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Charts of the Week: The Equal Pay Issue and a Crypto Recovery

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The Gender Pay Gap: Is Equal Pay the Biggest Issue Facing Women?

In the UK and many other developed countries, it is illegal to pay men and women different wages for the same work. Yet the gender pay gap – how much more men earn on average than women – refuses to go away. There are countless explanations for why men are paid more on average but for many people, the buck stops at gender: women are paid less because they are women.

An Ipsos survey of what 27 countries felt is the most pressing issue for women suggests that the majority of Europeans feel that there are bigger issues, such as sexual violence, facing women. In Sweden, known for its liberal views, just 36% of respondents felt that equal pay was the most important; in the UK, 30%.

One source of the especially polarising opinions that revolve around the gender pay gap is that it has become so heavily politicised. Nevertheless, a growing body of work shows that women are more likely to take roles that are lower-paid, such as nursing due to their higher emotional intelligence and, due to family structures,  many cut short their careers due to childbirth.

That is not to say that women do not face discrimination in the workplace, of course. One glance at the #MeToo campaign or the countless claims of sexual harassment at work quickly dispels that idea. However, blaming the pay disparity between men and women on just one parameter – gender – when there is a myriad of other factors at play, which may or may not be linked to gender, is an overly reductionist view of what is clearly a very complex issue.

A Slight Crypto Recovery

Despite taking a battering for the entirety of 2018, cryptocurrencies have had a relatively pleasant seven days or so. IOTA, for one, is up about 60% in just a handful of days, while bitcoin is now above the $8,000 threshold. Of course, in crypto-land, things can go the other way pretty quickly so it might yet be too early to say that a recovery is on its way. Nevertheless, a number of institutional investors, including George Soros’ family office, have announced that they will be taking cryptocurrency positions. Furthermore, Golem, an Ethereum-based decentralised application launched a successful beta last week in a further indication that the blockchain industry may well have plenty to offer.

Does Britain Support Air Strikes in Syria?

Last week’s precision strike on Syrian military targets has been poorly-received by the British public. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has fanned the flames of this controversy by calling the strike “legally questionable” ahead of yesterday’s debate in Parliament. Much of the criticism directed towards the government is to do with the perception that the UK is merely following President Donald Trump’s lead in order to foster goodwill ahead of the country’s departure from the EU. Oddly, less has been made of the fact that the strikes were specifically against a military facility that had, according to available intelligence, manufactured the chemical weapons used on civilians in Douma. Furthermore, many are frustrated that the government did not hold a parliamentary vote before launching the strikes, as had occurred previously. However, deciding to go to war does not fall to Parliament; instead, it is a power that exists under the Royal Prerogative and thus falls to the government of the day. Regardless, this is not an issue that is likely to go away anytime soon.

Population Analysis: China vs India

It goes without saying that India and China are immense countries with vast populations. Yet while they are broadly as populous as one another, there is a gulf between their respective living standards: Chinese GDP per capita is well around $8,500, while India’s is lagging at around $2,000. Although India’s economy is picking up, particularly under the incumbent Narendra Modi, China’s economic boom has outstripped the former’s many times over. The reasons for this are complex and various; however, back in 1950 India and China were in roughly the same position, with respectively 4.2% and 4.5% of global GDP. Although China’s history has indeed been bloodier – with up to 100 million people killed by Chairman Mao – India’s politics has been dominated by sterile politics that for many decades moved nowhere. Meanwhile, since the opening up of China under Deng Xiaoping, more than 700 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty.

The Most Viewed YouTube Videos

With 5.05 billion views, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despacito’ is the most watched video on YouTube, which is perhaps surprising given that its lyrics are not in English, the world’s effective lingua franca. Behind the reggaeton track is ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa from the soundtrack of Furious 7 with 3.51 billion views. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, the best-selling song of 2017, is in third place with 3.44 billion hits. Interestingly, nearly all the top-performing YouTube videos are music videos rather than other content despite the proliferation of other music-streaming services.

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