Labour markets

Hans Koster, Takatoshi Tabuchi, Jacques-François Thisse, 09 May 2021

Modern transportation infrastructure can help foster cheaper travel and a better-connected economy. This column shows that improvements in transportation can affect the location choices of firms in ways that are often beneficial to large regions, but may be detrimental to small intermediate regions through job losses. Using data from Japan’s high speed rail network, the authors confirm that ‘in-between’ municipalities that are connected to the network witness a sizeable decrease in employment.

Megha Patnaik, Andrea Lamorgese, Andrea Linarello, Fabiano Schivardi, 01 May 2021

In response to COVID-19, firms had to adapt to nationwide lockdowns and social distancing measures with little to no prior experience. This column examines the role of management in firms’ responses to the pandemic in Italy, the first western country to be badly hit by the outbreak, and finds that firms with structured management practices experienced lower declines in performance during the post-lockdown period. These firms were more likely to adopt labour-related strategies in response to the lockdown, including transitions to remote work.

John Bluedorn, Francesca Caselli, Niels-Jakob Hansen, Ippei Shibata, Marina M. Tavares, 30 April 2021

Early evidence from the COVID-19 recession suggested that women’s employment rates were falling disproportionately, portending a possible ‘she-cession’. Drawing on quarterly data from 38 advanced and emerging market economies, this column documents the extent and persistence of pandemic-induced she-cessions and uncovers significant heterogeneity across countries. In two-thirds of the countries studied, women’s employment rates declined more than men’s, but the differences were short-lived – lasting only a quarter or two on average – and strongly correlated to specific sectors of the economy.

Sergei Soares, Florence Bonnet, Janine Berg, 25 April 2021

At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, scholars around the world estimated the potential of working from home, given its efficacy as a measure to mitigate the spread of the contagion while allowing productive activities to continue. This column uses household survey data for 31 countries to update previous estimates of working from home during the pandemic. The new data suggest that that during the second quarter of 2020, 557 million workers worked from home, accounting for 17.4% of the world’s employment.  This estimate is remarkably close to the previous estimate from May 2020, based on an expert assessment of teleworkability adjusted for occupational distributions.

Yatang Lin, Thomas McDermott, Guy Michaels, 22 April 2021

Despite the higher susceptibility to floods and a growing climate crisis, more than 10% of the world’s population live in low-elevation coastal zones, and that percentage is growing. This column uses a new dataset on the location of housing and flood risk across thousands of kilometres of the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts to present a detailed picture of housing in low-elevation coastal zones, and its relationship to the vulnerability of different locations to flooding and sea level rise. It also explores how sea level rise may reshape cities, and considers implications in terms of rising costs of flooding and taxpayer subsidies, the economic decline of some neighborhoods, and lengthening commutes.

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