Author stands by findings of 'pulled' ESRI paper13/06/2012 - 10:52:10
The co-author of a controversial Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report which suggested that 44% of working families would be better off financially on the dole has said he is surprised it has been withdrawn.
The government think-tank took the unprecedented step of withdrawing the working paper yesterday evening because it said the underlying analysis needs major revision.
The ESRI also said the paper, entitled The Costs of Working in Ireland, represented un-refereed work by researchers who are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.
It said last night it was concerned that the public could be misled by the content of the paper.
The paper had said that work-related expenses are so high that four out of 10 working families would be better off on welfare.
Ex-ESRI Professor Richard Tol, who co-authored the report, said today that the conclusions in the paper still stand.
"I'm a bit surprised for two reasons: that I had to hear this from a journalist, and second that the paper is withdrawn - because as far as I know the conclusions stand," he said.
"It is true that we are revising the paper, but it is mostly to do with the flow of the writing and we're doing additional analyses - but we're not changing the conclusions."
Prof Tol, now based at the University of Sussesx, also took to Twitter to comment on the furore.
"pulled" report is here: http://t.co/VdzYTmDa— Richard Tol (@RichardTol) June 12, 2012
We're reorganizing the flow of the paper and adding analyses. We have not changed the bottom-line conclusion. http://t.co/VdzYTmDa— Richard Tol (@RichardTol) June 13, 2012
Earlier, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton denied that the Government put pressure on the ESRI to withdraw the report.
Minister Burton said the disagreement is between researchers within the ESRI, and denied the Government had anything to do with the controversy.
ESRI Director Frances Ruane also categorically denied that pressure was put on her organisation from either the Government or public servants to withdraw the study.
Ms Ruane said it was a working paper - and not a full report - and therefore the data gathered was incomplete.
"We don't put working papers into the public domain because they haven't been through a refereeing process," she said.
"This paper somehow got into the public domain and was being discussed as if it was an ESRI report.
"We felt that was confusing and potentially misleading so that's the basis on which we withdrew it."
The paper said having one child under the age of five led to additional costs and brought down the value of a salary by €9,000. It said this led to a situation where the welfare system encouraged a significant portion of people not to work.
The figure today prompted calls on the Government to ring-fence child benefit.
"It (child benefit) has already been reduced in three budgets (and) at the moment is at €140 per month," said Orla O'Connor, head of policy at the National Women's Council.
"We need to look at taxation more broadly, rather than just focusing in on child benefit."
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