Evidence-based policy making

IZA World of Labor is an online platform that provides policy analysts, journalists, academics and society generally with relevant and concise information on labor market issues. Based on the latest research, it provides current thinking on labor markets worldwide in a clear and accessible style. IZA World of Labor aims to support evidence-based policy making and increase awareness of labor market issues, including current concerns like the impact of Covid-19, and longer-term problems like inequality.

 

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Intergenerational income persistence
Updated Measures of intergenerational persistence can be indicative of equality of opportunity, but the relationship is not clear-cut

A strong association between incomes across generations—with children from poor families likely to be poor as adults—is frequently considered an indicator of insufficient equality of opportunity. Studies of such “intergenerational persistence,” or lack of intergenerational mobility, measure the strength of the relationship between parents’ socio-economic status and that of their children as adults. However, the association between equality of opportunity and common measures of intergenerational persistence is not as clear-cut as is often assumed. To aid interpretation researchers often compare measures across time and space but must recognize that reliable measurement requires overcoming important data and methodological difficulties.

  • The labor market in Brazil, 2001–2022 Updated

    Brazil’s long-lasting recession has hurt the poor and has reversed inequality trends

    In the first decade of the 21st century, the Brazilian economy experienced an important expansion followed by a significant decline in inequality. The minimum wage increased rapidly, reducing inequality with no negative effects on employment or formality. This resulted from economic growth and greater supply of skilled labor. However, from 2014-2021, real wages were stagnant, and unemployment rates surged. Inequality rose again, although only marginally. Some positive signs emerged in 2022, although it is still too early to know whether they mark a return to past trends or a recovery from the pandemic.
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  • The importance of informal learning at work Updated

    On-the-job learning is more important for workers’ human capital development than formal training

    Andries De Grip , March 2024
    Although early human capital theory recognized the relevance of workers’ experience, its focus was on education and formal training. More recent studies show that much of the performance of newly hired workers is driven by learning by doing or learning from peers or supervisors in the workplace. Descriptive data show that workers learn a lot from the various tasks they perform on the job. Informal learning at work seems to be relevant for all age groups, although it is more meaningful for younger workers’ performance. Informal learning is far more important for workers’ human capital development than formal training courses.
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  • Compensating displaced workers Updated

    Job displacement is a serious earnings risk and the displaced are typically poorly insured

    Donald O. Parsons , February 2024
    Job displacement is a serious earnings risk to long-tenured workers, both through spells of unemployment and through reduced wages on subsequent jobs. Less developed countries often rely exclusively on government mandated employer-provided severance pay to protect displaced workers. Higher income countries usually rely on public unemployment insurance and mandated severance pay. Beyond these options, more administratively demanding plans have been proposed, including UI savings accounts and “actual loss” wage insurance, though real-world experience on either model is lacking.
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  • Trans people, well-being, and labor market outcomes Updated

    Transitioning across gender is related to greater life and job satisfaction but also affects acceptance in one’s society

    Nick Drydakis , January 2024
    Acceptance of one’s gender identity and congruence between one’s gender identity and outward appearance are associated with less adverse mental health symptoms, and greater life and job satisfaction. However, trans people are subject to human rights violations, hate crimes, and experience higher unemployment and poverty than the general population. Trans people often feel that they are citizens who are not allowed to be themselves and practice their authentic identity. Many biased treatments of trans people could be attenuated if legal protections and inclusive workplace practices were in place.
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  • Labor market institutions and policies in old and new EU members Updated

    After three recessions, a new emphasis on the importance of collective institutions and social dialogue is emerging

    Riccardo Rovelli , January 2024
    Old and new EU member states still adopt quite different labor market institutions and policies: convergence has been partial and limited. Nevertheless, a new agreement is spreading on the importance of well-developed, coordinated institutions, supported by social dialogue, in view of the increasing challenges posed by the macro economy and by the increasing fragmentation of labor markets.
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  • Multiple job-holding: Career pathway or dire straits? Updated

