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April 29, 2015

The FutureWork Opinion Series - Alexander Kritikos

In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. The IZA World of Labor managing editor, Alexander Kritikos, gives his responses.

1. What do you see as the most significant trends for the world of work in the next five years?
The digital revolution and the “internet of things” will transform the workplace of many people across most industries, such as manufacturing, health, transport and construction. The development of “smart” factories producing “smart” products will substantially change the world of work. This will have a big impact on the qualification profile of high-skilled workers, the type and size of firms, and on the types of employment available. Politicians will need to start thinking about the right institutional environment for the new world of labor.

2. What is the biggest policy challenge facing decision makers in your field and in your region?
Overregulation is still the biggest issue, especially in the southern part of the European Union. The cost to these countries is high both in economic and social terms, as the high level of red tape inhibits investment in general, and foreign direct investment in particular. Entrepreneurs and firm owners respond to high regulatory barriers by moving to more innovation-friendly countries or by turning from productive activities to non-wealth-creating activities. To attract productive entrepreneurs, governments need to give up state control by cutting red tape and offering some protection to workers, without imposing major costs on firms or the economy.

3. Why is more evidence-based debate and policy making needed?
Policymakers and business leaders are constantly facing acute or systemic problems that need immediate action. At times, issues may call for far-sighted rethinking whilst battling with the current constraints of institutional settings. Key policy questions are often the focus of many scientific studies, yet inevitably they present conflicting findings. Therefore, finding a comprehensive and balanced overview of the relevant evidence can be a real challenge – and deciding how to act may seem almost impossible.

4. What are the biggest opportunities of wider adoption of evidence-based policy making?
The biggest opportunity lies in improved decision-making. Evidence-based policy making allows politicians to make more informed decisions based on experience: where policy measures have been rigorously tested and evaluated in terms of effectiveness. Ultimately, policymakers can avoid wasting taxpayers’ money and unnecessary regulation when they base their decisions on tried and tested policy measures.

5. What are the biggest barriers to policymakers adopting evidence-based decision making?
Policymakers often may not adopt approaches indicated by evidence, which can be a frustration for researchers. While researchers care about efficiency and effectivity in general, politicians have to consider their voters. Connected to this is the issue of timing. For politicians, a success story in the short term is preferred to a success story in the long term – even if the short-term success leads to long-term failure.

Look out for more opinions from IZA World of Labor experts throughout this week. Follow us on social media to keep up to date with our FutureWork campaign, and tweet your opinions to us @IZAWorldOfLabor

Please note:
We recognize that IZA World of Labor articles may prompt discussion and possibly controversy. Opinion pieces, such as the one above, capture ideas and debates concisely, and anchor them with real-world examples. Opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of the IZA.