The youth population bulge is often mentioned in
discussions of youth unemployment and unrest in developing countries. But
the youth share of the population has fallen rapidly in recent decades in
most countries, and is projected to continue to fall. Evidence on the link
between youth bulges and youth unemployment is mixed. It should not be
assumed that declines in the relative size of the youth population will
translate into falling youth unemployment without further policy measures to
improve the youth labor market.
For decades, pension systems were based on the
rising revenue generated by an expanding population (demographic dividend).
As changes in fertility and longevity created new population structures,
however, the dividend disappeared, but pension systems failed to adapt. They
are kept solvent by increasing redistributions from the shrinking
working-age population to retirees. A simple and transparent structure and
individualization of pension system participation are the key preconditions
for an intergenerationally just old-age security system.
The rise in the average age of women bearing
their first child is a well-established demographic trend in recent decades.
Postponed childbearing can have important consequences for the mother and,
at a macro level, for the country as a whole. Research has focused on the
effect postponing fertility has on the labor market outcomes for mothers and
on the total number of children a woman has in her lifetime. Most research
finds that postponing the first birth raises a mother’s labor force
participation and wages but may have negative effects on overall fertility,
especially in the absence of supportive family-friendly policies.
Rising life expectancy and the growing fiscal
insolvency of public pension systems have prompted many developed countries
to raise the pension entitlement age. The success of such policies depends
on the responsiveness of individuals to such changes. Retirement has
increasingly become a decision made jointly by a couple rather than
individually by one partner. The empirical evidence indicates that almost a
third of dual-earner couples in Europe and the US coordinate their
retirement decision despite age differences between partners. This joint
determination of retirement has important implications for policies intended
to reduce the burden of pension costs.
It is a well-established view amongst economists
that good-looking people have a better chance of employment and can earn
more than those who are less physically attractive. A “beauty premium” is
particularly apparent in jobs where there is a productivity gain associated
with good looks, though this is different for women and men, and varies
across countries. People also sort into occupations according to the
relative returns to their physical characteristics; good-looking people take
jobs where physical appearance is deemed important while less-attractive
people steer away from them, or they are required to be more productive for
the same wage.
The demand for institutional long-term care is
likely to remain high in OECD countries, because of longer life expectancy
and falling cohabitation rates of the elderly with family members. As
shortages of qualified nurses put a cap on the supply of beds at nursing
homes, excess demand builds. That puts upward pressure on prices, which may
not reflect the quality of the services that are provided. Monitoring the
quality of nursing home services is high on the agenda of OECD governments.
Enlisting feedback from family visitors and introducing portable benefits
might improve quality at little extra cost.
Population aging in many developed countries has
motivated some governments to provide wage subsidies to employers for hiring
or retaining older workers. The subsidies are intended to compensate for the
gap between the pay and productivity of older workers, which may discourage
their hiring. A number of empirical studies have investigated how wage
subsidies influence employers’ hiring and employment decisions and whether
the subsidies are likely to be efficient. To which groups subsidies should
be targeted and how the wage subsidy programs interact with incentives for
early retirement are open questions.
Being beautiful gives a person an advantage in
many settings. Attractive people earn more and have an easier time getting
hired. People spend large amounts of money on goods and services to enhance
their beauty. Is this enhancement worth pursuing? Research suggests that the
expected improvement in beauty from these goods and services is limited.
Therefore, despite the large returns from having an attractive appearance,
the cost-effectiveness of investment in beauty enhancement is ambiguous. For
the average person, the monetary benefits of plastic surgery, medical
treatments to increase height, and expensive clothing are not worth the
Demographic factors in migrant-sending countries
can influence international migration flows. But when migrants move across
borders, they can also influence the pace of demographic transition in their
countries of origin. This is because migrants, who predominantly move on a
temporary basis, encounter new fertility norms in their host countries and
then bring them back home. These new fertility norms can be higher or lower
than those in their country of origin. So the new fertility norms that
result from migration flows can either accelerate or slow down a demographic
transition in migrant-sending countries.
In Europe, about one in eight people of working
age report having a disability; that is, the presence of a long-term
limiting health condition. Despite the introduction of a range of
legislative and policy initiatives designed to eliminate discrimination and
facilitate retention of and entry into work, disability is associated with
substantial and enduring employment disadvantages. Identifying the reasons
for this is complex, but critical to determine effective policy solutions
that reduce the social and economic costs of disability disadvantage.
The Great Recession that began in 2008–2009
dramatically increased youth unemployment. But did it have long-lasting,
adverse effects on the careers of youths? Are cohorts that graduate during a
recession doomed to fall permanently behind those that graduate at other
times? Are the impacts different for low- and high-educated individuals? If
recessions impose penalties that persist over time, then more government
outlays are justified to stabilize economic activity. Scientific evidence
from a variety of countries shows that rigid labor markets can reinforce the
persistence of these setbacks, which has important policy implications.
As migration rates increase across the world,
the choice of whether to retire in the host or home country is becoming a
key decision for up to 15% of the world’s population, and this proportion is
growing rapidly. Large waves of immigrants who re-settled in the second half
of the 20th century are now beginning to retire. Although immigrants’
location choice at retirement is an area that has barely been studied, this
decision has crucial implications for health care and social protection
expenditures, both in host and origin countries.