Political freedom isn't the only thing declining in the former Soviet Union: according to a recent World Bank study, poverty and inequality are also diminishing, as they are in many other countries of the former Soviet bloc. From 1998 to 2003 the proportion of poverty-stricken citizens (defined as those who earn $2.00 a day or less) in most countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union fell from about one in five to one in eight—a total decrease of 40 million people. (Notable exceptions include Poland and Georgia, where poverty has risen.) And in many countries, including Russia, the poor have seen bigger gains than the rich. But the most rapid decline in poverty has occurred almost entirely in large cities, leaving many people behind. In Uzbekistan, to cite just one example, 55 percent of the population in the countryside still lives in poverty, compared with only four percent in the capital, Tashkent. Altogether more than 60 million in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union remain poor, while 150 million others are deemed "economically vulnerable"—meaning they earn $4.00 a day or less.
Brain drain has long impeded development in the poorer parts of the world, and the loss of doctors in particular has been a stumbling block in countries struggling with rampant disease and inadequate health care. New research published in
—"The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain," Fitzhugh Mullan, The New England Journal of Medicine
Most of us will admit to wasting some time at work. But three new studies suggest that more time is lost now than ever before. According to a survey by the magazine
—"What Blogs Cost American Business," Bradley Johnson, Advertising Age (article is available online for a fee); "Information Mapping Survey Reveals Email Writing Skills Vital to Job Effectiveness," Information Mapping, Inc.; "2005 Proudfoot Productivity Report," Proudfoot Consulting
As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification for abortions, a new study provides some information about the impact of parental-notification and parental-consent laws on U.S. teenagers' sexual behavior. It finds that laws in both categories correlate with a reduced rate of gonorrhea infection—a marker of high-risk sexual activity. After such laws were passed, gonorrhea rates fell by 20 percent among Hispanic teenage girls and by 12 percent among their white counterparts.
—"Abortion Access and Risky Sex Among Teens: Parental Involvement Laws and Sexually Transmitted Diseases," Jonathan Klick, Florida State University, and Thomas Stratmann, George Mason University