Labour markets

Lucas Davis, Catherine Hausman, 18 January 2019

Rises and falls in oil prices impact the macroeconomy, the stock market, investment, and of course the value of oil and gas firms. What happens to the fortunes of the leaders of those oil and gas firms? This column argues that the compensation of US oil and gas executives is closely tied to oil prices – much more closely than economic theory would predict. Theory says that executives should be rewarded for the value they bring to a firm, and that they should be incentivised to take the best actions on behalf of the firm. With billions of dollars at stake each year, boards and shareholders may want to revisit how compensation is structured at these firms.

Treb Allen, Caue Dobbin, Melanie Morten, 14 January 2019

A vigorous debate exists about the economic benefits of building a border wall between the US and Mexico. Yet, empirical evidence to guide the debate has lagged behind. This column studies the economic impact of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which built 550 new miles of fence on the US–Mexico border. At a construction cost of $7 per person, the fence led to a small reduction in migration but had negligible effects on the economy, with high-skilled US workers losing $4.60 per year in income, and low-skilled US workers gaining just $0.36 per year. 

Satoshi Shimizutani, 14 January 2019

Social security reforms in advanced economies may give people incentives to work past retirement age. The column estimates the financial incentives to work or retire at each age for elderly men and women in Japan. There is a correlation between series of social security reforms to reduce generosity and the recent recovery of employment rates for men aged 60-69 and for women aged 55-64.

Gene Grossman, 11 January 2019

It blows the minds of economists when voters choose protectionist policies that, they point out, make most of them poorer. Gene Grossman tells Tim Phillips how trade models can explain this, if they incorporate insights from other social sciences.

Wolfgang Dauth, Sebastian Findeisen, Enrico Moretti, Jens Südekum, 06 January 2019

Large internal wage disparities between cities are a common feature in countries around the world. Using data from Germany, this column argues that one key driver of this is rising assortative matching of high-quality workers and plants in large cities. One promising strategy to reduce spatial wage disparities is to improve matching within small cities.

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