EU25 countries vs. EU15 average
World Inequalities in Human Development Index (1980-2012) PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 February 2014

Time Distance Approach

Gaptimer Report No. 1 ‘World Inequalities in Human Development Index’ presents a new way of understanding and discussing development and world inequalities in a new dynamic framework. This manuscript can expand knowledge in two ways. 

Firstly, it offers an innovative approach for looking at disparities over many units and over time. The new time distance measure, expressed in time units, is easy to understand by everybody and offers a novel way to compare situations in economics, politics, business and statistics. The time distance concept can influence the perception and decisions of people when they are assessing their relative position in their surroundings, in the society and across countries over time.

As Sicherl (1973, 1993) proposes … observed time distance is a dynamic measure of temporal disparity between the two series intuitively clear, readily measurable, and in transparent units. It is suggested that one should complement conventional measures with horizontal measures.’ (Granger and Jeon, 1997)
C.W.J. Granger and Y. Jeon, University of California at San Diego 

Secondly, the empirical results for the Human Development Index over the three decades (1980-2012) provide new insights for the post-2015 agenda. S-time-distance measure (calculations based on official UNDP data) estimates HDI inequalities for each of 187 countries within their peer group. Telling new stories includes inequalities within EU27, BRICS countries, and Gulf Coordination Council countries.

These additional insights provide a transparent matter-of-fact message to politicians and the international community about the degree of urgency to tackle wide inequalities between and within countries in formulating and deciding on the post-2015 agenda. 


Just published: New book on time distance by Professor Pavle Sicherl PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2012

Book: Time Distance in Economics and Statistics - New Insights from Existing Data

The book on time distance methodology by Professor Pavle Sicherl was published in Vienna. The time perspective, which no doubt exists in human perception when comparing different situations, is systematically introduced in comparative analysis both as a concept and as a quantifiable measure. Time distance is an innovative approach for looking at time-series data, it offers two improvements in the present state-of-the-art of comparative analysis.

The first one is analytical and statistical – two novel generic statistical measures S-time-distance and S-time-step are generalised to complement conventional measures in time series comparisons, regressions, models, forecasting and monitoring, and to provide from existing data new insights due to an added dimension of analysis. Expressed in time units they are intuitively understandable; they can be compared across variables, fields of concern, and units of comparison.

The second component is normative and theoretical, related to subjective perceptions, policy and welfare issues. Time distance concept can influence the perception and decisions of people when they are assessing their relative position in the society and across countries over time. Concept of the ‘overall degree of disparity’ combines static and time distance measures of disparity with the potential to bring new understanding in economics, management, research and statistics. Empirical applications analyse time distance differences between countries in the world, OECD and EU, regional disparities, transition depression, ICT and digital divide, and monitoring implementation of UN MDGs and Lisbon strategy in the EU.

50 years of OECD countries at a glance PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 07 February 2011

A visual overview of 50 years in OECD countries with time distance methodology

At the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the OECD SICENTER presents a visual overview across several decades of the development for all present OECD countries for selected indicators based on the time distance methodology.

Time distance concept arranges the same data from the OECD Factbook 2010 in an additional way so that data are arranged by selected levels of indicators showing in which year these levels of the indicators were achieved by given country. The level-time matrix compresses original data from the usual time series table in the Factbook 2010 in a new easily understandable way while still containing the most important information. The table-graph in yellow colour shows the range of values achieved for a given country over the period from available data. This allows for a quick level comparison of the situation across the whole set of OECD countries and individual countries as well as of how many steps over levels of indicators was achieved a given country.

The selected indicators are: life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, road fatalities, projections of population growth rates and of elderly population until 2050, employment rates, tertiary attainment, gross domestic expenditures on R&D, telecommunication access paths, gross domestic product per capita, international trade in goods and services, current account balance, and general government expenditures as percent of GDP. This additional way of presentation over many countries and many years provides a much better summary and understanding.

The level-time table-graph for share of elderly population covers the period of 100 years (1951-2050). It is difficult to imagine that the usual table of 34 countries across 100 years with 3400 entries would allow such a compressed essence of the long-term information and visualisation for a relevant perception of the situation. 

