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Commentary

Watch exclusive video from conferences, debates and other events on labor market economics as well as reading the latest opinion pieces from IZA World of Labor authors.

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  • IZA World of Labor discussion on the economics of education

    IZA World of Labor discussion on the economics of education with Andrés Fernández from Universidad de Los Andes, Serena Canaan from Simon Fraser University and Michele Pellizari from University of Geneva

    Discussion questions include:

    Questions for Serena Canaan: In your paper you give as an example that if you put kids into a high-achieving classroom, they will do better in that classroom and later on. Kids are put in a classroom based on test scores. Other ways of doing that are prior teachers’ valuations or maybe kids’ prior performance in classes. Might those be better? Which would be fairer for students – the test approach or an approach based on subjective or prior grade point averages?

    Questions for Michele Pellizari: In your paper you find that if you are near to a university that offers STEM as a field of study, you are more likely to go there. In your example you use Italy but what about a place like the US where there are STEM majors at 3,000 colleges and universities? Would this make a difference in the US which is also a more mobile society? Especially in the US there is a tremendous difference in the quality of different colleges. I wonder if proximity to a good-quality place – would that matter and what can one do about that effect?

    Questions for Andrés Fernández: You discuss intergenerational transfers to elite education – why does this occur? Is it the school itself or is it parents pushing the kids, parental success being demonstrated? Why is this happening? What does your work tell us about Harvard’s defence in favour of quotas on Asians and their well-known preference for children of alumni? For everyone: We all want to improve the quality of education but all these improvements cost money. What is the most cost-effective way to improve the quality of university education? There is one cost which we haven’t mentioned – the remarkable inertia of universities in resisting any kind of change. Can you get universities to take action?

    Find related IZA World of Labor content on labor market institutions on our key topic page Higher education and human capital.
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  • IZA World of Labor discussion on labor market institutions

    IZA World of Labor discussion on labor market institutions with Daniele Checchi from the University of Milan and IZA, Moritz Drechsel-Grau from the University of Munich and Andrea Bassanini from Université Paris-Dauphine

    Discussion questions include:

    • Daniele, you talk about the correlation between hours and hourly wage rates – is the supply more important than demand, and more importantly, what does that imply about income inequality?
    • Moritz, how high should the minimum wage be?
    • Andrea, non-compete agreements – what do these imply about non-wage benefits and various aspects of the job?
    • Where are we going to be 10 years from now in all of your research as a result of the pandemic?

    Find related IZA World of Labor content on labor market institutions on our key topic page: Health, well-being, and happiness in the labor market.

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  • IZA World of Labor discussion on measuring poverty with Bruce D. Meyer

    IZA World of Labor discussion on measuring poverty with Bruce D. Meyer, the McCormick Foundation Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

    Discussion questions include:

    • You worry about regional differences in measuring poverty – are these only because of regional cost of living differences or is there something more to it beyond cost of living?
    • Let’s assume that the safety net is less affective in more conservative/ right-wing states. If one were to worry about regional differences because of differences in the safety net, wouldn’t that argue for a more inclusive poverty standard in right-wing states? Shouldn’t the governors there be very happy with that because that would give them more federal money since more people would be measured as being in poverty?
    • In Europe they measure poverty relatively in 60% of the median household income and in US it’s absolute. Which do you think is right – European median or US absolute?
    • Poverty is defined in terms of income. Why can’t we define poverty in terms of the purchase of some market basket of goods not in terms of the income needed to buy that market basket?

    Find related IZA World of Labor content on poverty measures on our key topic page: What can policymakers do to reduce poverty?
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  • IZA World of Labor panel discussion on environment and health

    IZA World of Labor panel discussion on environment and health with Ben Elsner from University College Dublin, J. Cristobal Ruiz-Tagle at London School of Economics and Political Science and Claudia Persico at the American University of Washington D.C.

    Discussion questions include:

    • Your paper includes information that unusual air pollution reduces the vote share of an incumbent party in Germany. Neat result, but why? Also, would you expect the same result in a country with more direct elections, i.e., the U.S.? 
    • You show that unusual air pollution increases the suicide rate in the U.S. Why? Also, does it increase suicide attempts, or just make attempts more successful? What would you expect?
    • You show that introducing solar-powered electricity generation in an area cuts hospital admissions for incidents of respiratory disease. I can easily see why; but is this effect large enough to matter: how can we value it, and how much of the cost of installing solar power might it offset?
    • All these results, and the papers imply that people are or should at least subconsciously be aware of the effects that you have documented. So why isn’t there more outcry, more push toward action on climate change?
    • What other effects that have not yet been documented might you expect? E.g., effects on development of as yet unborn children; differential effects on less-educated workers’ ability to function compared to more educated workers?
    Find related IZA World of Labor content on environment and health on our key topic page: Environmental regulation and the labor market.

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