Publications

The following publications are short English summaries of the original documents.
For the unabridged versions in German please click here.

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  • SPECIAL

    The Oxfam method

    Whoever shouts loudest wins the day
     
    As in previous years, the NGO Oxfam recently grabbed the head-lines with its calculation of the number of the super-rich whose combined wealth is equal to that of half of the world’s population. This is annoying because Oxfam’s proposed solution to the problem is misguided: raise wealth taxes, wage war on tax havens and everything will be fine.
     
    This publication shows that increased trade, education and the removal of obstacles to accumulating wealth help to combat wealth inequality.

    Author: Hanno Lorenz, Wolfgang Feller

    Topic: Poverty & Inequality

    Date: January 16, 2017

  • SPECIAL

    Less than the sum of its parts

    Why Austria is missing out on important reforms
     
    Arno Gasteiger, a long-serving former provincial councillor for economic affairs in Salzburg, who in his time as an elected representative was well placed to take a critical and objective look at his particular profession, has given a lot of thought to the causes of stagnation and possible ways of reversing it.
     
    His conclusions can be found in our publication “Less than the sum of its parts”, an essay that explains why this country is the way that it is. And what needs to be done to change it.

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Federalism, Pension System

    Date: November 28, 2016

  • STUDY

    Is every citizen worth the same?

    Fiscal equalisation: why the scaled population multiplier opens the door to debt
     
    Not every inhabitant of Austria is worth the same. Large local authorities receive more funding per resident from the central government than small ones. This can result in local governments taking on more debt per capita. Flat-rate funding of services for people living elsewhere should therefore be abolished.

    Author: Monika Köppl-Turyna

    Topic: Federalism

    Date: October 6, 2016

  • HANDBOOK

    Elvis lives: The handbook of intellectual self-defence

    Stress-testing popular economic policy myths
     
    The myth that the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, who died in 1977, is still alive today is one that music fans doggedly refuse to give up. This bold theory is symbolic of the economic policy myths that we put under the microscope in our publication “Elvis lives”, to see how close to the truth they really are.
     
    The TTIP only benefits big business, a price cap is the only way to keep the lid on rising rents, and people who retire later are taking jobs away from young people, right? Agenda Austria’s economists and several high-profile guest contributors explain why these claims are wrong.

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Education, Europe, Free Trade, Housing Market, Labour Market, Poverty & Inequality

    Date: September 14, 2016

  • SPECIAL

    A guide to removing the shackles from Austrian traders

    Austria’s Business and Trade Code is not just in need of reform – it needs to be completely rewritten. A new paper from Agenda Austria explains why the country needs only a dozen or so regulated trades, and why Germany is a role model.
     
    The authors suggest that regulation should be restricted to those trades that potentially represent a risk to people, animals or the environment. There are 15 in total, including master builder, medical product manufacturer and blasting contractor. All other trades would be unregulated.

    Author: Hanno Lorenz, Monika Köppl-Turyna

    Topic: Bureaucracy, Business Location

    Date: August 17, 2016

  • SPECIAL

    Heading down to the anti-TTIP demo with your iPhone in your pocket

    Very few countries have benefited so much from free trade as Austria. Nevertheless there is strong opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. A new Agenda Austria publication looks into the main criticisms, highlights some advantages and calls for an objective debate.
     
    This goes hand in hand with a plea to the Austrian government: play a more committed role in the negotiations and inform the public about the TTIP in order to lay the foundations for a reasoned discussion.

    Author: Hanno Lorenz

    Topic: Europe, Free Trade

    Date: July 14, 2016

  • SPECIAL

    Six opportunities for Austria

    With a new chancellor in office, the government now has a chance to finally put a few things straight. Agenda Austria has picked out six opportunities that any modernisation programme must take advantage of.
     
    True to its role as a think tank, Agenda Austria has outlined six proposals that any modernisation programme must include. We present details of these proposals and the measures behind them to the Austrian public and the government – free of charge, but hopefully not for nothing. What needs to be done to safeguard and enhance prosperity in Austria?

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Business Location, Education, Labour Market, Pension System, Welfare State

    Date: July 4, 2016

  • PAPER

    Cold progression – a hot topic

    How the finance minister can raise our incomes without cutting taxes
     
    The tax reform has come into effect, resulting in lower tax burdens for almost everyone. an honest look at household accounts reveals that somehow many people do not have more money for living expenses, saving and consumption. How come?
     
    In this paper, Dénes Kucsera and Hanno Lorenz look at the impact of cold progression over the next five years, from 2016 to 2021, and pinpoint who will be affected. They also describe ways in which other countries deal with the problem of cold progression.

