Labour markets

Gordon Dahl, Andreas Kotsadam, Dan-Olof Rooth, 17 January 2021

Despite women making up close to half of the labour force in most developed countries, occupational segregation remains high. One potential reason for this is gender stereotyping. This column uses an experiment conducted with Norwegian Army recruits to explore whether integration can change gender attitudes and related outcomes. It finds that intensive contact with female recruits during boot camp causes men to have more egalitarian attitudes in the short run but no effect on attitudes in the long term – perhaps because the duration of the experiment was relatively short compared to the overall military experience.

Liuchun Deng, Verena Plümpe, Jens Stegmaier, 16 January 2021

Robots will shape the future of labour. This column uses a large-scale, plant-level survey to provide the first microscopic portrait of robotisation in Germany, the country with the highest robot density in Europe. The findings reveal substantial within-industry heterogeneity – robot use remains relatively rare and its distribution highly skewed. Factors that influence a plant’s decision to adopt robots include size, skill composition, labour costs, and exporter status. New adopters have contributed substantially to the recent growth in Germany’s robotisation.

Daisuke Adachi, Taiyo Fukai, Daiji Kawaguchi, Yukiko Saito, 16 January 2021

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has led to a surge in teleworking and prompted renewed interest in the importance of commuting patterns for geographical labour markets. This column introduces commuting zones for Japan, based on the percentage of within-area commuting. The commuting zones, which the authors are making available for future academic use, capture well heterogeneity in the labour market. 

Olli Rehn, 13 January 2021

Global population ageing will lead to a trend reversal, with saving rates falling, real wages increasing, and greater inflationary pressures. The change in China’s economic model from forced saving towards increased consumption is amplifying this trend. This column reviews a new book by Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan in which the authors examine megatrends reshaping societies and economies. Whether they are proved right or wrong, their arguments should prompt a much-needed reflection on widely held assumptions about future developments.

Rafael Lalive, Arvind Magesan, Stefan Staubli, 12 January 2021

Policymakers have used a variety of tools to preserve the solvency of social security systems. The life-cycle model of behaviour predicts that financial incentives will shape people’s decisions on when to claim their pensions and when to retire but this is debatable. This column examines a reform to women’s pensions in Switzerland to understand how people respond to different policy instruments. Most people do not claim their pension benefits at the age that the standard model of behaviour would predict. Instead, individuals are influenced by the full retirement age (which they consider ‘natural’) and the fear of losing benefits by claiming early.

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