Labour markets

Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, 23 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sudden, massive shift around the world to working from home. While there is great concern how this will affect inequality and how the economy will adjust, the shift has also saved billions of hours of commuting time in the US alone. Drawing on original surveys, this column estimates that the shift to working from home lowers commuting time among Americans by more than 60 million hours per workday. Americans devote about a third of the time savings to their primary jobs and about 60% to other work activities, including household chores and childcare. The allocation of time savings differs substantially by education group and between persons with and without children at home.

Titan Alon, Matthias Doepke, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, Michèle Tertilt, 22 September 2020

Unlike any other modern recession, the downturn triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has created larger employment losses for women than for men. Based on data from all US recessions since 1949, this column shows that the 2020 recession deviates most sharply from the historical norm in its disparate gender impact. The fact that job losses are much higher for women not only matters for gender equality, but will also reduce families’ ability to offset income losses, producing a deeper and more persistent recession.

Ravi Kanbur, 21 September 2020

From the public discourse, it seems clear that we are living in an age of rising inequality. However, common measures of income and consumption inequality disguise a more nuanced pattern of inequality change across the world. This column argues that inequality within countries has not been rising everywhere and that inequality between countries has decreased. At the same time, technological progress is increasingly displacing basic labour in favour of skilled labour and capital, across borders, and widening the wage gap. The overall effect is unclear. National policies to mitigate inequality are needed but, in the absence of international cooperation, are constrained by cross-border spillovers.

Verónica Escudero, Hannah Liepmann, 19 September 2020

Active labour market policies have the potential to improve workers’ employability, but a key challenge in developing and emerging countries is that without income support to cover their basic needs, many workers simply cannot afford to participate in such policies. This column examines the examples of Uruguay and Mauritius and finds that approaches combining both active labour market policies and income support are more effective in improving the labour market perspectives of vulnerable workers than the same policies implemented in isolation. However, the success of integrated policies clearly depends on design and implementation characteristics.

Matthias Heinz, 18 September 2020

Do scandals happen in banks because they recruit people who can't be trusted? Matthias Heinz tells Tim Phillips about new research with a sobering message for bank HR departments. 

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