Labour markets

Kazunobu Hayakawa, Hans Koster, Takatoshi Tabuchi, Jacques-François Thisse, 08 April 2021

The economic and social consequences of investments in transport infrastructure generate heated academic and policy debates because they typically involve costly investments that are supposed to yield high payoffs. Particularly telling examples of large transport infrastructure investments are investments in high-speed rail. This column shows that the Shinkansen has had a substantial effect on Japan’s spatial distribution of employment. The relative position of municipalities within the network and their underlying location fundamentals are essential in understanding why the effects of an extensive infrastructure are positive or negative at the local level.  

Hélène Benghalem, Pierre Cahuc, Pierre Villedieu, 05 April 2021

The rise of alternative work arrangements – from temporary and part-time work to self-employment and online gig-economy jobs – has increased the take-up of part-time unemployment benefits in several countries. This column presents the results of a large experiment among recipients of unemployment-benefits insurance in France. It shows that increasing part-time unemployment benefits raises the propensity to work in non-regular jobs, but also extends the duration of compensated unemployment and unemployment insurance expenditure, suggesting that the lock-in effects of compensated unemployment associated with part-time benefits require precise evaluation.

Guglielmo Briscese, Nick Feltovich, Robert Slonim, 03 April 2021

Companies often engage in activities of corporate social responsibility such as donating a share of profits to charity. Previous research suggests these initiatives can help attract and motivate workers, even at the cost of giving up part of their compensation. This column presents experimental evidence that shows, however, that when workers can choose who they want to work for, they prefer firms that offer a higher wage, and are attracted by a firm’s corporate social responsibility only when they consider their wage offer as ‘fair’. Further, if companies compensate donations to charity by reducing workers’ wages, this could ultimately harm workers’ wellbeing, depending on the worker’s views on the donations. 

Hâle Utar, 28 March 2021

The Mexican Drug War, including the ostentatious killings and the targeting of civillians, has been amply covered in the media. What is less known are the economic impacts of the violence, particularly at the firm level. This column presents evidence from Mexican firms, focusing on the differing experiences of ‘blue-collar’ and ‘white-collar’ organisations. The results suggest that violence can cause a negative labour supply shock, particularly in sectors that more frequently employ lower-skilled female workers.

Mette Foged, Linea Hasager, Giovanni Peri, 20 March 2021

The labour market integration of refugees and immigrants is key to their ability to contribute to the economy of the receiving country and to enhancing the fiscal sustainability of more open immigration policies. Using the quasi-random assignment of Danish refugees to language training, this column shows that language acquisition significantly increased the lifetime earnings of refugees. Refugees with language training became more likely to work in communication-intensive jobs and obtained additional education. The positive effects are transmitted to the next generation in terms of improved schooling outcomes for male children of refugees.

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