    Author: Dénes Kucsera, Hanno Lorenz

    Topic: Taxation

    Date: June 16, 2016

  • PAPER

    Minimum wages: is there still scope for an increase?

    A look at the industries in which the minimum wage could be raised – and those where it would lead to job losses.
     
    Employee representatives are calling for a rise in gross incomes. Our economists looked at the potential employment-related effects of a blanket minimum gross wage of EUR 1,700 per month in 14 key industries in the country. The results: Just under 16,000 19- to 25-year-olds would lose their jobs, with those in retail and goods manufacturing particularly hard hit.
     
    This short paper does not make the case for a cut in minimum wages, which are low enough anyway. Instead, it points solely to the employmentrelated outcomes from raising minimum wages, which can be proven empirically.

    Author: Dénes Kucsera, Michael Christl, Monika Köppl-Turyna

    Topic: Business Location, Labour Market

    Date: June 9, 2016

  • STUDY

    Austria, the land of “educational climbers” – educational mobility between the generations

    “In Austria, education is inherited.” This assertion comes up in countless articles and TV discussions, and in virtually every academic paper on the Austrian education system. But does this damning indictment stand up to critical examination?
     
    This paper looks at the statistics of the most prominent studies in a variety of different ways, but some of the findings are fundamentally different. They show very pronounced upward mobility across almost all educational levels as well as a relatively balanced mix of social groups among people entering university.

    Author: Wolfgang Feller

    Topic: Education

    Date: March 30, 2016

  • PAPER

    Confidence – the best stimulus package

    New strategies for increased growth and employment
     
    For many years, there was a steady stream of good news coming out of the Austrian economy: unemployment was the lowest in the EU for some time, and economic output was the fourth highest. But there has been a spanner in the works for the past few years and the economy has almost ground to a halt. Unemployment has been rising for a while, productivity gains have been very modest since the onset of the economic crisis, and the number of hours worked is declining.

    In this paper we aim to identify new and promising ways to kick-start growth, taking our inspiration from the countries that are leading the way in terms of economic performance. Among other things, Austria needs extensive reforms, a start-up friendly environment, liberal opening hours and incentives for private investments.

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Business Location, Labour Market

    Date: January 7, 2016

  • STUDY

    Power needs a sense of responsibility

    Why the federal provinces should finance expenses from their own tax income
     
    Competition translates into better products and services. And tax competition between Austria’s federal provinces could lead to tax rates that are better suited to local conditions.
     
    How well placed would the different Austrian federal provinces be to compete for businesses or citizens by means of different tax rates? Which provinces are currently subsidised – through a fairly non-transparent system – by means of fiscal equalisation? For instance, how could remote rural areas become more competitive by offering attractive rates of taxation? How could fiscal autonomy be implemented in Austria? This study answers these and similar questions.

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Federalism

    Date: October 8, 2015

  • HANDBOOK

    Poverty, inequality and wealth distribution

    This handbook serves as a guide through the complex jungle of terms such as relative poverty, income inequality and wealth distribution. And it offers suprisingly good news – in contrast to public opinion in Austria.
     
    What is the reason for the uneven distribution of wealth in Austria despite its elaborate welfare system? Why is there so much poverty in Austria, in spite of the state’s high level of social spending? Why is wealth not more evenly distributed in countries with wealth and inheritance taxes compared to countries without those taxes? The handbook answers all of these questions and more.

    Author: Hanno Lorenz, Michael Christl

    Topic: Poverty & Inequality

    Date: August 1, 2015

  • STUDY

    From young to old and unemployed?

    It is difficult for older people to find work again after a period out of the labour market or after losing their job. This is something that all interest groups and political parties can agree on. One of the reasons for this is the high labour costs for older workers.
     
    This study firstly evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the Austrian labour market with respect to older workers. It goes on to address regulation of the labour market, the labour cost and labour productivity, as well as financial incentives for early retirement. It further looks at the ways other countries have successfully managed to achieve higher labour force participation rates of 55- to 64 year-olds.

    Author: Dénes Kucsera, Hanno Lorenz, Michael Christl

    Topic: Labour Market

    Date: July 22, 2015

  • 15 useful tips for the tax reform

    There are many people who feel they pay too much tax. Others claim they have no problem paying taxes because they are funding a properly functioning state that provides a range of good-quality services. But how much income tax do different people actually pay? And how much in social security contributions? What exactly does the state do with tax revenue? Do higher wealth taxes lead to greater equality? And how high is taxation on capital compared to taxes on individuals?
     
    A seemingly endless list of questions that this brochure is designed to answer with the help of some informative charts. All of this should make it easier for you to get to grips with the government’s tax reform plans.

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Labour Market, Taxation

    Date: March 30, 2015

  • DISCUSSION PAPER

    Pension reform – How long will a majority be in favour?

