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zoom Ricardo Aláez Aller, co-author of the award-winning research, on the UPNA campus

Ricardo Aláez Aller, co-author of the award-winning research, on the UPNA campus

The article, “Más allá del indicador de esfuerzo en la medición del estado del bienestar” (Beyond the indicator of effort in the measurement of the welfare state), by Ricardo Aláez Aller (Public University of Navarre-UPNA) and Jon Olaskoaga-Larrauri and Pablo Díaz de Basurto (University of the Basque Country-UPV-EHU), obtained the 2013 Best Article Award from the International Forum for Comparative Policy Analysis. The award ceremony took place at the congress recently held in Münster (Germany) and involved a diploma and a prize of 1,000 dollars.

The indicator of effort (the social cost as a percentage of GDP) has been the most commonly used measurement to date in publications in order to describe and compare trends in welfare states in different countries.

The awarded article — published in the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis —, focused on pointing out the drawbacks of using this indicator, given that its variations may not correspond to the social needs cover of a country. In this sense, similar levels of social cost in GDP may be due to a number of different situations with respect to social needs.

According to Mr. Aláez, tenured lecturer of Applied Economics in the UPNA, the awarded research took into consideration what happened in the 21 countries of the OECD in the 1980-2004 period and reveals the problems with the indicator of effort when used in international comparisons.

“For example”, he explained, “this indicator shows, that while Spain during this period indicated a greater development of the welfare state, a closer look at the components of the indicator of effort reveals that this increase in social cost in GDP in Spain was fundamentally due to those situations of cover (unemployment and old age) increasing at greater rates than the 21 countries overall, while both the GDP per inhabitant as well as the social cost per dependent person in Spain stayed at the same level with respect to the 21 countries”.

The article terminated with a review of other complementary indicators and recommends the use of a wider series of indicators if what is desired is to provide a more rigorous vision of international trends and comparison amongst welfare states.

Ricardo Aláez is tenured lecturer of Applied Economics in the UPNA. His teaching activity is focused on the discipline of Economic Policy and Regional Economics. He has given classes at the UPV-EHU and in the Université Montesquieu-Bordeaux. His research activity has focused on the automobile sector, salary differences and public intervention in the economy (fundamentally social cost and short-term economic conditions).