Labour markets

Tito Boeri, Juan Francisco Jimeno , 27 July 2015

Structural reforms of labour markets are almost universally advocated by international institutions. This column argues that some of the labour market reforms implemented in Europe during the Crisis were misguided. One problem is that when reforms are imposed on national governments by international institutions, they can backfire. To address this, the authors propose a new way to promote employment policies in Europe, which is based on positive conditionality.

Elisabeth Bublitz, 22 July 2015

Workers who switch firms can lose firm-specific human capital. This column presents evidence of how moving to occupationally specialised firms can compensate workers for wage losses that are caused by ‘specific human capital’. When switches occur between firms that are very distant from each other in terms of their knowledge structure, occupationally specialised firms are prepared to pay a wage premium that can outweigh the costs of such long-distance switches.

Arash Nekoei, Andrea Weber, 10 July 2015

The generosity of unemployment insurance is often cited as a reason for long spells of joblessness. But this view neglects other important, and potentially positive, economic aspects of such programmes. Using Austrian data, this column presents evidence that unemployment insurance has a positive effect on the quality of jobs that recipients find. This can in turn have a positive effect on future tax revenues, and has implications for the debate on optimal insurance generosity.

Mariacristina De Nardi, Eric French, John Bailey Jones, 05 July 2015

Rich US retirees are known to spend their last years living it up in retirement hubs such as Florida. This column presents new evidence from the US suggesting that, in fact, those with high incomes run down their assets more slowly than implied by the basic life cycle model. Uncertainty over when they’re going to die and the possibility of high medical expenses – along with altruism and bequest motives – are important in understanding their low rate of spending.

Ross Levine, Chen Lin, 02 July 2015

Labour market regulations have important implications for both the incidence of cross-border acquisitions, and the outcomes for acquiring firms. This column explores how variations in labour regulations between countries affect cross-border acquisitions and subsequent firm performance. For a sample of 50 countries, firms are found to enjoy larger returns when they acquire a target in a country with weaker labour regulations than the acquirer’s home country.

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