Maarten Dossche, Andrea Giovanni Gazzani, Vivien Lewis, 30 August 2021

Labour productivity is more procyclical in OECD countries with lower employment volatility. To capture this new stylised fact, this column proposes a business cycle model with employment adjustment costs, variable hours, and labour effort. In the model with variable effort, it shows that greater labour market frictions are associated with procyclical labour productivity as well as stable employment. In contrast, the constant-effort model fails to replicate the observed cross-country pattern in the data. Labour market deregulation has a greater effect on labour productivity cyclicality and employment volatility when effort can vary. 

Francesca Borgonovi, Collin Hitt, Jeffrey A. Livingston, Sally Sadoff, Gema Zamarro, 16 January 2018

The Programme for International Student Assessment is a global standardised test of students’ mathematics, reading, and science skills. This column describes how the results of various studies using different approaches all find evidence that many students who take the PISA do not try as hard as they can, and that the level of effort varies widely across countries. The findings illustrate that a combination of ability and motivation may be more important than ability alone.

Arnaud Chevalier, Peter Dolton, Melanie Lührmann, 15 July 2017

Feedback has been found to improve exam performance in the context of higher education, but demand for feedback is low among students when obtaining it requires unrewarded effort. This column evaluates how the provision of extrinsic incentives affects students’ effort and performance. Having online learning assessments count towards final grades is found to trigger large participation increases, and better subsequent exam performance. Given the low cost of these interventions, they offer particular promise in higher education.

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