Monday, 25 September 2017

Mental health and productivity at work: Does what you do matter?

an article by Melisa Bubonya (The University of Melbourne, Australia), Deborah A.Cobb-Clark (The University of Sydney, Australia, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, Australia) and Mark Wooden (The University of Melbourne, Australia and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)) published in Labour Economics Volume 46 (June 2017)

  • Poor mental health is associated with both higher absence and presenteeism rates.
  • Job conditions influence presenteeism, but only among persons in good mental health.
  • The contribution of job control to absence is greater for those in poor mental health.
  • Initiatives that reduce job stress offer the most potential to lift productivity.
Much of the economic cost of mental illness stems from workers’ reduced productivity. Using nationally representative panel data we analyze the links between mental health and two alternative workplace productivity measures – absenteeism and presenteeism (i.e., lower productivity while attending work) – explicitly allowing these relationships to be moderated by the nature of the job itself.

We find that absence rates are approximately five percent higher among workers who report being in poor mental health. Moreover, job conditions are related to both presenteeism and absenteeism even after accounting for workers’ self-reported mental health status.

Job conditions are relatively more important in understanding diminished productivity at work if workers are in good rather than poor mental health. The effects of job complexity and stress on absenteeism do not depend on workers’ mental health, while job security and control moderate the effect of mental illness on absence days.

JEL Classification: I12, J22, J24

Full text (PDF)

The UK unemployment rate is at least three times the official rate

an article from the Boing Boing blog by Cory Doctorow

The UK &ndash like most countries &ndash excludes “inactive workers” (students, new parents, people who don’t want a job) from its unemployment figures, but “inactive” is such a slippery concept that it can paper over huge cracks in the labor market.

The official UK unemployment rate is 4.5%, the lowest its been since the 1970s. The true rate is more like 14% or higher. The dark matter of UK unemployment is about what you’d expect: people in the “gig economy” who hate it, people on zero-hours contracts or in part-time work who want full-time work.

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Swearing at work: the mixed outcomes of profanity

an article by Yehuda Baruch (University of Southampton, UK), Rea Prouska (London South Bank University School of Business, UK), Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada) and Jennifer Bunk, (West Chester University, Pennsylvania, USA) published in Journal of Managerial Psychology Volume 32 Issue 2 (2017)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the use and misuse of swearing in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach
Using a qualitative methodology, the authors interviewed 52 lawyers, medical doctors and business executives in the UK, France and the USA.

In contrast to much of the incivility and social norms literatures, the authors find that male and female business executives, lawyers and doctors of all ages admit to swearing. Further, swearing can lead to positive outcomes at the individual, interpersonal and group levels, including stress-relief, communication-enrichment and socialization-enhancement.

Research limitations/implications
An implication for future scholarship is that “thinking out of the box” when exploring emotion-related issues can lead to new insights.

Practical implications
Practical implications include reconsidering and tolerating incivility under certain conditions.

The authors identified a case in which a negative phenomenon reveals counter-intuitive yet insightful results.

Are ICT displacing workers in the short run? Evidence from seven European countries

an article by Smaranda Pantea (European Commission, Brussel, Belgium and Ministry of Public Finance, Romania), Anna Sabadash (Eurostat, European Commission, Luxembourg) and Federico Biagi (European Commission, Seville, Spain and University of Padua, Italy) published in Information Economics and Policy Volume 39 (June 2017)

  • We study the short run substitution effect of ICT use on firms' employment.
  • We use highly accurate quantitative measures of ICT use within firms.
  • We use a longitudinal dataset containing internationally comparable firm level data for seven European countries, covering manufacturing and services sectors.
  • We find no evidence that ICT substitutes labour in the short run.
  • The insignificant effect of ICT is very robust across ICT measures, countries and sectors.

This paper examines the short run labour substitution effects of using ICT at firm-level in the manufacturing and services sectors in seven European countries, during the period 2007–2010. The data come from a unique dataset provided by the ESSLait Project on Linking Microdata, which contains internationally comparable data based on the production statistics linked at firm level with the novel ICT usage indicators.

We adopt a standard conditional labour demand model and control for unobservable time-invariant firm-specific effects.

The results show that ICT use has a statistically insignificant labour substitution effect and this effect is robust across countries, sectors and measures of ICT use. Our findings suggest that increased use of ICT within firms does not reduce the numbers of workers they employ.

JEL classification: J23, J24, O33, L86

How I Stopped Trying to Please Everyone and Started Prioritizing Myself

a post by Berni Sewell for Tiny Buddha

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you don’t say ‘no’ to yourself.” ~Paolo Coehlo

My whole body was shaking. Tears streaming down my face, my nose blocked and throat sore from crying. Yet, no sound escaped my mouth except an occasional gentle sigh or hushed sob I was unable to control.

My husband was lying in bed next to me. I held my breath and lay motionless whenever he stirred in his sleep.

He had an early start ahead and needed rest. I didn’t want to disturb him, bother him with my silly crying fits. I didn’t want him to know that I was unhappy.

He wouldn’t understand, I didn’t even understand myself. I had a good life. A loving family, caring friends, a promising career I enjoyed.

