Manuel Bagues, Chris Roth, 03 January 2021

Countries across Europe have struggled in recent decades to prevent secessionist movements, win wide support for social safety nets, and tackle problems demanding collective action. This column argues that to accomplish such goals requires a sense of shared, national identity. Exploiting a unique natural experiment – the random assignment of conscripts in Spain to serve outside their home region – it finds that intergroup contact in early adulthood can encourage interregional social cohesion. Governments looking to promote national identity should consider policies, such as mobility in higher education, that bring together people from different regions.

Andrew Oswald, Adam Nowakowski, 28 September 2020

Do our citizens care much about climate change? This column provides evidence that the answer is no. Using data on 70,000 randomly sampled people from the European Social Survey and the Eurobarometer, it shows that people exhibit low levels of worry about climate change, especially in cooler countries, and do not even believe that collective action would work. Climate change is viewed as less important than parochial issues such as inflation, health and social security, unemployment, and the economic situation. It appears our unborn great grandchildren may simply be left to their fate unless we can urgently find innovative ways to change people’s feelings about climate change.

Charles Wyplosz, 01 August 2016

The German Council of Economic Advisors recently proposed a mechanism for the orderly restructuring of sovereign debt in the Eurozone. This column argues that the proposal suffers from some inherent weaknesses. The proposal builds on logical errors and embeds well-established ideas in a setup that suffers from serious limitations. It also neglects alternative strategies that favour targeting large debts as soon as possible.

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