Russell Cooper, Moritz Meyer, Immo Schott, 28 October 2017

A major factor behind the ‘German miracle’ – which saw GDP collapse by almost 7% during the Global Crisis but unemployment increase by less than 1% – was a ‘short-time work’ policy that incentivised firms to reduce workers' hours rather than laying off workers. This column explores the effectiveness of the policy and the potentially negative effects on output and productivity. In the short term, short-time work prevented steeper falls in output and employment. However, it also affected the reallocation of labour between more and less productive firms, leading to medium-term productivity losses.

Robert Duval-Hernández, Lei Fang, Liwa Rachel Ngai, 23 October 2017

Economists have tended to focus on the role of taxation in accounting for the wide variation in average hours worked across OECD countries. This column argues that the differences are driven by women, particularly women without a college degree. As taxation rises, women are more likely than men to reduce the hours they work. Social subsidies for family care reduce the price of substitutable market services, resulting in women working more.

Alexander Bick, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, David Lagakos, 04 June 2016

Sandra Black, Jason Furman, Laura Giuliano, Wilson Powell, 02 December 2016

Over the past three years, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have implemented minimum wage increases, joining ten other states that have raised their minimum wages at least once since the last Federal increase in 2009. This column examines the impact of the more recent state increases on wages, weekly earnings, and employment among workers in the low-wage leisure and hospitality Industry. A comparison with states with no minimum wage increase since 2009 suggests that the recent legislation contributed to substantial wage increases with no discernible impact on employment levels or hours worked.

Alexander Bick, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, David Lagakos, 04 June 2016

The development accounting literature tries to account for cross-country output per worker differences by taking stock of inputs per worker. The data employed are often measured without great precision, however, making comparisons difficult. This column presents a new, internationally comparable dataset of average hours worked per adult across the world income distribution. Adults in poor countries are found to work a lot more and with lower productivity than those in rich countries. The findings suggest that those from poorer countries are not only ‘consumption poor’, but also ‘leisure poor’. 

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.