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

10 items starting with dangerous science and ending with John Milton

10 Most Dangerous Scientific Experiments in History
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
Article Image
A masked ecologist militant is pictured with a barrel falsely contaminated during a demonstration against nuclear energy near the Tricastin nuclear power plant run by Areva in Bollene, southern France, on November 25, 2011, during a visit of France's President
Science is a force for good in our world, improving lives of people all across Earth in immeasurable ways. But it is also a very powerful tool that can become dangerous in some situations. Especially when it gets entangled in politics. At other times, science’s inherent ambition to push boundaries of what is known can also lead to some heart-stopping moments.
The following list is in no way exhaustive but gives us a place to start when thinking about the serious responsibility that comes with the march of science.
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Till death do us part? Divorce in medieval England
via The National Archives Blog by Claire Kennan
In the middle ages, Church courts dealt with all religious matters including marriage, divorce and the punishment of adultery. Even after the Reformation, Church jurisdiction over marriage disputes continued until 1857. Within the E135 series, which I have been cataloguing as part of my PhD placement, is a discrete selection of documents dealing with these issues.
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A southern three-banded armadillo unballing itself
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Found in South America, the southern three-banded armadillo “are the only species of armadillos capable of rolling into a complete ball to defend themselvelves”.
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Ten facts about children’s literature
via OUP Blog by the Oxford Reference marketing team

Photograph by Mi PHAM. Public Domain CC0 1.0 viaUnsplash.
Most of us have a favourite story, or selection of stories, from our childhood. Perhaps they were read to us as we drifted off to sleep, or they were read aloud to the family in front of an open fire, or maybe we read them ourselves by the light of a torch when we were supposed to be sleeping. No matter where you read them, or who read them to you, the characters (and their stories) often stick with you forever.
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Ordnance Survey's digital map of Britain offers stunning views
via BBC Technology News
A new digital tool produces 3D aerial views of countryside walks, cycle routes and mountain climbs.
It has been developed by Ordnance Survey, which hopes the interactive maps will make the outdoors safer and more fun.
Link here to see the video [it will not embed from http to https]

The Best A. E. Housman Poems Everyone Should Read
via Interesting Literature
A. E. Housman (1859-1936) didn’t write a great deal of poetry, but the poems he left behind are loved by millions around the world. But what are Housman’s best poems? Drawing up a ‘top ten’ has proved difficult. We’ve included some of his most famous poems, but have also included some of the poems which, we feel, show Housman doing what he did best: tugging at the heartstrings through skilfully crafted verse.
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A requiem for the overnight sleeper – and a European way of life
via the Guardian by Andrew Martin
The cross-border overnight train services are dying out. We are losing a way to forge links with the neighbours just when we need them the most
The Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William.
‘The journey on a British sleeper was often over well before the end of the night.’ The Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William in 2000. Photograph: National Railway Museum/SSPL via Getty Images
If you read European railway timetables from the decades before Britain joined the EU, you notice how much more foreign “the continent” seemed to be. In the 1960s, the Thomas Cook Continental Timetable was prefaced by “Visa requirements”, closely followed by “Fees for obtaining visas”, and relevant extracts from the passport regulations. Only then is the prospective traveller directed to the trains, the lists of which are footnoted with details of exotic operational practices: “At Hendaye, the Paris-Lisbon couchettes are jacked up to change the bogies, on account of the difference in track gauge between France and Spain.”
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How East Germany’s Stasi tried to drive activists insane, and how they resisted
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Eavesdropping station, Racing Snake
East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi, were the most aggressive surveillance force of their day – at the Stasi’s peak, one in 60 East Germans was snitching for the agency.
The tactics that the Stasi deployed to recruit informants – blackmail, cash, patriotism, immunity from prosecution, and gamification – are less interesting than the things the Stasi did to their adversaries, inflicting mental torture of various types to drive the opposition to attack itself, or simply give up.
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A Long-Sought Mathematical Proof, Found and Almost Lost
via 3 Quarks Daily: Natalie Wolchover in Quanta
Thomas Royen at his home in Schwalbach am Taunus, Germany.
As he was brushing his teeth on the morning of July 17, 2014, Thomas Royen, a little-known retired German statistician, suddenly lit upon the proof of a famous conjecture at the intersection of geometry, probability theory and statistics that had eluded top experts for decades.
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The 'Monuments Men' in Normandy after D-Day
via The National Archives Blog by Anne-Lise Depoil
You may have heard of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) officers, better known as the ‘Monuments Men’ – if you haven’t seen Clooney’s movie, maybe you have read this blog post on art looted by the Nazis in Bruges. Both focused on the essential part these special officers of the Allied armies played in the recovery of looted works of art during and after the Second World War.
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Why Milton still matters
via 3 Quarks Daily: Boyd Tonkin in The Spectator

John Milton, c.1642 (Photo: Getty)
Just 350 years ago, in April 1667, John Milton sold all rights to Paradise Lost to the printer Samuel Simmons – for £5, with another £5 due once Simmons had the first run of 1,300 copies off his hands. That sounds like a bargain for the 12-book epic poem of Satan’s war with Heaven, Eve’s ‘fatal trespass’ and the expulsion from Eden that soon became a monumental pillar of the literary canon.
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Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

a report by Sally Weale, education correspondent, in the Guardian of 20 July 2017

IPPR thinktank says permanently excluded children in England face significant disadvantage because of ‘broken system’

Hands raised in a classroom
Only one in a hundred permanently excluded pupils will go on to get five good GCSEs, the study found. Photograph: FangXiaNuo/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Read the Guardian’s report here

The IPPR’s press release heralding the interim report adds ‘burningly unjust system’ to the title above.

I spent quite a while looking for the interim report of July and/or the final report due in September and found neither. The information I did find horrified me quite enough!