David Bell, David Blanchflower, 24 September 2018

The most widely available measure of underemployment is the share of involuntary part-time workers in total employment. This column argues that this does not fully capture the extent of worker dissatisfaction with currently contracted hours. An underemployment index measuring how many extra or fewer hours individuals would like to work suggests that the US and the UK are a long way from full employment, and that policymakers should not be focused on the unemployment rate in the years after a recession, but rather on the underemployment rate.  

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Duncan Roth, Tobias Seidel, 04 September 2018

While there is a large and controversial literature on the implications of minimum wages for employment and the distribution of income, little is known about the consequences across regions. This column describes how the implementation of a minimum wage in Germany in 2015 has raised incomes in the lower part of the wage distribution without affecting employment of low-wage workers. However, there is no clear evidence that the minimum wage has led to a net in-migration or out-migration in poorer German counties.

Miguel Ampudia, Dimitris Georgarakos, Michele Lenza, Jiri Slacalek, Oreste Tristani, Philip Vermeulen, Gianluca Violante, 14 August 2018

Quantitative easing has recently been shown to affect households differently depending on the composition of their income and wealth. Using euro area data, this column reviews the relevance of the direct and indirect effects of monetary policy on households’ incomes, which varies depending on employment status. The indirect income channel is found to be quantitatively more powerful, and especially beneficial for households holding few or no liquid assets. This implies that expansionary monetary policy in the euro area has led to a reduction in inequality. 

Pierre Cahuc, Francis Kramarz, Sandra Nevoux, 16 July 2018

Short-time work programmes aim to preserve jobs at firms that are experiencing temporarily low revenues, for example during a recession. This column assesses how the short-time work programme implemented in France during the Great Recession affected employment. Results confirm that the programme saved jobs and increased hours worked, and that participating firms recovered faster than non-participating firms. 

Jason Furman, Wilson Powell, 15 June 2018

The fraction of Americans employed fell between 2007 and 2017, during which time employment rates rose in many other advanced economies despite these countries also facing a similar headwind of an ageing population. This column shows how the biggest driver of this was employment among women, which stagnated in the US while increasing in most of the other advanced economies.

Mário Centeno, Miguel Castro Coelho, 06 June 2018

Portugal has turned a corner. Having gone through a mild boom, a slump, and a severe recession, all packed into less than two decades, the Portuguese economy has re-emerged with a newfound strength. This column examines this recovery in detail, focusing on important structural reforms that have taken place in the last couple of decades in key areas such as skills, investment, export orientation, labour market, financial intermediation, and public finances. The effects of these reforms were compounded by time as well as efforts to reignite demand.

Andrea Bassanini, Federico Cingano, 16 April 2018

Structural reforms can trigger and sustain economic growth, but they can also present transitory costs that policymakers seek to avoid during economic downturns. This column analyses the short-term response of employment levels to product and labour market reforms. While reforms entail non-negligible transitory employment losses on average, the losses are smaller for reforms implemented during economic upswings and in countries with significant labour market dualism.

Karl Walentin, Andreas Westermark, 02 April 2018

The Great Recession has spawned a vigorous debate regarding the potential benefits of stabilising the real economy. This issue takes on additional importance as the current economic situation in some countries, including the US, seem to imply an interesting monetary policy trade-off between stabilising the inflation and the unemployment level. This column summarises research indicating that stabilising the real economy raises the long-run level of output.

Irina Stanga, Razvan Vlahu, Jakob de Haan, 15 March 2018

Mortgage delinquency triggered the liquidity crisis that turned into the Global Crisis. Ten years on, mortgage lending still accounts for a large share of both household debt and banks’ assets. This column examines the incidence of mortgage arrears using a dataset for 26 countries from 2000 to 2014. The results show that higher unemployment is associated with an increase in defaults, while higher house prices have a strong negative association with defaults. The analysis suggests that dealing effectively with mortgage default requires a mix of prudential regulation and institutional design improvements.

