James Bessen, 12 September 2019

Do industries shed or create jobs when they adopt new labour-saving technologies? This column shows that manufacturing employment grew along with productivity for a century or more, and only later decreased. It argues that the changing nature of demand was behind this pattern, which led to market saturation. This implies that the main impact of automation in the near future may be a major reallocation of jobs, not necessarily massive job losses.

Yukiko Asai, 05 September 2019

One factor exacerbating gender gaps in employment is the cost of affording maternity and parental leave to women as primary caregivers. This column analyses the relationship between the costs of providing parental leave and labour demand for childbearing-age women. As evidenced by a series of reforms in Japan in the last two decades, reducing the burden of parental leave costs from firms to social insurance systems increases both labour demand and starting wages for such workers.

Christoph Boehm, Aaron Flaaen, Nitya Pandalai-Nayar, 15 August 2019

What has caused the rapid decline in US manufacturing employment in recent decades? This column uses novel data to investigate the role of US multinationals and finds that they were a key driver behind the job losses. Insights from a theoretical framework imply that a reduction in the costs of foreign sourcing led firms to increase offshoring, and to shed labour.

Guay Lim, Robert Dixon, Jan van Ours, 28 January 2019

One version of Okun’s law specifies a relationship between the change in the unemployment rate and output growth. This column uses US labour market flows data to investigate this relationship between 1990 and 2017. It finds that the net flows between employment and unemployment are sensitive to changes in growth but respond differently to positive and negative changes. This implies that the US Okun relationship is stable but asymmetric, the effect of a change being larger in contractionary periods than in expansionary ones. 

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Ralph De Haas, 21 January 2019

Technological innovation can help to shift labour from sectors with low levels of productivity (such as agriculture) to higher-productivity sectors (manufacturing and, increasingly, services), with a profound impact on the nature of work and the types of skills that are in demand in the workplace. This column examines how this transformation is impacting jobs and employment across emerging Europe. The findings suggest that robotisation can explain only 13% of the total decline in the employment rate observed in these countries between 2010 and 2016.

Jacques Bughin, 23 December 2018

Advances in artificial intelligence have led to fears of job losses. This column uses a global survey covering more than 3,000 executives across 14 sectors and ten countries to examine the impact of AI on the demand side of the labour market. Ultimately, the effect on employment will depend on whether companies choose to use current forms of AI for innovation or pure automation, and whether they foresee a return from it.

Michèle Belot, Philipp Kircher, Paul Muller, 22 December 2018

Economic theory and the empirical evidence are mixed regarding the effect of wages on the volume of applications for job vacancies. This column presents the results of an experiment in which subjects saw artificial vacancies with randomly varying salaries. Results show that higher wages attract more interest on average, but that some job seekers prefer the lower wage jobs. Surveys suggest this is likely to be because they suspect less competition. 

Nicholas Bloom, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, 16 November 2018

The majority of businesses in the UK report that Brexit is a source of uncertainty. This column uses survey responses from around 3,000 businesses to evaluate the level and impact of this uncertainty. It finds that Brexit uncertainty has already reduced growth in investment by 6 percentage points and employment by 1.5 percentage points, and is likely to reduce future UK productivity by half of a percentage point.

Stefan Thewissen, Olaf van Vliet, 06 September 2018

The recent revival of protectionism has prompted further interests in the domestic employment effects of imports, in particular from China. This column examines the association between Chinese imports and domestic employment effects in 17 sectors across 18 OECD countries with diverse labour market institutions. The results indicate that employment fell in sectors that are more exposed to imports from China, especially among low-skilled workers. 

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. 

Benjamin Born, Gernot Müller, Moritz Schularick, Petr Sedláček, 18 July 2018

Growth and employment in the US have been robust over the past 18 months, and President Trump frequently takes personal credit for these trends. This column explores how the US economy would have evolved without Trump. An analysis shows no difference between the post-election performance of the US economy under Trump and a synthetic ‘doppelganger’ US economy without Trump, suggesting that there has been no ‘Trump effect’.  

