Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Michael Weber, 14 April 2020

The Covid-19 crisis in the US and the policy responses have led to unprecedented numbers of initial claims for unemployment, but there are concerns that total job losses are being understated. This column uses a repeated large-scale survey of households in the Nielsen Homescan panel to show that job loss has been significantly greater than implied by new unemployment claims, with an estimated 20 million jobs lost by 8 April – far more than were lost over the entire Great Recession. Many of those who have lost their jobs are not actively looking to find new ones.

Pascal Michaillat, Emmanuel Saez, 12 April 2020

A lower unemployment rate puts more people into work, but it also makes it harder for businesses to fill their vacancies. This column explores the trade-off between unemployment and vacancies, as captured by the Beveridge curve – a measure which can then be used to estimate the socially efficient unemployment rate for the wider economy. The analysis suggests that the US unemployment rate of 3.5% just before the coronavirus crisis was just about efficient. 

Daniel Baksa, Zsuzsa Munkacsi, Carolin Nerlich, 12 April 2020

Ageing populations can transform the composition of an economy’s labour force and threaten the stability of its pension system. This column examines the possible effects of reversing the recent pension reforms adopted since the early 2000s. It appears that reversing past pension reforms would be very costly and would put a disproportionate burden on current and future young generations. Even without reversals, further reforms are needed to address the adverse macroeconomic and fiscal impact of population ageing.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, Christopher Rauh, 08 April 2020

The spread of COVID-19 has already had a large negative impact on labour supply and earnings of workers in many countries. In this column, the authors leverage newly collected data from the US and the UK to show that these negative consequences are particularly harsh for younger workers, those with unstable employment relationships and lower labour income. The evidence calls for a quick response from governments in the form of stimulus and labour income replacement packages, and a robust plan to ensure that the younger generation are not permanently disadvantaged.

Mikkel Hermansen, 15 March 2020

More than a fifth of American workers are required to hold an occupational licence to do their job, usually with the aim of protecting public health and safety. However, secular declines in job mobility, business dynamics, and productivity growth have raised concerns over the costs of licensing and its potential influence on these trends. Using novel administrative data with nearly complete employment coverage, this column presents suggestive evidence of sizeable effects of licensing on job mobility, especially on job-to-job flows across states. 

Josef Zweimüller, 28 February 2020

Can differences in culture and attitudes towards work explain differences in unemployment across time and space?

Leah Boustan, 21 February 2020

A century ago, American nativists succeeded in establishing immigration quotas to drive up the wages of US workers. What happened next? Not what you might think, Leah Boustan tells Tim Phillips.

Antonio Conti, Elisa Guglielminetti, Marianna Riggi, 13 February 2020

The weak relationship between wage dynamics and unemployment in the euro area since the Global Crisis is widely perceived as one of the main causes of the ‘twin puzzle’ of missing disinflation between 2009 and 2011, and missing inflation thereafter. This column attributes the weak response of nominal wage growth to employment dynamics since 2008 to the countercyclical behaviour of labour productivity, which is driven, in turn, by the exceptionally high persistence of the downturn and the subsequent recovery.

Christine Exley, Judd Kessler, 23 December 2019

Women earn less than men at every level of employment, an inequality that has persisted for decades. This column examines one potential factor, namely, a sizeable gender gap in self-promotion. It considers four possible causes for this gap – performance, confidence, strategic incentives, and ambiguity – and while none can explain the gap alone, they do shed light on some of the labour market perceptions women may internalise over time, and to which employers should be sensitive in hiring practices.

Christiane Nickel, Elena Bobeica, Gerrit Koester, Eliza Lis, Mario Porqueddu, Cecilia Sarchi, 25 November 2019

Wage growth in the euro area over 2013 to 2017 was subdued despite notable improvements in the labour market, leading some to claim a breakdown of the output–inflation relationship. This column presents comparative analyses of wage developments in the euro area, showing that the Phillips curve is alive and well and can be used to explain much of the weakness in wage growth during 2013-2017. Other factors also found to have played a role include compositional effects, the possible non-linear reaction of wage growth to cyclical improvements, and structural and institutional factors. 

Xavier Jaravel, Erick Sager, 16 October 2019

International trade creates both winners and losers. Using comprehensive price data, this column estimates the US price effects of the China shock from 2000 to 2007. It finds that US consumers benefited from large price declines in product categories in which imports from China increased, as increased trade with China eroded the market power of US producers. The positive impact of the China shock on the purchasing power of US consumers is large in comparison to its negative impact on US jobs.

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 31 May 2019

In this Yale Insights animation, Mushfiq Mobarak summarises six observations from economic research about how immigration creates economic benefits.

Richard Blundell, 22 March 2019

Richard Blundell of University College London discusses the use of microdata to inform policy.

Will Abel, Silvana Tenreyro, Gregory Thwaites, 23 January 2019

Concentrated labour markets, in which workers have few choices of potential employers, reduce the wages of workers when they are not covered by collective wage bargaining agreements. But these types of agreements have become much less common in the past 20 years. This column uses employee-level data to show that even though UK labour markets have not on average become much more concentrated, concentration – which varies a great deal across regions and industries – is having a bigger impact on wages than before.

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.

Hâle Utar, 06 December 2018

The impact of trade shocks on labour market shifts is usually studied in the context of re-training and social welfare frictions. Using evidence from Denmark, this column shows how workers can experience long-run reductions in earnings no matter how easy it is to change sector. A sudden and obligatory shift toward a new sector may, by its nature, generate some worker dissatisfaction.

Lant Pritchett, 16 November 2018

In the developed world borders are being closed and popular resistance to immigration is rising. Yet Lant Pritchett of Harvard University tells Tim Phillips that the rate of migration from poor to rich countries is actually five times too low. Planned mass migration of unskilled labour, he argues, would make everyone better off.

Ian Goldin, Benjamin Nabarro, 24 October 2018

Anti-migration sentiment has been rising across Europe. This column shows that the economic impact of migration is positive, but depends almost entirely on the policies implemented to ensure that migrants can be productive and the extent to which the positive economic consequences of migration are distributed across individuals. Unless the rhetoric of a perceived cultural and economic threat posed by migrants is countered effectively, economies stand to lose out substantially from the implementation of anti-immigration policies.

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.

Ambar Narayan, Roy Van der Weide, 02 July 2018

Intergenerational mobility is important for both fairness and economic efficiency in a society. This column uses data from a new global study spanning five decades to show that average relative mobility is lower in developing economies, with no sign that the gap with developed countries is getting smaller. In addition, income mobility in several developing economies is much lower than their levels of educational mobility would lead us to expect. Labour market deficiencies appear to be contributing to this gap between mobility in education and income. 



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