At the 30th General Conference
Portoroz, Slovenia, August 26, 2008Chairs
: Stephen Jenkins (Out-going Chairperson) and Andrea Brandolini (In-coming Chairperson)
Documents were available to meeting participants in hard copy at the meeting.
Stephen Jenkins, the out-going IARIW Chairperson, called the meeting to order at 20:30 CEST (Central European Summer Time), with approximately 150 persons in attendance including Council members. The first order of business was to inform the membership that Odd Aukurst had recently passed away. He had been Director of Research at Statistics Norway and had served as both Council Chairperson and Editor of the Review of Income and Wealth.
Stephen Jenkins thanked Xu Xianchun from the National Bureau of Statistics of China on behalf of the Association for his key role in the success of the 2007 Beijing conference on measuring income and wealth in transition economies.
Stephen Jenkins introduced to the membership the Chairperson of the Council for 2008-2010, Andrea Brandolini, to be formally installed later in the meeting; the new elected Council members for 2008-2014, Francisco Ferreira, Joachim Frick and Alice Nakamura; and the new co-opted Council members for 2008-2010, Albert Braakmann, Ruth Meier and Bishnu Pant. Stephen Jenkins thanked retiring Council members Ole Berner, Karmen Hren, Patricia Ruggles, Liv Simpson, Holly Sutherland, and Xu Xianchun for their contributions to the Council.
Since the last members’ meeting, the Association has been successful in obtaining the institutional membership of the Asian Development Bank, the Austria National Bank, the European Central Bank, the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the Service Central de La Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (STATEC) from Luxembourg, CEPS/INSTEAD (Luxembourg), the Statistics Research Institute (Korea) and the World Bank. Stephen Jenkins welcomed these eight new institutional members.
Stephen Jenkins mentioned that due to difficulties in acquiring visas, there was no recipient of the bursary program attending the conference.
Report of the Executive Director
IARIW Executive Director Andrew Sharpe highlighted the main points of the Executive Director’s Report, which was among the documents available to meeting participants. The Report provides an overview of the activities of the Association from August, 2007 to August, 2008. The highlights were: the organization of a conference on the measurement of income and wealth in transition economies with the National Bureau of Statistics of China on September 18–21, 2007 in Beijing, China; the preparations for the 30th IARIW General Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia August 24-30, 2008; a 24 per cent increase in the number of institutional members from 34 to 40; the continuation of a very strong financial performance, with a surplus of $125,955 US in 2007 and increase in net assets to $644,314 US; and the organization of a national accounts training session in conjunction with the General Conference with 22 attendees.
Challenges remain for the Association. The under-spending on the budget for the financial assistance program to paper givers and for the Bursary program to help economists from statistical agencies from developing country participate in the IARIW conference suggest that more efforts must be spent publicizing these programs. The difficulties for persons in developing countries to obtain visas, which contributed to the under-spending for the bursary program, will have to be overcome for the next General Conference in 2010.
The Association is planning a special conference in 2009 in Nepal on the subject of the non-market economy. The details of this conference will be announced shortly.
Sharpe stressed that input from the membership on what the Association should be doing is welcome and needed.
Questions were raised about the diversity of the persons attending the conference, both in terms of country of origin and of age. It was suggested that new ways be found to reach out to developing countries and to students. The development of conference packages without an overnight stay was also proposed as a way to encourage student participation.
Report of the Treasurer
Treasurer Peter Van de Ven presented the 2007 audited financial statement. It showed net revenues of $125,955 (all figures are in US dollars) in 2007, up from $121,491 in 2006. Total expenditures were $267,559, up from $264,918 in 2006, while total expenditures were $141,604, down slightly from $143,427 in 2006. Net assets as of December 31, 2007 were $644,314. He reported that the asset allocation mix (25 per cent equity and 75 per cent fixed investment) was on target.
Peter Van de Ven underlined that for 2009, the projected surplus is $136,775. While the Association’s charitable status means that it will not face tax liabilities, it is desirable over the medium term to obtain a better balance between spending and income.
The Association’s financial statements must be audited annually. Peter van de Ven proposed retaining the services of the current auditing firm, Watson Folkins Corey LLP. Andrea Brandolini seconded, and the motion carried unanimously.
A member asked whether the Association has a policy about the desirable ratio of expenditure to net assets. The answer by the Treasurer was negative.
Report of the Editors of the Review of Income and Wealth
Stephan Klasen, co-editor of the Review of Income and Wealth (RIW) with Bart van Ark, Conchita D’Ambrosio and Robert Hill, highlighted several issues related to the journal for the period of August 2007 through July 2008. He first noted that the next issue will contain an obituary in honour of Odd Aukrust, past chair of the IARIW Council and RIW Editor. He then reported a number of positive developments: the annual number of submissions increased from 100 to 140; the impact factor doubled two years ago and has continued to increase since then, with the Review ranking 103 out of 180 ranked journals; and the RIW was financially sound, with rising revenue.
