Executive Director Report

 

    Executive Director Report on IARIW Activities

    January 2005-August 2006

    In January 2005, the secretariat of the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW) moved from New York City, where it had been housed at New York University, to Ottawa, Canada, where it is currently housed with the Centre for the Study of Living Standards. The year 2005 was consequently a major period of transition for the Association. The focus of the first eight months of 2006 has been the organization, with Statistics Finland, of the 29th General Conference, which is taking place in Joensuu, Finland August 20-26. The purpose of this report is to review IARIW activities and operations over the last 20 months.

    Administrative Changes

    In January 2005, the membership approved a new set of bylaws for the Association. This updating of the bylaws was timed to coincide with the move of the IARIW to Canada, as the Association had to submit a set of bylaws in its application for incorporation as a non-profit organization under Canadian corporate law. The approved bylaws are posted at http://www.iariw.org/bylaws.php.

    One requirement of the Canadian Corporation Act is that corporations must hold an annual members meeting. The IARIW in the past had met only every second year at the General Conference. This meant that it is now necessary to organize a members meeting by conference call in the non-General Conference years. The first meeting was held on September 14, 2005, in conjunction with a Council meeting.

    In addition to our status as a non-profit corporation, the IARIW is also seeking charitable status under the Income Tax Act of Canada. Without such status, large surpluses generated by the Association will likely be subject to taxation. The Canadian Revenue Agency has recently informed the IARIW that it can receive charitable status under the advancement of education clause of the Charities Act if it makes two minor changes to its bylaws. We have been asked to include a clause that explicitly states that the object of the Association is “to advance education and knowledge in the general area of income and wealth by organizing conferences, by circulating scholarly papers accessible to the general public through the Association’s website, and by publishing a quarterly journal.” We have also been asked to add a clause that states that upon dissolution all remaining funds after the payment of debts must be given to a Canadian charity (including international charities based in Canada). These changes to the bylaws, if approved by the Council, will be presented to the general membership at the August 22, 2006 members meeting.

    Almost all IARIW members now use email. Consequently, communication between the secretariat and the membership, such as membership renewals and updates on activities, has migrated to this means of communications, with a substantial saving in postage and time. Email distribution appears to be working well.

    It the past it was often difficult for individual members to renew their membership. The establishment, in February 2005, of an on-line credit card payment facility though Paypal has made payment much easier. Around 80 per cent of individual members now pay membership dues on-line by credit card.

    The IARIW website (www.iariw.org) was revamped in 2005 and expanded significantly. It is the major means for dissemination of information about the Association to both the membership and the general public. Links have been added to organizations with related objectives and a new section on announcements of interest to members has been recently added. The website has become especially important for the posting of the General Conference program and the papers presented at the Conference.

    The IARIW also maintains a website (www.roiw.org) for the posting of past issues of the Review of Income and Wealth for the 1966-2002 period inclusive. This searchable website is accessible at no charge and represents a valuable resource for the world economics research community.

    IARIW published material from the 1951-65 (the Review of Income and Wealth was established in 1966) was scanned in 2005 and posted on the website. Many of these

    documents are of great historical (and current) interest as they represent seminal contributions from the pioneers in the national accounts field, including Simon Kuznets, Raymond Goldsmith, Colin Clark, Ragnar Frisch and Richard Stone.

    Financial Report

    In 2005, the IARIW recorded a surplus of $97,559, up from a deficit of $4,908 in 2004. This turnaround of $102,467 reflects a $61,000 increase in revenues and a $41,000 fall in costs. About one third of this improvement reflected a move from cash to accrual accounting. Gross assets of the Association on December 31, 2005 were $367,937 US, with net assets $354,996 US. Based on the first six months of 2006, the financial performance of the Association in 2006 is expected to be similar to that recorded in 2005. A key challenge facing the Association is to find worthwhile activities that make effective use of our financial resources.

    A detailed financial report for 2005 will be posted on the website and published in the December 2006 issue of the Review of Income and Wealth once approved by the Council and membership.

    Membership

    On August 9, 2006, the IARIW had a total of 411 members, up from 383 in 2004. Of this total, 318 were individual members (including 8 student members and 16 gratis members) and 93 were persons named by the institutional members as part of their institutional membership (each institutional member has the right to name three persons to receive the Review of Income and Wealth and vote in IARIW elections).

    The number of individual members has been growing rapidly in recent years. A total of 22 persons joined the Association in 2005 and 63 have joined so far in 2006. All members are listed in the members directory posted at http://www.iariw.org/memlist.php.