    Moonlighting responds to economic needs, but can generate new skills and careers

    Multiple job-holding, or “moonlighting”, is an important form of atypical employment in most economies. New forms of work, driven by digitalization, may enable its future growth. However, many misconceptions exist, including the belief that multiple job-holders are only low-skilled individuals who moonlight primarily for financial reasons, or that the practice increases during economic downturns. Recent literature highlights the significant links between moonlighting and job mobility. Multiple job-holding allows for the development of workers’ skills and spurs entrepreneurship.
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  • Rethinking the skills gap Updated

    Better understanding of skills mismatch is essential to finding effective policy options

    Evidence suggests that productivity would be much higher and unemployment much lower if the supply of and demand for skills were better matched. As a result, skills mismatch between workers (supply) and jobs (demand) commands the ongoing attention of policymakers in many countries. Policies intended to address the persistence of skills mismatch focus on the supply side of the issue by emphasizing worker education and training. However, the role of the demand side, that is, employers’ rigid skill requirements, garners comparatively little policy attention.
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  • Climate change, natural disasters, and migration Updated

    The relationship between climate change, natural disasters, and migration is not straightforward and presents many complexities

    The relationship between climatic shocks, climate related disasters, and migration has received increasing attention in recent years and is quite controversial. One view suggests that climate change and its associated natural disasters increase migration. An alternative view suggests that climate change may only have marginal effects on migration. Knowing whether climate change and natural disasters lead to more migration is crucial to better understand the different channels of transmission between climatic shocks and migration and to formulate evidence-based policy recommendations for the efficient management of the consequences of natural disasters.
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  • Employers and the gender wage gap

    Sorting across workplaces, and unequal rewards within them, are major causes of the gender wage gap

    In most developed countries, women have closed the gap in educational attainment and labor market experience, yet gender wage gaps persist. This has led to an increased focus on the role of employers and employment practices. In particular, research has focused on the types of workplace where men and women work, their promotion prospects and the extent to which they are rewarded differently for similar work. Understanding the relative importance of these features, and the mechanisms that generate them, is necessary to design effective policy responses.
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  • How are minimum wages set? Updated

    Countries set minimum wages in different ways, and some countries set different wages for different groups of workers

    Richard Dickens , September 2023
    The minimum wage has never been as high on the political agenda as it is today, with politicians in Germany, the UK, the US, and other OECD countries implementing substantial increases in the rate. One reason for the rising interest is the growing consensus among economists and policymakers that minimum wages, set at the right level, may help low paid workers without harming employment prospects. But how should countries set their minimum wage rate? The processes that countries use to set their minimum wage rate and structure differ greatly, as do the methods for adjusting it. The different approaches have merits and shortcomings.
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  • Should the earned income tax credit rise for childless adults? Updated

    The earned income tax credit boosts income and work effort among low-income parents, especially single mothers, and has contributed to the steep rise in employment among single mothers in the 1990s.

    Harry J. Holzer , September 2023
    The earned income tax credit provides important benefits to low-income families with children. At substantial costs (over $70 billion to the US federal government), it increases the incomes of such families while encouraging parents to work more by subsidizing their incomes. But low-income adults without children and non-custodial parents receive very low payments under the program in most years. Many of these adults are less-educated men, whose labor force participation rates and relative wages have been declining for years. They might benefit significantly from a more generous earned income tax credit for childless adults.
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  • Do institutions matter for entrepreneurial development? Updated

    In post-Soviet countries, well-functioning institutions are needed to foster productive entrepreneurial development and growth

    Ruta Aidis , August 2023
    Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the differing impact of institutions on entrepreneurship development is undeniable. Several post-Soviet countries benefitted from early international integration by joining the EU, adopting the euro, and becoming OECD members. This process enabled entrepreneurship to develop within institutional contexts where democratic and free market principles were strengthened. In general, however, post-Soviet economies continue to be characterized by higher levels of corruption, complex business regulations, weak rule of law, uncertain property rights and often, lack of political will for institutional change.
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  • How should job displacement wage losses be insured? Updated