Beginning in late 2006 and early 2007, however, the processing time for submissions slowed significantly due to competing commitments on the part of the editors. Bart van Ark stopped taking new dossiers as he has taken the job of Chief Economist at the Conference Board. Stephan Klasen became Dean of his faculty, reducing his time available for the journal. To address this situation, the Council named Conchita D’Ambrosio and Robert Hill as editors to support Stephan Klasen effective April 1, 2008.
Stephen Klasen reported that the five-year contract for the current editorial team ends on July 30, 2009. Council recently published a bid for a new Editorial team, with the closing date for applications January 31, 2009. The call for applications is posted on the IARIW website.
Barbara Fraumeni, a member of the RIW Editorial Board and Council member, announced that the Kendrick Prize for best article published in the journal had been reinstated. She noted that due to the difficulty of comparing macro and micro articles, the committee decided to split the prize. The winners were François Bourguignon, Francisco Ferreira and Marta Menendez for their article titled “Inequality of Opportunity in Brazil” and Branko Milanovic for his article titled “An Estimate of Average Income And Inequality in Byzantium Around Year 1000.”
Members asked what the average time for refereeing was and how long it took from acceptance to publication. Stephan Klasen responded that 50 per cent of all articles were refereed in six months or less in 2006, but that it took nine to ten months to achieve the same outcome in 2007. The situation has improved considerably since the nomination of the two additional editors and the situation should improve even more with the introduction of an electronic handling system for submissions in the next year. When accepted, articles take on average six weeks to be published online, and then are included in the following issue of the Review. In 2004-2006, the rejection rate was 68 per cent.
Installation of the New Chairperson
Stephen Jenkins introduced Andrea Brandolini from the Bank of Italy, and the new Council Chairperson for 2008-2010, to the membership. Stephen Jenkins welcomed him to his new position and invited him to take over the chairing of the meeting. Andrea Brandolini thanked Stephen Jenkins for his very successful term as chair, for his commitment to the Association and for the successful conference in Slovenia.
Andrea Brandolini said that while the Association is successful, it can do more in terms of awareness. He invited members to provide suggestions on the way forward. He also reported that the Association would be launching a newsletter which would publish accounts or critical point of view of members on new events or issues of interest to the Association. Andrew Sharpe was thanked for a successful transition of the Association to Canada.
Report on the 2008 General Conference
Erika Zniradsic from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS) provided a brief overview of the challenges associated with the conference organization. 288 participants and 50 accompanying persons participated in the conference. Participants were given the choice of three hotels and could choose daily or weekly packages. Erika Zniradsic reported that much care was given to the preparation of conference material and that detailed information was provided to participants before the conference through the official conference website. She hoped that participants were satisfied with the conference organization and she thanked her colleagues for their efforts. Members commented that the book of abstracts provided by conference organizers was particularly useful.
Reports on Future Conferences
The 31st IARIW General Conference will be in Switzerland in 2010 from August 22 to August 28. Ruth Meier from the Federal Statistical Office of Switzerland noted that Switzerland is not an EU member, and as such visas arrangements will be necessary for some participants. She then played a multimedia presentation on Switzerland tourist attractions and main points of interest. The 2010 conference will coincide with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Swiss statistical agency. The conference will be held in the city of St. Gallen, in the northeast of the country, part of the German region, with all conference facilities in the city centre.
The 32nd IARIW General Conference will be in Boston, United States in August 2012. The conference will be sponsored by the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth (CRIW), the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER), the US Bureau of Census (USBC), the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Rosemary Marcuss from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis then played a multimedia presentation outlining Boston’s main attractions.
Session Proposals for the 31st General Conference
Session proposals had been sought from the membership prior to the meeting, and a list of 23 proposals submitted before meeting was one of the documents available for meeting participants. Andrea Brandolini announced that those proposing sessions would each be given a few minutes to present and answer questions regarding their proposals. The written proposals were shown on the screen for everyone to read as they were presented by their proposer. After every presentation, Andrea Brandolini asked those present to raise a hand if in favour of a proposal. The indicative preferences of the membership thus obtained would be used by Council to decide on which proposals to approve. The list of proposal titles, including the names of those submitting the proposal is included as an appendix. The final list of thematic session titles and organizers chosen for the 2010 General Conference by Council at its meeting on Thursday August 26, 2008 is to be posted on the IARIW website in September.
The meeting was closed by Andrea Brandolini following this process.