1. Introduction
  2. Subject areas

Evidence-based policy making

IZA World of Labor provides decision-makers with relevant and succinct information based on sound empirical evidence to help in formulating good policies and best practices. It provides expert know-how in an innovative structure, and a clear and accessible style.

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  • Program evaluation

    Program evaluation

    Program evaluation provides an overview of the effectiveness of a variety of policies that have been tested in diverse settings across various countries. The knowledge provided suggests whether or not the individual and the economy fair better without the measures studied.

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  • Behavioral and personnel economics

    Behavioral and personnel economics

    Behavioral economics analyzes the emotional and cognitive factors that influence the decisions of actors. Personnel economics analyzes the internal organizational strategy of the firm and the human resource management practices chosen to pursue that strategy.

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  • Migration and ethnicity

    Migration and ethnicity

    Mobility is important for the functioning of markets and society. Migration deals with issues of national and international mobility, such as demand and supply, and what migration means for natives and migrants and for sending and receiving countries.

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  • Labor markets and institutions

    Labor markets and institutions

    Institutions have important consequences for the performance of households, companies, governments and entire markets; they determine the welfare of nations. Contributions explore the underlying mechanisms and the politico-economic determinants of such structures.

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  • Transition and emerging economies

    Transition and emerging economies

    The transformation of economic systems from plan to market in transition and emerging economies has significant consequences not only for labor markets in those countries. Their lessons can also guide the development of institutions and labor reform policies in other countries.

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  • Development


    Low-income countries differ from higher-income countries in that they have large informal sectors, greater prevalence of self-employment and subsistence agriculture, low female labor participation rates and poor labor market conditions. As labor is most often the only asset of someone in poverty, policies that are not associated with job creation may fail to reduce poverty. Hence, development deals with the potential of labor economics to address those challenges.

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  • Environment


    Optimal environmental policy aims at equalizing benefits and costs of improving environmental quality. While the benefits generally accrue in the form of increased health, worker productivity, quality of life, and amenity values, the costs of environmental regulations are mostly borne through impacts on industrial activity and labor market outcomes. Successful policy development requires information on the connection between environmental regulations, labor markets, and industrial activity.

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  • Education and human capital

    Education and human capital

    Education shows great resilience to shocks—labor demand for highly skilled workers has remained high in all kinds of economic conditions. Public policy for education and human capital include increasing the economic and social returns on education, fostering greater educational attainment, encouraging social and economic mobility, and providing vocational education, training, and lifelong learning.

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  • Demography, family, and gender

    Demography, family, and gender

    Population characteristics strongly predict labor market success. One of the biggest economic changes has been the rise of women in the labor market. The upcoming demographic imbalances suggest substantial adjustment processes on labor markets around the globe. Empirical evidence relating social, cultural, and biological processes to worker well-being is also provided.

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  • Data and methods

    Data and methods

    Data are the foundation for evidence-based research. Therefore, the value of different types of data collection is made transparent. Important statistical and econometric methods are explained that provide instruments to condense information and to identify and quantify correlation or causality. Data sources used in our articles are cited according to the IZA World of Labor data citation convention.

    The list of data sources can be found here.

    The list of methods can be found here.

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  1. Featured article
  2. Latest articles

Featured article

Is unconditional basic income a viable alternative to other social welfare measures?

Countries give basic education and health care to everyone, and for good reasons—why not basic income?

Automation and globalization have brought about a tremendous increase in productivity, but also accelerated job destruction, systemic risks, and greater income inequality. Current social policies may not be adequate for achieving the goals of redistributing the gains from automation and globalization, providing efficient buffers against economic shocks, and advancing the reallocation of jobs and skills. Under certain circumstances, an unconditional basic income might be a better alternative for achieving those goals. It is simple, transparent, and has low administrative costs, though it may require higher taxes.

10.15185/izawol.128 128

How do adult returns to schooling affect children’s enrollment?

Raising future expected monetary gains to schooling and poor families’ current incomes promotes school enrollment in developing countries

Universal completion of secondary education by 2030 is among the targets set by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Higher expected adult wages traced to schooling may play a major role in reaching this target as they are predicted to induce increased school enrollment for children whose families wish to optimally invest in their children’s future. However, low incomes and the obligation to meet immediate needs may forestall such investment. Studies suggest that school enrollment in developing countries is positively correlated with higher expected future wages, but poor families continue to under-enroll their children.

10.15185/izawol.305 305

Does unemployment insurance offer incentives to take jobs in the formal sector?

Unemployment insurance can protect against income loss and create formal employment

Unemployment insurance can be an efficient tool to provide protection for workers against unemployment and foster formal job creation in developing countries. How much workers value this protection and to what extent it allows a more efficient job search are two key parameters that determine its effectiveness. However, evidence shows that important challenges remain in the introduction and expansion of unemployment insurance in developing countries. These challenges range from achieving coverage in countries with high informality, financing the scheme without further distorting the labor market, and ensuring progressive redistribution.

10.15185/izawol.300 300