Cheti Nicoletti, Kjell G. Salvanes, Emma Tominey, 10 December 2017

Developed countries have seen substantial increases in the number of women who return to work after having a child. This is due to a host of well-researched factors, including tax credit incentives and increased availability of child care. This column analyses another factor determining mothers’ labour supply – the peer effects of women in their family. It finds that for each hour worked by a family member, women work up 30 minutes a week purely due to the peer effect. This finding is important for determining the direct and indirect effectiveness of policies encouraging women to work after having children.

Rachel Baker, Eric Bettinger, Brian A. Jacob, Ioana Marinescu, 11 May 2017

As low- and middle-skill jobs disappear from the labour market, a major policy objective is to help students gear their education towards higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. This column examines how aware US college students are of differing salaries and job prospects, and how they influence the choice of degree major. Earning potential and job prospects appear less important than enjoyment of and proficiency in a subject, possibly reflecting that students feel underinformed about the salaries and job status of alumni from their college.

Timo Boppart, Per Krusell, 21 May 2016

The rise of automation and, more generally, IT-driven structural change in the labour market have made policymakers and researchers worry about ‘disappearing jobs’ and a dire future for employment. This column examines data from several countries to get a long-term view of labour supply. To the extent that productivity improvements continue, hours worked will indeed likely fall. But this will not necessarily be a bad thing and jobs will not necessarily disappear.

David Cesarini, Erik Lindqvist, Matthew Notowidigdo, Robert Östling, 24 January 2016

Cash welfare programmes are widely thought to discourage work because unearned income reduces the labour supply even when it does not alter work incentives. This column discusses recent evidence from Swedish lottery players suggesting that this ‘income effect’ is economically significant, but modest in magnitude and surprisingly similar across various demographic groups. Introducing ‘unconditional basic income’ programmes in developed countries may reduce the labour supply across a broad cross-section of the population.

Matteo Picchio, Sigrid Suetens, Jan van Ours, 06 December 2015

The impact of wage and income shocks on labour supply is difficult to measure. Some studies therefore use lottery prizes as an exogenous shock on income. This column looks at the effect of the size of the prize won on employment status and salaried earnings, using data from Dutch lotteries. The findings show that lottery prizes lead to a reduction of working hours but not to a decrease in the employment rate.

Charles Manski, 23 August 2012

Does a high income tax rate cause people to work less, work more, or continue unaffected? This is a question that divides politicians and the public. And, according to this column, it is also a question that economists do not know the answer to. It is time to say so.

Dale Jorgenson, 08 August 2008

Dale Jorgenson of Harvard University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his projections for the growth of the US economy over the next 10 to 25 years, focusing particularly on the impact of information technology and labour supply. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in New Orleans in January 2008.

Alberto Alesina, Andrea Ichino, Loukas Karabarbounis, 09 January 2008

Women have a more elastic labor supply than men and participate less in the market because of intra-family bargaining. Their labor income should be taxed less to achieve optimal taxation and to change the allocation of family chores in a way that allows females to work more in the market if they want. This tax approach may be fiscally cheaper, less distortionary and would directly address the source of labor market gender differences: intra-family bargaining.

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