Opinions

IZA World of Labor articles provide concise, evidence-based analysis of policy-relevant topics in labor economics. We recognize that the articles will prompt discussion and possibly controversy. Opinion articles will capture these ideas and debates concisely, and anchor them with real-world examples. Opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of the IZA.

Reducing unemployment is always on the government agenda

Author: Thorsten Schank

Working hours can be adjusted to achieve this goal. The so-called work-sharing concept was popular in continental Europe (e.g. France and Germany) in the 1980s and 1990s, when the agreed working time—the period of time a person spends at paid ...

Read more

Do/can firms benefit from training apprentices?

Author: Robert Lerman

Apprenticeships offer workers the chance to learn valuable occupational skills. Apprentices earn salaries, receive instruction in relevant concepts, contribute to production, and attain occupational qualifications. For many workers, apprenticeships a...

Read more

Designing social protection for women

Author: Lisa Cameron

In low-income countries a typical woman’s work history is a patchwork of informal sector work; periods out of the labor market for child birth, then childcare, and then, later, elderly parent care; working fewer than 40 hours per week while try...

Read more

Green energy and jobs

Author: Nico Pestel

The EU is ambitious when it comes to its climate targets. By 2030, the region wants to cut at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels), achieve a share for renewable energy of at least 27%, and improve energy efficiency by at least 27...

Read more

The union wage premium: Is it real?

Author: Alex Bryson

Very few areas of labor economics have attracted as much attention as unions’ impact on wages. The literature goes way back and has a well-established pedigree. There is a general consensus that unions do raise wages—at least in English-s...

Read more

Job insecurity is bad for our health

Author: Francis Green

We live in uncertain times. Eight years on from the Great Recession of 2008, and still one in ten workers across Europe is unemployed—that’s 21 million people. Global growth is faltering and in Europe the “Brexit” decision thr...

Read more

Political participation in a digital economy

Author: Robert Gold and Stephan Heblich

Globalization and digitalization go hand in hand. While international trade and labor mobility had already intensified before the invention of the internet, only with modern information and communication technology has the world become truly global&m...

Read more

Brexit and the American election

Author: Daniel S. Hamermesh

The divorce of the UK from the EU, after over 40 years of “marriage,” is crucially important for the entire European continent. Some politicians seem to believe that the multilateral (EU-wide) agreement on free trade and free mobility of ...

Read more

Are smaller classes better?

Author: Christopher Jepsen

A strongly held conviction in education research is that smaller class sizes are better for students. Surely a teacher can be more effective in a classroom with 20 students than in one with 30 students. Smaller class sizes have many potential benefit...

Read more

What can be done to reduce workplace sexual harassment?

Author: Joni Hersch

Sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of behaviors, from suggestive jokes and demeaning comments based on gender stereotypes, to explicit requests or demands for sexual favors, to sexual assault and other acts of physical violence. Workplace sex...

Read more

Internal hiring vs external recruitment?

Author: Jed DeVaro

A frequent question in organizations is whether to hire from within or outside the firm when filling job vacancies. The answer matters, because “insiders” and “outsiders” differ in important ways. Research has shown, for examp...

Read more

Do employees profit from profit sharing?

Author: Tony Fang

Profit sharing, a formal bonus program based on profitability, has a long history and is a practice that many firms continue to adopt. Recently, there has been considerable debate about whether employees benefit financially from it and similar pra...

Read more

How much do we work?

Author: Daniel S. Hamermesh

Today is Labor Day in the US, a holiday initially scheduled in contradistinction to what was viewed as the socialist labor holiday of May 1. It is a good time for asking how much we really work, since large numbers of people feel that their pay for e...

Read more

Does performance-related pay improve productivity?

Author: Claudio Lucifora

Do firms that offer their employees a compensation package linking pay to performance have higher productivity? Many firms around the world have attempted to improve their performance by replacing traditional fixed pay components with more variable ...

Read more

Impatience, schooling, and happiness

Author: Brian C. Cadena

Living and working in the modern world requires continually making difficult decisions about how to trade off hard work in the present for rewards in the future. Adolescents and young adults in particular face important schooling and career path choi...

Read more

How can knowledge and new ideas be turned into jobs?

Author: David B. Audretsch

Investment in new ideas was supposed to be the universal remedy in developed countries (most notably North America and Europe) for resisting the downward economic spiral triggered by globalization. In a rush to grasp the opportunities afforded by glo...

Read more

Are home births safe for everyone?

