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The way to group is to decide on a set of criteria you are going to use for comparison, get data for every country and then do some sort of clustering analysis to figure out which countries are similar on the basis of the data itself. Then you can 1) discuss meaningfully the differences between groups; 2) investigate how countries within the same group, though they have similar indicators, actually behave differently and what additional (possibly qualitative) features explain the differences.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 08:21:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a pretty huge chunck of research to do. This kind of research is not my field of expertise, so I am hesitant to even try. I am always in awe and admire many writers here that pull out very good data and graphs at times. The one upthread for example is very telling as it shows how different the impact of the security net kicking in on the poor really is. The differences between France and the US are "saying it all".
by mimi on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 11:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, we have a lot of comparative data in this discussion already.

Anyway, people were complaining about opinions not supported by data, so now we have the data. It's time to stop reading our opinions into the data and actually do some analysis. That does take time, but the bulk of the research is the data compilation, and that has been done already (for example, at nationmaster.com assuming that we don't want to question the quality of the data. Now that would be a huge research project.

If I find some time I'll take the tables from this page and do the clustering analysis.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 06:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am discouraged to comment here, because I already failed in my very first baby steps to find out how much Euro a German student in Kindergarten, Elementary School, High School and in University cost for the government. I found data, but I still didn't find anything that would explain to me how much the German Federal Government pays out of this chunk and how much the "Land", "Kommune" and or "City". I wanted to compare these data to the same of the US, because I believed they might be different.

I believed in my mind that the differences between the US and the German system for example are due to the different way the public school system is financed in both countries. I searched for data that would clarify who pays what with what kind of taxes etc. I couldn't find it so far. Of course I had not more than 45 minutes to do it. The only thing I found already that apparently in certain circles the US style financing method via vouchers (apparently introduced by Milton Friedman) was heavily discussed and mostly criticized in Germany.

If I can't contribute factual data, I just can't comment. I am sorry to admit that. I just admire the work that must behind a lot of posts here that show real data.

by mimi on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 08:17:43 PM EST
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