand curve that embraces both social-type external effects is less flexible than the market demand curve that is free of the interpersonal effects, but the flexibility of the market demand curve increases with the strength of the imitation effect. Thus the life cycle of status goods can be described by a monotonously decreasing hyperbolic curve, and the strengths over time of the snobbery and imitation effects relative to each other by a dynamic demand curve expressing the changes over time.
The transition in the state's role in cultural financing caused by the democratization of culture
The democratization of culture has induced changes in the role of the state in subsidizing culture. The role of the state is still determinant in the economic performance of the cultural sector in the EU member-states, but there are differences in the methods used and in which sub-sector of the cultural sector needs to be reformed. The article compares the coordinated and the liberal approaches to cultural financing, to show how these two contradictory philosophies try to match their best practice to an institutional system that has been changed by the democratization that culture has undergone since the 1960s. This new situation raises questions about which approach is more successful in adapting to the modified institutional system, and what kind of reforms have been made in the two approaches to back the sustainability of the cultural sector. To show the tendencies, the author compares the cultural sectors and financing systems of the United Kingdom and of France. It is assumed that the role of the state is still determinant, but the growth of the cultural sector has been affected by the form and quality of that state intervention, not by the volume of direct government expenditure on the sector.
Tendencies in part-time employment
The spread of part-time employment in many EU countries has been helping to maintain and increase the level of employment and bring about more efficient, intensive work and working-time organization. The proportion of part-time employment in Hungary is one of the lowest in the Union, which points to some unutilized reserves of labor and shows that this flexible employment form could be used to raise the country's level of employment.