Sarra Ben Yahmed, Pamela Bombarda, 24 June 2018

Trade liberalisation has been shown to affect formality rates in labour markets. This column exploits the Mexican trade liberalisation episode in the 1990s, to explore the labour market impact of reductions in import tariffs across gender and sectors. Within disaggregated tradable sectors, the probability of working formally has increased for both men and women in Mexico. Considering regional adjustments,exposure to trade liberalisation has had different effects across genders and tradable versus non-tradable sectors.

Hamish Low, Costas Meghir, Luigi Pistaferri, Alessandra Voena, 13 May 2018

Changing the terms and rules governing welfare can have substantial effects on employment. This column explores how the imposition of time limits for welfare receipt affected the employment, marriage, and divorce rates of women in the US. As intended by the reform, time limits decreased welfare use and the divorce rate, while increasing employment. Despite this, those women who were worst off prior to the reform are found to be even worse off after it.

Brian Kovak, Lindsay Oldenski, Nicholas Sly, 15 January 2018

The impact of offshoring on domestic employment is hotly debated as the US looks to renegotiate trade treaties, but the existing literature is conflicting in its conclusions. This column employs the variation in the timing of US treaties to infer the causal effect of tax treaty-induced changes in foreign affiliate employment on changes in US domestic employment. Employment declines at some firms are offset by expanded employment at others, yielding a modest positive net effect of offshoring on US employment, albeit with substantial employment dislocation and reallocation of workers.

Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Thomas Le Barbanchon, 09 January 2018

Despite their widespread use in the US and across Europe during the Global Crisis, the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of hiring credits is unclear, particularly in the context of recessions. This column uses the French hiring credit programme of 2008-09 to show that credits can be very effective at boosting job creation at low cost when they are unanticipated and temporary.

Katja Mann, Lukas Püttmann, 07 December 2017

Researchers disagree over whether automation is creating or destroying jobs. This column introduces a new indicator of automation constructed by applying a machine learning algorithm to classify patents, and uses the result to investigate which US regions and industries are most exposed to automation. This indicator suggests that automation has created more jobs in the US than it has destroyed.

Elena Cettolin, Sigrid Suetens, 13 September 2017

Studies have shown that ethnic discrimination occurs in many countries across Europe and the rest of the world, but distinguishing between discrimination based on ‘stereotypes’ and on ‘tastes’ is difficult. This column presents results from an experiment in the Netherlands that isolated taste-based discrimination. The results suggest that native Dutch participants reciprocate trust placed in them by immigrants of non-Western less than they reciprocate the trust of fellow Dutch natives. Since trustworthiness involves no behavioural risk, this implies that discrimination is the consequence of not only stereotyping, but also of tastes.

Georg Graetz, Guy Michaels, 13 May 2017

Recoveries from recessions in the US used to involve rapid job generation, but job growth has failed to match GDP recovery after recent US recessions. This column examines the role of technology in this and asks whether jobless recoveries are a wider problem outside of the US. In the US, industries that are more prone to technological change experienced slower job growth during recent recoveries, but it appears unlikely that modern technologies are causing jobless recoveries outside of the US. This poses a puzzle as to the nature of recent jobless US recoveries. 

Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, Hannah Postel, 19 April 2017

Many claim that immigrants negatively affect the labour market prospects of native workers in advanced countries. This column studies a large change in immigration restrictions in the US – the 1965 exclusion of almost half a million Mexican seasonal farm workers (braceros) from the US labour market. The bracero exclusion did not increase the employment or wages of native workers, and technology adoption was one of the adjustment channels. 

Daron Acemoğlu, Pascual Restrepo, 10 April 2017

As robots and other computer-assisted technologies take over tasks previously performed by labour, there is increasing concern about the future of jobs and wages. This column discusses evidence that industrial robots reduced employment and wages between 1990 and 2007. Estimates suggest that an extra robot per 1,000 workers reduces the employment to population ratio by 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5%. This effect is distinct from the impacts of imports, the decline of routine jobs, offshoring, other types of IT capital, or the total capital stock. 

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