Author: N. Meltem Daysal

After decades of continuous decline, many developed countries are now experiencing sharp increases in home birth rates. For example, home births in the US increased by almost 30% between 2004 and 2009, while the fraction of home births in the UK almo...

Read more

Does having a child in your teens change your economic future?

Author: Phillip B. Levine

Women who give birth as teenagers typically have worse economic outcomes later in life. Statistics support this observation, and it is unlikely to come as a surprise to many. A natural leap from this is to conclude that having a baby as a teen causes...

Read more

Brexit: Implications for UK labor

Author: Daniel S. Hamermesh

The implications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU are unclear, and will depend on what happens politically once the dust has settled. The transition to a new relationship between the UK and its former partners will generate economic uncerta...

Read more

Brexit: An American politico-economic view

Author: Daniel S. Hamermesh

Perhaps I should not be commenting on the Brexit referendum, as I cannot vote on it. But even if I did not hold a professorship in England, it would still concern me directly, both as an economist and as an American citizen. I do not want to delve in...

Read more

The return on investment on migration: What’s in it for business?

Author: The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration

Migration plays a vital role in today’s global economy. With 3.3% of the total world population comprising migrants, they constitute a key demographic with great appeal to businesses, both as a potential talent pool, as well as a customer base....

Read more

Incentives for prosocial activities—Do they work?

Author: Nicola Lacetera

Millions of people volunteer their time to help the elderly, serve in soup kitchens, donate blood, clean beaches, and so on. Without the contribution of these individuals, many public goods and services would not be provided. Estimates indicate, for ...

Read more

How might self-driving cars change the lives of workers?

Author: Daniel S. Hamermesh

Google has been pushing the creation of self-driving cars, as have a few other companies. These are “not yet ready for prime time”; but I don’t doubt that within the next 20 years we will begin to see them on the roads. It is intere...

Read more

Can market mechanisms help solve the refugee crisis?

Author: Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga

Can market mechanisms solve the refugee crisis? In one word: No. It will take more than one policy to solve the escalating humanitarian and political crisis currently facing Europe. However, market mechanisms offer a real opportunity to help and to b...

Read more

International Workers' Day, 2016

Author: Daniel S. Hamermesh

In most countries May 1 celebrates workers, as it has since it was created by the Second Socialist International. Interestingly, it is not celebrated in the US, which instead observes the first Monday in September as Labor Day. America’s refusa...

Read more

Commentary on high minimum wage proposals

Author: Daniel Hamermesh

I am continually amazed at the absurdities of proposals that one sees made by politicians searching for votes. One of the most ridiculous labor-related proposals that I have seen in recent years was made this last week by Anthony Watson (whom a UK ne...

Read more

A note from the new Editor-in-Chief, Professor Daniel Hamermesh

Author: Daniel Hamermesh

I have just begun my tenure as Editor-in-Chief of IZA World of Labor (WoL), and I am thrilled to be part of this enterprise. I have devoted a 50-year career to labor economics, a field increasingly growing in importance and one in which we have accre...

Read more

Does corruption promote emigration?

Author: Friedrich Schneider

Corruption is a driving force of emigration; this is especially true for highly skilled workers, but is present within other groups of workers too. Knowing whether corruption leads to higher emigration rates—and among which groups—is impo...

Read more

Three reasons immigrants are valuable for the host country

Author: Amelie Constant

Each year on December 18, we observe International Migrants Day. Established by the UN General Assembly, it is a day devoted to the rights of migrants. This year especially, with the migrant crisis so high on European policymakers’ minds, it is...

Read more

Does education prepare you for working life?

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

As new school and university semesters are beginning in many regions, thoughts turn to the importance of education and how effectively it prepares young people for working life. Education’s main purpose is to equip children and young adults wit...

Read more

5 reasons why immigrants do not take natives' jobs

Author: Amelie Constant

"Do migrants take the jobs of natives?" That is the perpetual question that all countries (politicians and natives) ask. Fortunately, migration economics has an answer based on research and international evidence. In my World of Labor artic...

Read more

6 key points on European youth unemployment

Author: Werner Eichhorst

To mark International Youth Day, the IZA’s Director of Labor Policy for Europe Werner Eichhorst explains six of the key issues concerning the current levels of youth unemployment in Europe, and what action is needed to reestablish stable youth ...

Read more

Let the children play

Author: Michael A. Leeds

The world we live in seems to conspire against fun. Ever-tightening school budgets force out non-academic subjects such as music, art, and athletics. At the same time, ambitious parents discourage any distractions that might damage their children&rsq...

