What we learned this week: 24 January 2020

24 January 2020

Inequality hits new highs as people on low incomes feel the pinch

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is drawing to a close in Davos today and as usual it has not failed to deliver in terms of things we learned this week. If you fancy popping along next year you might need to start saving now, you need to be a WEF member and fees start at £45,000. Unless you’re invited, in which case you can get in for free (criteria are outlined here). Many of the sessions are beamed live from the WEF website, where you can search the programme and themes. One of the interesting things emerging was a letter signed by at least 121 of the world’s millionaires and billionaires, in a campaign titled Millionaires Against Pitchforks calling for “higher and fairer taxes”.

Closer to home, there were lots of statistics out this week which highlighted the difficulties faced by people on low-to-middle incomes who are trying to make ends meet:

One-in-four Scottish homes affected by fuel poverty

The Scottish government published figures on Tuesday which showed that one-in-four Scottish homes are affected by fuel poverty.

People start to feel the cost of Christmas

On Wednesday, The Independent reported that one-in-seven say they will need to take out high-cost, short-term debt to cover the festive shortfall. The survey of 2,000 people by Censuswide found that one-in-three consumers spent beyond their means last Christmas. 22 January was named as the day when people expect this month’s pay cheque to run out, on average.

Problem gambling: Why do some people become addicted?

One of the topics we’re really interested in at the Foundation is what can be done about problem gambling, so we were interested to read this piece by Dr Ricardo Twumasi and Prof Sukhi Shergill on why some people are more prone to becoming addicted.

There was also alarming news that the number of women reporting having a problem with gambling is rising at double the rate of men.

Low homelessness rates: Lessons from Japan

The Economist reported that the reasonably affordable housing is a big reason why homelessness in Tokyo is so low - whereas in other big cities such as Los Angeles the homeless population has risen by 50% over the last decade, and by 60% in New York over the same period.  (£).

And finally, maths experts zero in on secret to the perfect coffee

For anyone struggling to stay awake at this time of year when we really should be hibernating, mathematicians have turned to equations to solve the mystery of the perfect coffee. It’s all in the grind apparently.

Thanks to the following for their tweets this week:@TaylorNRogers, @RicardoTwumasi, @PatrioticMills, @b_c_chapman, @paullewismoney, @byameliahill and @wef

Copyright Standard Life Foundation 2020.

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