Positive contributions to cognitive and
non-cognitive skills justify public support of youth sports
In response to declining budgets, many school
districts in the US have reduced funding for sports. In Europe, parents may
respond to difficult economic times by spending less on sports clubs for
their children. Such cuts are unwise if participating in sports is an
investment good as well as a consumption good and adds to students’ human
capital. The value of sports is hard to measure because people who already
possess the skills needed to succeed in school and beyond might be more
likely to participate in sports. Most studies that account for this
endogeneity find that participation in youth sports improves academic and
labor market performance.
Comprehensive programs that focus on skills can
reduce unemployment and upgrade skills in OECD countries
Reducing youth unemployment and generating more
and better youth employment opportunities are key policy challenges
worldwide. Active labor market programs for disadvantaged youth may be an
effective tool in such cases, but the results have often been disappointing
in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
The key to a successful youth intervention program is comprehensiveness,
comprising multiple targeted components, including job-search assistance,
counseling, training, and placement services. Such programs can be
expensive, however, which underscores the need to focus on education policy
and earlier interventions in the education system.
Youth bulges are not a major factor explaining
current levels of youth unemployment
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.
Giving workers control over their working hours
increases their commitment and benefits firm performance
Allowing workers to control their work hours
(working-time autonomy) is a controversial policy for worker empowerment,
with concerns that range from increased shirking to excessive
intensification of work. Empirical evidence, however, supports neither view.
Recent studies find that working-time autonomy improves individual and firm
performance without promoting overload or exhaustion from work. However, if
working-time autonomy is incorporated into a system of family-friendly
workplace practices, firms may benefit from the trade-off between (more)
fringe benefits and (lower) wages but not from increased productivity.
Knowing which workers are displaced in
restructuring episodes helps governments devise the right equity- and
Continuous enterprise restructuring is needed for
the transition and emerging market economies to become and remain
competitive. However, the beneficial effects of restructuring in the medium
run are accompanied by large worker displacement. The costs of displacement
can be large and long-lasting for some workers and for the economy. To
devise the right policy interventions, governments need to fully understand
which workers are displaced and what costs they bear.
Family-friendly policies increase women’s labor
force participation, benefiting them, their families, and society at
Female labor force participation is mainly
driven by the value of women’s market wages versus the value of their
non-market time. Labor force participation by women varies considerably
across countries. To understand this international variation, one must
further consider differences across countries in institutions, non-economic
factors such as cultural norms, and public policies. Such differences
provide important insights into what actions countries might take to further
increase women’s participation in the labor market.
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 market 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.
Knowing people’s history helps in understanding
their present state and where they are heading
Information from longitudinal surveys transforms
snapshots of a given moment into something with a time dimension. It
illuminates patterns of events within an individual’s life and records
mobility and immobility between older and younger generations. It can track
the different pathways of men and women and people of diverse socio-economic
background through the life course. It can join up data on aspects of a
person’s life, health, education, family, and employment and show how these
domains affect one another. It is ideal for bridging the different silos of
policies that affect people’s lives.
Workers can benefit from technology that
substitutes robots or other machines for their work by owning part of the
capital that replaces them
Robots, that is any sort of machinery from
computers to artificial intelligence programs that provides a good
substitute for work currently performed by humans, can increasingly replace
workers, even highly skilled professionals, and thus reduce opportunities
for good jobs and pay. But, with appropriate policies, the higher
productivity due to robots can improve worker well-being by raising incomes
and creating greater leisure for workers. Consider the way Google reduces
the need for reference librarians and research assistants, or the way
massive open online courses reduce the need for professors and lecturers.
How these new technologies affect worker well-being and inequality depends
on who owns them.
There is no evidence that increases in the
minimum wage have hurt immigrants
According to economic theory, a minimum wage
reduces the number of low-wage jobs and increases the number of available
workers, allowing greater hiring selectivity. More competition for a smaller
number of low-wage jobs will disadvantage immigrants if employers perceive
them as less skilled than native-born workers—and vice versa. Studies
indicate that a higher minimum wage does not hurt immigrants, but there is
no consensus on whether immigrants benefit at the expense of natives.
Studies also reach disparate conclusions on whether higher minimum wages
attract or repel immigrants.