Italo Colantone, Rosario Crinò, Laura Ogliari, 04 December 2015

Influential studies have shown that trade liberalisation is associated with substantial adjustment costs for workers in import-competing jobs. This column uses UK data to shed light on one such cost that has not been considered to date – subjective well-being. Import competition is found to substantially raise mental distress, through worsened labour market conditions and increased stress on the job. These findings provide evidence of an important hidden cost of globalisation.

Adriana Kugler, Maurice Kugler, Juan Saavedra, Luis Herrera, 28 January 2016

Vocational training programmes offer a second chance to those who drop out of the formal education system. Most studies of the success of such programmes, however, typically only analyse outcomes directly after participation. This column examines the medium- and long-term outcomes of a vocational training programme in Colombia. Results suggest that vocational training and formal education are complementary investments and that there are educational spillover effects for family members, in particular among applicants with high baseline educational attainment.

Christopher T. Stanton, Catherine Thomas, 03 November 2015

Outsourcing labour tasks to lower wage countries has been made much easier by the emergence of global online labour markets. This column argues that there are significant frictions in these markets, making it difficult for workers to get their first job and establish a reputation. However, new types of organisations have emerged that allow the sharing of reputations among groups of high-quality workers. These organisations seem to rely on offline social ties between workers to help reduce information-related trade barriers.

William Kerr, Martin Mandorff, 31 October 2015

Immigrants are more likely to concentrate around specific industries and entrepreneurship. Market integration and discrimination only go a certain way towards explaining this phenomenon. This column explores how social interactions affect immigrants’ employment decisions in the US. Fifteen ethnic groups are found to cluster around certain industries at a rate 10 times greater than the native population. Immigrants are argued to be drawn to the same industries as their countrymen due to the ease of diffusing skills through social interactions in the group, along with higher earnings due to specialisation.

Simone Moriconi, Giovanni Peri, 19 October 2015

Unemployment rates vary widely across EU countries. While national institutions and policies explain much of the variation, cultural values, attitudes, and beliefs may also play a role. This column uses survey data from 26 EU countries to investigate the existence of culturally transmitted preferences for work. Country-specific preferences for work are found to have a positive effect on emigrants’ labour market outcomes, with those from countries with an above-average preference for work having higher employment rates abroad. Cultural preferences are significant enough that EU countries may never converge to the same employment rate.

Juan J. Dolado, 09 February 2015

Youth unemployment has been a problem in Europe for several decades, but some European countries have fared much better than others in recent years. This column summarises the policy lessons to be drawn from a new VoxEU.org eBook that compares the labour market experiences of different European countries and provides an early evaluation of the European Commission’s Youth Guarantee scheme.

Manudeep Bhuller, Magne Mogstad, Kjell G. Salvanes, 22 September 2014

The impact of education on earnings over the life cycle is a critical factor for policy decisions ranging from education to taxation and pensions. This column exploits a unique Norwegian population panel data set to estimate an internal rate of return to additional schooling of about 10%. The standard Mincer-regression approach is also shown to substantially underestimate schooling’s rate of return.

Peter Cappelli, 21 September 2014

Many high-paying jobs in the US cannot be filled, raising concerns about an existing skills gap. However, this column does not find evidence in support of serious skills gap or shortages in the US labour force. Similarly to other developed economies, the prevailing situation in the US is due to skill mismatches. This could have implications for students and their tuition-paying families.

Michele Battisti, Gabriel Felbermayr, Giovanni Peri, Panu Poutvaara, 08 August 2014

Immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in most OECD countries. Economic models emphasising the benefits of immigration for natives have typically neglected unemployment and redistribution – precisely the things voters are most concerned about. This column analyses the effects of immigration in a world with labour market rigidities and income redistribution. In two-thirds of the 20 countries analysed, both high-skilled and low-skilled natives would benefit from a small increase in immigration from current levels. The average welfare gains from immigration are 1.25% and 1.00% for high- and low-skilled natives, respectively.