    The IARIW currently has 32 countries and organizations which are institutional members. These members pay a very important role in ensuring the financial sustainability of the Association. A list of the institutional members is posted at http://www.iariw.org/member.php and published on the inside back cover of the Review of Income and Wealth. In 2005, the IARIW was pleased to welcome Slovenia as an institutional member, and in 2006 Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

    General Conference

    The major activity of the Association is the organization of general conferences held every second year. These conferences bring together leading researchers from across the world to present frontier research in the income and wealth fields. The conferences are hosted by the national statistical offices of the venue country. In 2006, Statistics Finland has energetically and enthusiastically assumed this role, following the Irish Central Statistical Agency in 2004. The 2008 conference will be hosted by Slovenia and the 2010 conference by Switzerland.

    The 2006 conference, to be held August 20-26 in Joensuu, Finland, promises to be the largest yet, with 125 papers spread over 22 regular sessions and one poster session, the later a first for the IARIW. A key feature of this conference is that all papers, including papers in submitted/contributed paper sessions, will be presented by the discussant in the IARIW tradition. The prestigious Ruggles Memorial Lecture, which was established in 2004 at the Cork conference, will be delivered by Sir Anthony Atkinson of Oxford University. He will address a longer run view of the earnings distribution. The program for the conference is posted at http://www.iariw.org/c2006.php.

    There are two major innovations for this year’s General Conference, both made possible by the Association’s improved financial position. The first is the establishment of a financial assistance program for paper givers based on need. The total of $20,000 US was allocated for this program. Twenty-two persons applied for financial assistance and 16 were awarded support. Persons securing support came from a wide range of countries, including transition and developing countries such as China, Russia, Moldavia, Turkey, Brazil, Croatia, Bulgaria, Kenya, South Africa and Argentina, as well as developed countries such as the United States, the UK, Austria, and the Netherlands.

    The second innovation is the establishment of a conference bursary program for the professional development of economists in the national accounts and households survey fields in central statistical agencies of low income countries. The bursary covers the travel costs, accommodation and meal expenses, and registration fees of attending the General Conference. With the assistance of the United Nations Statistical Office, the IARIW invited the statistical offices of 11 African countries to nominate candidates for the bursary. We have offered three bursaries to economists from the central statistical offices of Botswana, Swaziland, and Zambia.

    The Ruggles Travel Grant, which provides financial support of up to $2,500 US to an economist under 35 from a transition or developing country to attend the General Conference, was awarded in 2006 to Ceclia Kwok Ying Lam from Hong Kong.

    Specialized conferences

    In the past the IARIW has organized specialized or regional conferences in non-General conference years. We are re-establishing this tradition and are currently partnering with the National Bureau of Statistics of China on a conference on income and wealth in transition economies. The conference is planned to take place in Beijing in September 2007. The call for papers is posted at http://www.iariw.org/call2007.php and will be published in the September 2006 issue of the Review of Income and Wealth.

    Review of Income and Wealth

    The Review of Income and Wealth, the leading international journal in the income and wealth field and the flagship publication of the Association is distributed to all members as part of the membership benefits. In August 2004, Bart van Ark of the University of Groningen and Stephan Klasen of Gottingen University succeeded Ed Wolff of New York University as editors. The editors have drafted a report detailing the operations of the journal from August 2004 to August 2006. This report will be posted at the IARIW website and will be published in the December 2006 issue of the Review of Income and Wealth.

    Blackwell Publishers is responsible for the production, marketing, and distribution of the journal. In 2006, our contract with Blackwell was renewed for an additional seven years on favourable terms. A key development has been the decision to increase the size of the journal from the 640 pages published in 2005 to 720 pages in 2006, a 12.5 per cent rise.

    Acknowledgements

    A large number of persons have contributed to the successful operation of the IARIW over the past 20 months. I would like to particularly thank the following persons for their contributions to this success: the 32 IARIW institutional members whose support ensures the financial sustainability of the organization; the IARIW Council for its strong the support of our activities; IARIW Chair Liv Hobbelstad Simpson for her leadership role in a number of areas; Past IARIW Chair Tim Smeeding for his important role in organizing the program for the 29th General Conference; Statistics Finland staff, especially Raija Lofgren and Eeva Hamunen, for the excellent organization of the 29th General Conference; session chairs for the 29th General Conference; Peter van de Ven for chairing the Financial Committee; Harry Wu for spearheading the organization of the joint IARIW-National Bureau of Statistics of China conference in 2007; Jane Forman for her extremely useful advice on many issues based on her many years of experience administrating the Association; Thesia Garner for overseeing the Ruggles Travel Grant; Bart van Ark and Stephan Klasen for editing the Review of Income and Wealth; the Blackwell staff, especially Michael Brown and Ariane Mildenberg, for the production of the Review of Income and Wealth; Brian Watson and Karin Bond for accounting and auditing services, and CSLS staff (Jean-Francois Arsenault, Elad Gafni , Peter Harrison, Simon Lapointe, , Sharon Qiao, and Jeremy Smith) for excellent assistance with administrative matters.

                                                                                              Andrew Sharpe
                                                                                              IARIW Executive Director
                                                                                              August 10, 2006
                                                                                              Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

     

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