For the majority of the selected indicators it is obvious at a glance that the differences between OECD countries are large. For instance, for gross domestic expenditures on R&D, GDP per capita and tertiary attainment the indicator values for the best countries are 4 to 5 times higher than for the lowest countries. While best practices are of interest it is obvious that policies have to be differentiated and adjusted to such wide differences in the circumstances. There is a wealth of information and possible comparisons in the tables; the comments provided are just some examples of such interpretations. ‘Seeing with new eyes’, to borrow the phrase from Marcel Proust, creates new knowledge, better understanding and material for telling new development stories.    
Annex 1 shows using the example for life expectancy how the level-time matrix can lead further to derivation of two novel statistical measures: S-time-distance and S-time-step.  All three look easily understandable and are bringing even to general public additional understanding of the situation to build their perception about the disparities involved. S-time-step shows how many years were needed in the past to increase one year in life expectancy, thsi indication of dynamics depends only on the developments in the given country. The values of S-time-distance in the table compare the value for a country to the benchmark OECD average, showing the lead (-) or lag (+) in time against the OECD average.

S-time-distance shows that EU has lost 4 years of growth of GDP and employment PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 June 2010

GDP and total employment in EU27 are at the 2006 levels

Growth rates of the respective magnitudes or indicators seems to be the prevailing
measure used by statistical offices, national and international organisations and media for
describing economic development over time. They need to be complemented by other easily
understandable statistical measures to facilitate the stakeholders to better understand the
situation in a broader framework.

Tables 2 and 3 offer two more statistical measures beyond growth rates that can additionally
describe the severity of the crisis related to levels of GDP and total employment for EU27
countries, United States and Japan: static index of fall from the peak level and S-time-
distance, which in this special declining phase indicates for how many years have the current
levels fallen back to levels already achieved earlier. Time distance analysis lead to a
summary statement that EU27 has in the current crisis lost 4 years of growth of GDP
and of total employment.

For 2010 it is expected that all EU countries except Poland will still be below their 2008
levels: from 1% to 22% according to one measure and falling back from 2.4 to 8 years
according to the time distance measure. USA are expected to return to its 2008 GDP level
while for Japan time distance would be 5 years. The time distance lag would be between 2
and 3 years for 5 EU countries, between 3 and 4 years 9 countries, between 4 and 5 years 7
countries and for 4 countries between 5 and 6 years. Mostly positive growth rates of GDP in
2010 were much too low to compensate for the fall in 2009.

Table 3 for total employment shows even a more difficult situation than for GDP even though
the fall of total employment in 2009 was -1.6 percent, i.e. less than for GDP of -4.2 percent.
In percentage terms total employment fell more in the USA, in EU and in Japan the fall
was similar. However, S-time-distance shows again a different picture. The time lag for the
USA is expected to be in 2010 about 6 years, for Japan about 21 years (USA level of total
employment is expected to be at their 2004 level and for Japan at their 1988 level), for the
EU27 about 4 years. The forecast for 2011 shows that for 7 EU countries total employment
would be shifted back to levels attained more than 10 years ago (before 2001). They are
Portugal and six earlier socialist economies (Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the
three Baltic members Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). Even in static terms total employment
fell for 5 countries (which include Ireland) between 9% and 19%.

S-time-distance measure adds a perspective that is easily understandable by everyone.
This additional time distance perspective can be a very useful tool for better
understanding of the situation needed for policy discussions among social partners
in difficult circumstances. Looking only at growth rates of GDP and employment
does not give a clear indication of the severity of the crisis to policy makers and to the
general public. 

The summary statement that EU27 has in the current crisis lost 4 years
of growth of GDP and of total employment needs to be complemented with diverse
situations in the countries. Also, the employment situation is shown to be even more
difficult than that with GDP. In the next paper we shall show that investment rate has
declined even more to affect the medium term possibilities of growth.

Foresight and time distance methodology PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 04 April 2009

A New Perspective Related to Time

The time distance approach can contribute a broader way of thinking and changed semantics into the present state-of-the-art of comparative analysis. At the 10th Bled Forum on Europe there was a parallel workshop ‘Foresight Training Workshop for Participants from South East Europe’. Presentation by Pavle Sicherl discussed the potential benefits of time distance method that include also benchmarking evaluation of the starting situation, a presentation and communication tool to describe, compare and visualise findings of scenarios in a new dimension and continuous monitoring for targeted actions. The presentation Sicherl Foresight Training seminar Bled.ppt is available online.

More details about elements to be used in foresight are available in an older background paper for the US-EU Seminar: New Technology Foresight, Forecasting & Assessment Methods, Seville, 13-14 May, 2004. Pavle Sicherl presented the poster on the time distance method in foresight analysis with background paper.
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