M. Ayhan Kose, Franziska Ohnsorge, Shu Yu, 27 January 2022

Informality compounded the damage of the Covid-19 pandemic in emerging market and developing economies, and it is now threatening to hold back the recovery. This column argues that policymakers need to employ innovative measures, tailored to country circumstances, to help the informal sector cope with the consequences of the pandemic. Policies to better reach informal workers, such as online platforms and databases, as well as progress in digitalisation and financial inclusion can all help support vulnerable populations during times of crisis. 

Asger Lau Andersen, Amalie Jensen, Niels Johannesen, Claus Thustrup Kreiner, Søren Leth-Petersen, Adam Sheridan, 08 June 2021

To what extent do households self-insure to avoid cutting back on consumption following income losses, and which self-insurance channels are most important? This column reviews evidence on household responses to job loss using comprehensive high-frequency data from multiple sources in Denmark. Over the two years following job loss, 30% of the decline in disposable income is accounted for by a drop in household spending, leaving a gap of 70% that reflects the effects of self-insurance. This gap is filled by lower accumulation of liquid assets (~50%), increases in private transfers and other inflows (~10%), higher spousal labour supply (~5%), and lower net debt repayments (~5%). Mortgage borrowing and refinancing play only a small role.

James Poterba, Lawrence H. Summers, 25 September 2019

Martin Feldstein, who passed away in June 2019, was one of the most important applied economists of the last half-century. This column, by two of his students and close colleagues, celebrates his intellectual legacy, outlining his seminal contributions on a wide range of topics in public economics and beyond, his pioneering use of large data sets, and his influential voice in US public policy over many decades. As president of the National Bureau of Economic Research for nearly 30 years, Feldstein advanced the conduct and dissemination of economic research, and helped to create the modern economics profession.

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.

Christopher Busch, David Domeij, Fatih Guvenen, Rocío Madera, 17 October 2018

Workers experience income volatility over their lifetime due to changes in both individual and macroeconomic conditions. Using panel data from the US, Germany, and Sweden, this column analyses how the probability of income losses and gains changes systematically over the business cycle. Downside risk increases in recessions, while upside chance is reduced. However, tax and transfer programmes blunt some of the largest declines in incomes in recessions.

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