Toll Index August 2019

Starting in July 2018 the BAG – Bundesamt für Güterverkeht introduced yet another policy change which affected how lorries pay tolls within the MAUT system as well as the data the come out of this process which is used for computing the Toll Index. The change expanded the network of roads in which toll is due by adding all bundesstraßen to it.

While in the long run this is bound to make the Toll Index more accurate in these past twelve months it made it useless for nowcasting. Even the BAG had difficulty producing the numbers timely. August 2019 is now comparable to August 2018 values. Of course we have a missing value for August 2018 since it is not comparable to “August 2017” due to the policy change.

The Toll Index was first proposed in IZA DP5522 which ws published in the Journal of Forecasting. It has been widely covered in national and international media (selection):

The German statistical office, in cooperation with the Bundesamt für Güterverkehr,  has taken the MAUT data in its portfolio of data products and their efforts can be found here. The Destatis document describing the data is here and here is their publication calendar for 2019.

“European way of life” damaged by opinion copula

Ursula von der Leyen will be the next president of the European Commission and she is already drawing a shit storm of criticism, among other things, because she was never a “Spitzenkandidat”, something which, as some say, creates issues with democratic transparency.


One of Von der Leyen’s top team appointments, announced on Tuesday, included responsibility for migration in the remit of Greece’s commissioner-designate, Margaritis Schinas, under a newly created “Protecting the European Way of Life” portfolio. Because the phrase “protecting the European way of life” is considered a “dog-whistle” phrase used by the far right a new shit storm broke out.

Is Von der Leyen’s understanding of our “European ways” one that excludes migration? Is it a right wing one? It remains to be seen. What this incident is however is an instant of “opinion copula” which I studied here.

In principle the desire to protect your ways is not necessarily wrong if they are virtuous. Also what your ways include is not affected by your desire to protect them or not. The phrase “protect the European way of life” however is being used by those who think of “our ways” differently than others, in a way that excludes migrants etc. and hence as soon as Von der Leyen wants to protect our ways she is also assigned a particular understanding of our European values. Why? Because the phrase is copulated with far right opinions.

The open question, besides what Von der Leyen really believes, is: how would you express your desire to protect our European ways if your version of these “ways” includes compassion, migration, protection of human rights of refugees etc. If the bad guys hijacked the sequence of words “protecting the European way of life” what would we say to mean the same thing if your and my version includes migration?

Askitas N (2017) Explaining opinion polarisation with opinion copulas. PLoS ONE 12(8):