Alex Edmans, 25 July 2014

Happy workers might well be more productive than unhappy ones, but high worker satisfaction could also be a sign that workers are overpaid or underworked. This column examines the link between worker satisfaction and future stock returns in 14 countries. In most but not all countries, employee satisfaction is associated with higher future stock returns. Abnormal returns to companies with high worker satisfaction are significantly increasing in the flexibility of their countries’ labour markets.

David Autor, 02 May 2014

David Autor talks to Viv Davies about his recent research that analyses the differential effects of trade and technology on employment patterns in US local labour markets between 1990 and 2007. While the effect of trade competition is growing over time, the effect of technology has shifted from automation of production activities in the manufacturing sector towards computerisation of information-processing tasks in the service sector. The interview was recorded in April 2014 at the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society.

Pierre Brochu, David A Green, 22 January 2014

Economic research finds little evidence in support of the hypothesis that an increase in minimum wages significantly affects employment – either positively or negatively. This column discusses a study of the impact of minimum-wage changes on turnover rates. Minimum-wage increases are associated with a lower probability that a job will end, and with a lower probability that an unemployed person will find work. The former effect is established only for newly hired workers. Increases in the minimum wages are also associated with more stable jobs for all low educated workers. Thus, the trade-off between fewer jobs with higher wages and more job stability versus easier access to jobs should be taken into account in the minimum-wage policy debates.

Bob Butcher, 17 December 2013

The labour market ‘hollowing out’ thesis suggests that there are far fewer intermediate-level jobs and far more low- and high-level jobs than two or three decades ago, primarily due to technological advancement. This column reviews recent research that finds little evidence in support of this conclusion. Though the composition of intermediate-level jobs has changed, their volume has probably not. Policy implications for specific groups of job seekers are discussed.

Bernhard Dachs, Bernd Ebersberger, Steffen Kinkel, Oliver Som, 07 September 2013

European offshoring mostly concerns factory jobs, but some worry that innovation will soon follow. This column shows that offshoring firms employ more people in R&D and design, introduce more frequently new products, and invest more frequently in advanced process technologies compared to non-offshoring firms. Concerns that offshoring may hurt innovation because of the lost links between production and product development are not supported by the evidence.

Luis Garicano, John Van Reenen, 30 May 2013

France has a raft of labour-market regulations that kick in for firms with 50 workers or more. This column uses this threshold to identify the economic effects of size-contingent regulations. Such policies seem to subsidise small firms at the expense of larger firms. But since small firms are on average less productive than large firms, the French economy loses out.

Danielken Molina, Marc Muendler, 27 May 2013

Exporting is essential for economic development. But can firms move from local sales to export sales? How do firms prepare for exporting? This column presents new research showing that worker mobility is an important mechanism by which exporter knowledge spreads through the economy.

Richard Dobbs, Anu Madgavkar, 19 September 2012

Unemployment in the US and UK is over 8% and in many Eurozone countries is far higher. This column argues that we can’t just blame the recession – this is also symptomatic of long-term trends that, without a concerted effort by policymakers, will continue to stunt growth, deepen income inequality, weigh on public budgets, and cause living standards in many countries to stagnate.

Johann Custodis, 18 September 2012

There were 35 million prisoners of war in WWII. This column presents new research on the use of their labour in Nazi Germany, quantifying the economic impact on the Nazi wartime economy.

Federico Etro, 23 December 2011

To some, the world of art and world of economics are diametrically opposed. To others, such as the author of this column, they are part of the same. This column looks at the wages of painters during the 17th century Baroque art movement and asks what insights it can provide for art lovers, economists, and those who consider themselves both.

Sascha O. Becker, Marion Jansen, Marc Muendler, 01 October 2011

As jobs losses continue to haunt the headlines, people are left asking if long-term unemployment is to be one of the so-called benefits from globalisation. This column reports on a conference aimed at understanding how globalisation can be made to work for workers.

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