    Does the Austrian state pension system need to be reformed? Is the current system financially sustainable and fair to different generations? Are the previous reforms enough? The intensity with which these questions are debated may vary periodically, but they are always on the agenda – as they have been for decades.
     
    Pension system reform is not very popular. The prospect of having to work longer, paying higher contributions or receiving lower pensions isn’t exactly greeted with cheers. For the first time in Austria, this paper looks into where voters’ interests lie with respect to pensions: who would the winners and losers be in a fundamentally reformed system? This system would link the age of retirement to increasing life expectancy as in Sweden (automatic adjustment).

    Author: Dénes Kucsera, Michael Christl

    Topic: Pension System

    Date: February 23, 2015

  • The rights and wrongs of Piketty’s theses

    Surprisingly for an economics book, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century received substantial media exposure, including – ironically – in Vanity Fair, a magazine devoted to reports on the rich and famous. And the magazine’s response to the French economist’s demand for taxes of up to 80 percent on high incomes and up to 2 percent on wealth was anything but harsh. In Piketty’s view, such measures are the only way to rectify the increasingly uneven and unfair distribution of wealth. This response alone showed that the author had struck a nerve in modern society, which was one reason for its success.
     
    More than three-quarters of the book is dedicated to data on the level and distribution of wealth in several countries over the past 200-odd years. Initially, Piketty’s evaluation is fairly cautious, but that changes with his own interpretation of the results in the relatively short final chapter. His analysis rests on assumptions which are at the very least worthy of discussion.

    Author: Hanno Lorenz

    Topic: Poverty & Inequality

    Date: October 9, 2014

  • DISCUSSION PAPER

    Elk test for Austria’s pension system

    The Austrian pension system is becoming a barely affordable burden on the entire economy. But the fundamental reason for this is actually something to be happy about: an increase in life expectancy of three months per year. In real terms though, sooner or later the government will have to spend twice as much money subsidising the system by means of federal grants than it does today (about EUR 10 billion a year) and in 30 years three times as much.
     
    There are basically four ways to make the pension system affordable in future: lower pension payments, increased government funding, higher contributions or higher retirement age. The study analyses three different models to find out which reforms would result in a robust system that would secure future pensions.

    Author: Dénes Kucsera, Michael Christl

    Topic: Pension System

    Date: June 8, 2014

  • PAPER

    Five opportunities for Austria

    For this brochure, Agenda Austria took a little look at the rest of the world and found five successful reform programmes that could work wonders in Austria. We did this in view of the work of the federal government that took office in December 2013, which is widely seen as somewhat less than ambitious. It’s high time to make Austria “weatherproof” with the following measures:
     
    -) Reform schools like the Dutch
    -) Safeguard pensions like the Swedes
    -) Embrace federalism like the Swiss
    -) Tackle debt like the Germans
    -) Cut subsidies like the New Zealanders

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Education, Federalism, Pension System

    Date: January 15, 2014

  • STUDY

    The high cost of housing

    The aim of this Agenda Austria study is to shed some light on Austria’s problematic housing market – a complex and much debated state of affairs – and highlight solutions to make it function effectively.

    Author: Michael Christl, Philipp Geymüller

    Topic: Housing Market

    Date: December 1, 2013

  • DISCUSSION PAPER

    Austria: the land of hidden unemployment

    Official labour market statistics paint a confusing picture. In 2012, the rate of unemployment in Austria was 7.0 percent as calculated using the national definition (number of people registered as jobless), but just 4.3 percent if the ILO definition was applied.
     
    The two definitions have one thing in common: They don’t include the group of people referred to by economists as the hidden unemployed. Under the assumption of a booming economy we identify how many of the people who were not counted in the official statistics would be working if economic conditions were optimal. The hidden unemployed include people on training programmes and those who have retired early, but who would otherwise be working.

    Author: Dénes Kucsera, Michael Christl

    Topic: Labour Market

    Date: September 26, 2013

  • HANDBOOK

    The handbook of intellectual self-defence

    Agenda Austria is the country’s first think tank that is fully independent of the state, political parties, professional associations and interest groups. We aim to generate ideas for citizens who are willing to embrace change, and to identify aspects of atrophied
    views that give us pointers for dynamic reforms.
     
    Primarily we want to offer the young people of this country a new perspective, an alternative to the outlook served up during childhood. This will enable them to move away from conversations shackled by outdated ways of thinking and towards an open-minded, forward-looking debate. With this in mind, we asked several economists to put the most popular stock phrases on economic policy under the microscope and see how much truth they contain.

    Author: Agenda Austria

    Topic: Labour Market, Poverty & Inequality, Welfare State

    Date: August 11, 2013