Elva Bova, Tidiane Kinda, Jaejoon Woo, 07 February 2018

Understanding the distributional consequences of fiscal adjustment measures is important for equity, but also to ensure the sustainability of the measures. This column shows that fiscal adjustments increase inequality, including through unemployment. Spending-based adjustments worsen inequality more significantly than tax-based adjustments. Progressive taxation and targeted social benefits and subsidies introduced in the context of a broader decline in spending can help offset some of the distributional impact of fiscal adjustments.

Wendy Carlin, David Soskice, 23 January 2018

Following the post-financial crisis recession, the UK and other high-income countries have experienced slow growth and stagnant productivity, along with both low inflation and, more recently, low unemployment. This column introduces an intuitive macroeconomic model that helps explain this puzzling combination.

Stefania Albanesi, Aysegul Sahin, 03 January 2018

The gender unemployment gap which had persisted in the US until the early 1980s disappeared after 1983 (except during recessions, when unemployment among men has always exceeded that among women). This column argues that the convergence in female and male labour force attachment accounts for most of the closing of the gender unemployment gap. It also shows that gender differences in industry composition are the main source of the cyclicality of the unemployment gap.

Julia Bredtmann, Sebastian Otten, Christian Rulff, 21 December 2017

Little is known about how unemployment shocks are absorbed within the household. This column uses longitudinal micro data for 28 European countries to investigate the effect of husbands’ job loss on wives’ labour supply. Overall, there is evidence that women increase their labour supply in response to their husband losing a job. However, the response varies over both the business cycle and across different welfare regimes.

Yann Algan, Sergei Guriev, Elias Papaioannou, Evgenia Passari, 12 December 2017

A wave of populism has been gaining ground in the West since 2012. This column uses regional data for 26 European countries to explore how the impact of the Great Recession on labour markets has affected populist voting, political attitudes, and trust. The results indicate a strong link between unemployment and voting for non-mainstream (especially populist) parties. Unemployment is also correlated with increasing distrust of national and European parliaments.

Russell Cooper, Moritz Meyer, Immo Schott, 28 October 2017

A major factor behind the ‘German miracle’ – which saw GDP collapse by almost 7% during the Global Crisis but unemployment increase by less than 1% – was a ‘short-time work’ policy that incentivised firms to reduce workers' hours rather than laying off workers. This column explores the effectiveness of the policy and the potentially negative effects on output and productivity. In the short term, short-time work prevented steeper falls in output and employment. However, it also affected the reallocation of labour between more and less productive firms, leading to medium-term productivity losses.

Luigi Guiso, Helios Herrera, Massimo Morelli, Tommaso Sonno, 14 October 2017

Populism – on both the left and right – has recently become a powerful force in western politics. This column uses individual data on political attitudes to argue that economic drivers are the most important factors influencing the demand for, and supply of, populist parties. Recent data also show that as these parties gain support, their political rivals adapt to embrace populism.

Pierre Cahuc, Sandra Nevoux, 14 September 2017

Short-time work reduces job destruction by subsidising firms to reduce hours of work and provide earnings support to workers facing lower hours. Since 2008, firms in France that stand to benefit have lobbied successfully to expand the programme massively. This column argues that the expansion primarily benefited large firms using short-time work recurrently to deal with seasonal fluctuations. Making employers contribute to the cost of short-time work would make the policy more efficient.

Stéphane Bonhomme, Laura Hospido, 04 September 2017

The link between the rise in unemployment and the housing market in the US during the Great Recession is well documented. This column shows that in the case of Spain, the rise and fall in demand for construction workers following developments within the housing market had a big impact earnings inequality as well as employment. While there has been no apparent trend in the recent evolution of earnings inequality in Spain, countercyclical fluctuations have been substantial, with the construction sector playing a key role in this.

Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Andreea Minea, 08 July 2017

Despite the substantial costs associated with subsidised employment programmes targeting low-skilled youths, little is known about their effectiveness in easing school-to-work transitions. This column evaluates the effectiveness of such programmes for high-school dropouts in France with various types of labour market experience. Work experience, even in the market sector, is not always sufficient to increase the chance of very low-skilled youths being called for interview by an employer, suggesting that measures such as temporary jobs in the non-market sector or hiring subsidies in the market sector should be conditional on getting a certification of skills at the end of the employment period, at least for previously unskilled youths.

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