Labour markets

Tom Krebs, Pravin Krishna, William Maloney, 22 September 2017

Research on economic mobility has failed to disentangle the underlying economic drivers. In particular, opportunities for upward movement represent welfare-enhancing mobility, while risky income shocks represent welfare-reducing mobility. This column presents a framework for differentiating between these factors, and applies the model to Mexican data. Results show that opportunity and risk are equally important drivers of income mobility, with large but opposing welfare effects. This challenges the idea that societies with higher measured income mobility are better.

Wolfgang Dauth, Sebastian Findeisen, Jens Südekum, Nicole Woessner, 19 September 2017

Recent research has shown that industrial robots have caused severe job and earnings losses in the US. This column explores the impact of robots on the labour market in Germany, which has many more robots than the US and a much larger manufacturing employment share. Robots have had no aggregate effect on German employment, and robot exposure is found to actually increase the chances of workers staying with their original employer. This effect seems to be largely down to efforts of work councils and labour unions, but is also the result of fewer young workers entering manufacturing careers.

Justin Cook, Jason Fletcher, 17 September 2017

While diversity can lead to more innovation and better problem solving, it can also cause competition and conflict. This column examines the effect of genetic diversity among high school students in Wisconsin on their socioeconomic outcomes later in life. Genetic diversity is associated with more years of schooling, and higher job prestige and income. Students from more genetically diverse schools score higher on indexes of openness and extraversion.

Daniel Aaronson, Rajeev Dehejia, Andrew Jordan, Cristian Pop-Eleches , Cyrus Samii, Karl Schulze, 15 September 2017

Women’s fertility and labour supply decisions are made simultaneously, making it difficult to identify the effect of the former on the latter. This column explores the relationship using a dataset spanning 200 years and 103 countries, leveraging twin births to isolate causal effects. The key finding is that as countries develop, women’s labour supply becomes more responsive to additional children. The global decline in fertility over the last century has played a positive role in increasing women’s work in developed countries, but a negligible one in developing countries.

Pierre Cahuc, Sandra Nevoux, 14 September 2017

Short-time work reduces job destruction by subsidising firms to reduce hours of work and provide earnings support to workers facing lower hours. Since 2008, firms in France that stand to benefit have lobbied successfully to expand the programme massively. This column argues that the expansion primarily benefited large firms using short-time work recurrently to deal with seasonal fluctuations. Making employers contribute to the cost of short-time work would make the policy more efficient.

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