    Wage losses upon re-employment can seriously harm long-tenured displaced workers if they are not properly insured

    Donald O. Parsons , July 2023
    Job displacement represents a serious earnings risk to long-tenured workers through lower re-employment wages, and these losses may persist for many years. Moreover, this risk is often poorly insured, although not for a lack of policy interest. To reduce this risk, most countries mandate scheduled wage insurance (severance pay), although it is provided only voluntarily in others, including the US. Actual-loss wage insurance is uncommon, although perceived difficulties may be overplayed. Both approaches offer the hope of greater consumption smoothing, with actual-loss plans carrying greater promise, but more uncertainty, of success.
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  • Instruction time and educational outcomes

    The quality of instruction and the activities it replaces determine the success of increased instruction time

    Increasing instruction time might seem a simple way to improve students' outcomes. However, there is substantial variation in its effects reported in the literature. When focusing on school day extensions, some studies find no effects, while others find that an additional hour of daily instruction significantly improves test scores. A similar pattern arises when examining the effect of additional days of class. These mixed findings likely reflect differences in the quality of instruction or in the activities that are being replaced by additional instruction. Hence these elements need to be considered when designing policies that increase instruction time.
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  • How to support adult caregivers?

    Caregiving for older adults is detrimental to caregivers’ well-being and requires policy interventions to support them

    Joan Costa-Font , June 2023
    Some studies estimate that the value of time spent on unpaid caregiving is 2.7% of the GDP of the EU. Such a figure exceeds what EU countries spend on formal long-term care as a share of GDP (1.5%). Adult caregiving can exert significant harmful effects on the well-being of caregivers and can exacerbate the existing gender inequalities in employment. To overcome the detrimental cognitive costs of fulfilling the duty of care to older adults, focus should be placed on the development of support networks, providing caregiving subsidies, and enhancing labor market legislation that brings flexibility and level-up pay.
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  • The widespread impacts of remittance flows Updated

    Remittances have the potential to lift developing economies

    Remittances have risen spectacularly in absolute terms and in relation to traditional sources of foreign exchange, such as export revenues. Remittances can improve the well-being of family members left behind and boost growth rates of receiving economies. They can also create a culture of dependency, lowering labor force participation in recipient nations, promoting conspicuous consumption, and accelerating environmental degradation. A more thorough understanding of their impacts can help formulate policies that enable developing economies to harness the most out of these monetary inflows.
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  • Apr 18, 2024

    G²LM|LIC Policy Meeting: Boosting Women’s Labour Force Participation – Evidence from Western and Sub-Saharan Africa

    Online

    This online workshop assembles recent empirical evidence on possibilities to improve the position of women in the labour market and their access to it in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa and discusses policy solutions.

  • Apr 25, 2024

    2nd IZA/OECD Workshop: Climate Change and the Labor Market

    Online

    The IZA/OECD workshops aim to increase synergies between researchers and OECD experts to promote the societal impact of academic research and the relevance of expertise. These workshops are organized twice a year and focus on topics of particular importance to the economy and society. They bring together researchers from the IZA network, OECD experts and policymakers. They take place by videoconference, over half a day, with presentations by experts, researchers and discussions with policymakers.

  • Oct 10, 2024 - Oct 11, 2024

    IZA/ECONtribute Workshop on the Economics of Education

    Online

    The 8th IZA/ECONtribute Workshop on the Economics of Education will convene international scholars focusing on the development of skills within both formal and informal educational contexts and their valuation in the labor market. The conference will feature a select group of presenters, alongside a poster session for local researchers from the host institutions. Presentations and the keynote speech will be accessible via Zoom to an external audience.