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Abstract

Given the changes in the Irish economy since the economic crisis and, more specifically, reforms in the local government sector, this paper reassesses the financial position and fiscal sustainability of local authorities in Ireland. To do this we employ a local government financial performance framework that measures liquidity and solvency, but also operating performance and collection rates, for different sources of revenue income. Using financial data sourced from local council income and expenditure accounts and balance sheets, we report and analyse the financial position and performance during the 2007–17 period. The results indicate an improvement in the financial performance of local councils since the early 2010s. Cross-council differences persist, in particular, between large urban local authorities and smaller rural local authorities, albeit only for the liquidity and operating performance measures. Among the small rural councils, Sligo County Council’s financial position, although improving, remains a serious matter with ongoing consultation with and monitoring by central government. To help improve the measurement of local authority financial performance we recommend inclusion of this framework in the local authority Annual Financial Statement and also in the Performance Indicator Report with a view to making financial reports more accessible and transparent to citizens and taxpayers and, ultimately, to help improve performance and service delivery by the local authorities.

Abstract

Collaboration is an important means of tackling local socio-economic challenges. This paper looks at how the collaborative capacity of Ireland’s community development leaders can be improved. The most recent efforts to establish a more coordinated and coherent approach to community development saw the introduction of a new local committee structure, known as local community development committees (LCDCs). LCDCs were expected to enhance collaboration between public, private and third sector socio-economic partners. However, effective intersectoral collaboration is often difficult to attain. A programme of capacity building can play a key part in supporting collaborative working between local leaders. Based on the findings from a place-based leadership development workshop, this paper discusses the barriers to collaboration facing community development leaders and how these might be overcome. Surfacing and working through tensions to enable clarity, through enhanced mutual understanding and strong relationships across community development committees, is vitally important. To this end, a practical and evidence-based approach to improving collaboration between local leaders is argued for.

Abstract

This paper sets out to better understand the roles of various actors and actions in the ‘making’ of Galway city. From the formation of the state, with a population of just over 14,000, the city has enjoyed population growth rates above EU and Irish averages over the past three decades. This paper maps a series of growth phases resulting from sometimes deliberate and other times non-deliberate policy decisions. The theoretical lens adopted is that of evolutionary economic geography. This is an attempt to counteract the tendency in broader social science research to underplay geographical aspects, such as places, space and scales. Economic geography – and evolutionary economic geography in particular – better identifies the complexity and nuance of place development. Theorists such as Boschma (2017) and Martin & Sunley (2015) consider development as a path-dependent process. Development is situated and place-based. This requires a more historically attuned perspective and a recognition that the role played by institutions, government and policy is vital. The paper concludes with a broad reflection on the role of spatial development policy and the potential future development of the city.

Abstract

The article addresses the need to identify and quantify the external costs of air pollution on the health of the population, especially children. The subjects of evaluation are the respiratory illnesses acute nasopharyngitis and acute bronchitis, both of which have very high incidence in connection with air pollution. The aim of this paper is to estimate the cost of morbidity and to determine the amount of additional social costs of airway morbidity among children aged 0–15 years in Ostrava city, one of the most polluted cities in Europe, compared to the incidence of these diseases in the whole Czech Republic. Estimation of social costs is based on the Cost-Of-Illness approach, in which the total value is made up of the costs actually incurred in treating illness and in loss of productivity. Using this approach, additional costs related to the treatment of illnesses were calculated at approximately €20 million per year, which represents approximately 0.4% of Ostrava's regional gross domestic product (GDP).

Abstract

The paper focuses on the main features of corporate volunteering in companies from the Sverdlovsk region (Russian Federation), with a population surpassing 4.5 million inhabitants. Corporate volunteering is analyzed in the context of the trend characteristic for the post-Soviet space. The article systematizes approaches to the definition and study of this phenomenon, implemented by researchers from different countries. The main goal of the article is to identify the specific features of corporate volunteering in a large Russian region, considered typical for industrial territories in post-Soviet areas, seen through the social value that local communities attribute to corporate volunteering. The paper is based on the results of a public opinion poll and structured interviews, carried out in the Sverdlovsk region, where there is a concentration of enterprises of “hard” industries. The responses obtained in the poll were further subjected to analysis using statistical methods. The data are supplemented with information collected through the qualitative interviews. Interviewed experts are the top managers of enterprises and the deputy directors for HR, GR, or social issues. The study shows that in Russian industrial cities, where large enterprises are the main employers for most residents, many questions on the implementation of social policy fall under the responsibility of these enterprises, and not of the local government. Researchers argue that corporate volunteering is not widespread in the large Russian regions. It most often develops within the framework of event planning and environmental projects, managed by enterprises in cooperation with social and cultural institutions of local communities and not with the non-profit sector. The traditions of the organization of mass social work formed during the socialist period are still deeply rooted in enterprises, and managers rarely identify volunteering as a new managerial tool, thus being untangled from the global trend of promoting corporate volunteerism as a means of building corporate culture.

Abstract

This paper deals with the principle of subsidiarity in asylum law. It exposes some of the most important ‘push’ factors that have been considered by the European Union (EU) as arguments for the centralisation of asylum law. Through the application of an economic approach, this text examines the need for harmonization of asylum standards to reach the goal established in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. An economic methodology is used to investigate the application of the subsidiarity principle by considering some of the most important economic criteria for both centralisation and decentralisation, and by applying the findings to the asylum law. Specifically, this paper considers the Tiebout model, the problem of the ‘race to the bottom’, the reduction of transaction costs, and the importance of the protection of refugee human rights. These theories are commonly used in the cases of a specific issue with a transboundary nature, which produces [negative] international externalities. In addition, they reflect the significance of equal conditions within the EU Member States as well as the role of the EU as a sui generis organisation protecting human rights. It should be noted that this paper does not deal with the basic normative question of whether or not refugees deserve protection, but it aims to expose the advantages and disadvantages of an EU asylum policy. In its conclusion, the paper discusses the advantages of a centralised EU policy that also allows, within certain conditions, some type of competition between the Member States.

Abstract

In this article, we aim to explain international differences in socio-demographic structure of population among people around retirement age. We further test if transition into retirement is an important factor for obesity. Using Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) data, we first document that the Czech Republic has a significant and increasing trend in body mass index (BMI) and obesity (BMI > 29.99) for both men and women aged 50–70 years compared to other countries. Men have much higher level of BMI in comparison to many other European countries, whereas BMI of women is comparable to Estonia and Slovenia. However, we show a little evidence that underlying structure of Czech population with respect to education, occupation, health, age, and so on may explain increasing trend as well as higher level of obesity when compared to other European countries. Furthermore, we show that the transition into retirement is not associated with an increase in BMI. Using fixed effect model, we found that the obesity is directly related to increasing trend in obesity already before entering the retirement.

Abstract

In this article, we aim to explain international differences in socio-demographic structure of population among people around retirement age. We further test if transition into retirement is an important factor for obesity. Using Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) data, we first document that the Czech Republic has a significant and increasing trend in body mass index (BMI) and obesity (BMI > 29.99) for both men and women aged 50–70 years compared to other countries. Men have much higher level of BMI in comparison to many other European countries, whereas BMI of women is comparable to Estonia and Slovenia. However, we show a little evidence that underlying structure of Czech population with respect to education, occupation, health, age, and so on may explain increasing trend as well as higher level of obesity when compared to other European countries. Furthermore, we show that the transition into retirement is not associated with an increase in BMI. Using fixed effect model, we found that the obesity is directly related to increasing trend in obesity already before entering the retirement.