Read more

What if there were no national borders?

Author: Professor Klaus F. Zimmermann

We should all know our limitations. But what we could easily do without is the concept of national borders -- at least as far as they limit the mobility of people. This idea may seem like a naïve utopia. But mobility without borders is already a...

Read more

We can't blame the loss of mid-level jobs purely on robots

Author: Andrea Salvatori

Several developed countries including the US, UK and Germany have seen their labour markets polarised in recent decades as the number of middle-skilled jobs has declined relative to that of low and high-skilled ones. Technology has been singled out a...

Read more

The FutureWork Opinion Series - Colm Harmon

Author: Colm Harmon

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. Our Subject Editor for Education and Human Capital, Colm Harmo...

Read more

The FutureWork Opinion Series - David Robalino

Author: David Robalino

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. The IZA World of Labor Subject Editor, David Robalino, gi...

Read more

The FutureWork Opinion Series - Klaus F. Zimmermann

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. Our Director, Professor Klaus F. Zimmermann, gives h...

Read more

The FutureWork Opinion Series - Alexander Kritikos

Author: Alexander Kritikos

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. The IZA World of Labor managing editor, Alexand...

Read more

The FutureWork Opinion Series - Pierre Cahuc

Author: Pierre Cahuc

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. Our Subject Editor for Institutions, Pierre Cahuc, gives his r...

Read more

The FutureWork Opinion Series - Olga Nottmeyer

Author: Olga Nottmeyer

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. For our first installment, Olga Nottmeyer answers ou...

Read more

My husband and I were equal partners—then we had a baby

Author: Brigid Schulte

When my husband and I were first married, we promised we’d be equal partners and divided the labor in our lives pretty fairly. We spent about the same amount of hours working. We grocery shopped and cooked and did the laundry together, and even...

Read more

Reflections on International Workers’ Day

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

In a couple of weeks’ time, on May 1st, we mark the first anniversary of our IZA World of Labor project. It is hard to believe that this time last year we were preparing for our launch in Washington, DC. But of course, May 1st also marks Inter...

Read more

Is obesity the new smoking?

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

While smokers have been shunted out of public buildings, bars, and restaurants in many countries around the world, have you noticed the obese being moved out of sight too? Susan L. Averett has written about obesity’s effect on wages and employ...

Read more

Sexuality and the workplace: coming out and losing out?

Author: Nick Drydakis

Globally, fewer than 20% of countries have adopted sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws in employment, and 2.7 billion people live in countries where being gay or lesbian is a crime. In most of Africa and Asia, same-sex unions are illegal, whi...

Read more

An effective plan to promote youth employment

Author: Samuel Bentolila and Marcel Jansen

Employment has, at last, been growing over the past year in Spain. Are young people benefiting from this growth? The answer, unfortunately, is no. Whereas total employment has grown by 1.6% between the third quarters of 2013 and 2014, it has fallen b...

Read more

Should we raise the minimum wage?

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

The minimum wage debate is making headlines again, with recent studies fueling arguments on both sides. The discussion is global, from the US to Russia and China. Germany will also gradually introduce a national minimum wage of €8.50 beginning i...

Read more

Youth unemployment – evidence-based policy advice in Spain

Author: Werner Eichhorst

Youth unemployment levels are most severe in Spain. The nation’s unemployment levels exceeded the European average before the 2008 crisis, but they have increased significantly since then, highlighting the important role of public policies and ...

Read more

Tackling youth unemployment

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

Are today’s young people doomed to be part of a "lost generation?" In the wake of global financial crises, employment rates among 16 to 24-year-olds are looking increasingly gloomy. But are prospects really that bleak? African nations...

Read more

What to do on women's equality?

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

On 26 August, the US celebrated Women’s Equality Day, marking the 94 years since American women have had the vote. We have been living through almost a century of women’s suffrage. Why is it, then, that we are still grappling with un...

Read more

Does it pay to host mega sporting events?

Author: Peter Sloane

The football World Cup, organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the Olympic Games, organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), are the largest sporting events in the world, involving bi...

Read more

Expert for 15 minutes?

Author: Klaus F. Zimmermann

We live in an interconnected virtual world of knowledge where the internet is the cradle of information. Google, Wikipedia and social media channels provide us with finger-tip facts and allow us to join the conversation on any topic with an informed ...

Read more