Why spending on occupational skills can yield
economic returns to employers
Economists have long believed that firms will not
pay to develop occupational skills that workers could use in other, often
competing, firms. Researchers now recognize that firms that invest in
apprenticeship training generally reap good returns. Evidence indicates that
financial returns to firms vary. Some recoup their investment within the
apprenticeship period, while others see their investment pay off only after
accounting for reduced turnover, recruitment, and initial training costs.
Generally, the first year of apprenticeships involves significant costs, but
subsequently, the apprentice's contributions exceed his/her wages and
supervisory costs. Most participating firms view apprenticeships as offering
certainty that all workers have the same high level of expertise and
ensuring an adequate supply of well-trained workers to cover sudden
increases in demand and to fill leadership positions.
The number of prime-age males outside the labor
force is increasing worldwide, with worrying results
The global economy is full of progress
paradoxes. Improvements in technology, reducing poverty, and increasing life
expectancy coexist with persistent poverty in the poorest countries and
increasing inequality and unhappiness in many wealthy ones. A key driver of
the latter is the decline in the status and wages of low-skilled labor, with
an increasing percentage of prime-aged men (and to a lesser extent women)
simply dropping out of the labor force. The trend is starkest in the US,
though frustration in this same cohort is also prevalent in Europe, and it
is reflected in voting patterns in both contexts.
Labor market regulation should aim to improve the
functioning of the labor market while protecting workers
Governments regulate employment to protect
workers and improve labor market efficiency. But, regulations, such as
minimum wages and job security rules, can be controversial. Thus, decisions
on setting employment regulations should be based on empirical evidence of
their likely impacts. Research suggests that most countries set regulations
in the appropriate range. But this is not always the case and it can be
costly when countries over- or underregulate their labor markets. In
developing countries, effective regulation also depends on enforcement and
education policies that will increase compliance.
Low unemployment and high employment, but also
low, volatile pay and high inequality characterize the Russian labor
Being the largest economy in the Eurasian
region, Russia's labor market affects economic performance and well-being in
several former Soviet countries. Over the period 2000–2017, the Russian
labor market survived several deep crises and underwent substantial
structural changes. Major shocks were absorbed largely via wage adjustments,
while aggregate employment and unemployment showed little sensitivity.
Workers have paid the price for this rather stable employment situation in
the form of volatile wages and a high risk of low pay.
Does a changing public sector workforce in the
MENA region provide an opportunity for efficient restructuring?
Public sector hiring has been an essential
component of the social bargains that have maintained political stability in
the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As these bargains eroded, public
sector workforces contracted in relative terms owing to a partial freeze on
hiring and the promise of lifetime job security for incumbent workers. This
had profound effects on the age composition of the workforce. The upcoming
retirement of many workers provides an opportunity to restructure public
sector hiring to emphasize meritocratic recruitment processes and
performance-based compensation systems.
The hidden private costs of obesity: lower
earnings and a lower probability of employment
Rising obesity is a pressing global public health
problem responsible for rising health care costs and in some countries one
of the leading causes of preventable deaths. There is substantial evidence
that obese people are less likely to be employed and, when employed, earn
lower wages. There is some evidence that the lower earnings are a result of
discriminatory hiring and sorting into jobs with less customer contact.
Understanding whether obesity is associated with adverse labor market
outcomes and ascertaining the source of these outcomes are essential for
designing effective public policy.
Over the last 50 years women have been
increasing their participation in the labor market and in the crime
In recent decades, women's participation in the
labor market has increased considerably in most countries and is converging
toward the participation rate of men. Though on a lesser scale, a similar
movement toward gender convergence seems to be occurring in the criminal
world, though many more men than women still engage in criminal activity.
Technological progress and social norms have freed women from the home,
increasing their participation in both the labor and the crime market. With
crime no longer just men's business, it is important to investigate female
criminal behavior to determine whether the policy prescriptions to reduce
crime should differ for women.
Despite a plummeting working-age population,
Japan has sustained its labor force size because of surging employment among
As the third-largest economy in the world and
a precursor of global trends in population aging, Japan's recent experiences
provide important lessons regarding how demographic shifts affect the labor
market and individuals’ economic well-being. On the whole, the labor market
showed a remarkable stability during the financial crisis, despite decades
of economic stagnation and sluggish real wage growth. Rapid population
aging, however, has brought substantial changes to individuals in the labor
market, most notably women, by augmenting labor demand in the healthcare
Summary measures of inequality differ from one
another and give different pictures of the evolution of economic inequality
Economists use various metrics for measuring
income inequality. Here, the most commonly used measures—the Lorenz curve,
the Gini coefficient, decile ratios, the Palma ratio, and the Theil
index—are discussed in relation to their benefits and limitations. Equally
important is the choice of what to measure: pre-tax and after-tax income,
consumption, and wealth are useful indicators; and different sources of
income such as wages, capital gains, taxes, and benefits can be examined.
Understanding the dimensions of economic inequality is a key first step
toward choosing the right policies to address it.
Sexual orientation seems to affect job access
and satisfaction, earning prospects, and interaction with colleagues
Studies from countries with laws against
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation suggest that gay and
lesbian employees report more incidents of harassment and are more likely to
report experiencing unfair treatment in the labor market than are
heterosexual employees. Both gay men and lesbians tend to be less satisfied
with their jobs than their heterosexual counterparts. Gay men are found to
earn less than comparably skilled and experienced heterosexual men. For
lesbians, the patterns are ambiguous: in some countries they have been found
to earn less than their heterosexual counterparts, while in others they earn
the same or more.