Excessive drinking is the main cause of high
male mortality rates, but the problem can be addressed
Eastern European countries, particularly former
Soviet Union economies, traditionally have the highest rates of alcohol
consumption in the world. Consequently, they also have some of the highest
male mortality rates in the world. Regulation can be effective in
significantly decreasing excessive drinking and its related negative
effects, such as low labor productivity and high rates of mortality.
Understanding the consequences of specific regulatory measures and what
tools should be used to combat excessive alcohol consumption is essential
for designing effective policies.
A mix of policies could be the solution to
reducing discrimination in the labor market
Discrimination is a complex, multi-factor
phenomenon. Evidence shows widespread discrimination on various grounds,
including ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or
beliefs, disability, being over 55 years old, or being a woman. Combating
discrimination requires combining the strengths of a range of
anti-discrimination policies while also addressing their weaknesses. In
particular, policymakers should thoroughly address prejudice (taste-based
discrimination), stereotypes (statistical discrimination), cognitive biases,
and attention-based discrimination.
Economic progress coupled with political and
institutional stability is needed to reduce unhappiness
Since 1989, post-communist countries have
undergone profound changes in their political, economic, and social
structures and institutions. Across a range of development outcomes—in terms
of the speed and success of reforms—transition is an “unhappy process.” The
“happiness gap,” i.e. the difference in average happiness levels between the
populations of transition and non-transition economies, is closing, but at a
slower pace than the process of economic convergence. Economic growth, as
the determinant of a country’s collective well-being, has been superseded by
measurements of institutional quality and social development.
Working when sick is a widespread phenomenon
with serious consequences for workers, firms, and society
Many workers admit that at times they show up
for work even though they feel sick. This behavior, termed “presenteeism,”
is puzzling since most workers do not incur financial losses when staying
home sick. The various reasons behind presenteeism are person-related (e.g.
individuals’ health or job attitude) or work-related (e.g. job demands and
constraints on absence from work). Working when sick can have positive and
negative consequences for workers’ performance and health, but it also
affects co-workers’ well-being and firms’ productivity. There are various
strategies as to how firms can address presenteeism.
Exposure to elevated levels of air pollution
adversely affects educational outcomes
The link between air pollution and human health
is well-documented in the epidemiology and economic literature. Recently, an
increasing body of research has shown that air pollution—even in relatively
low doses—also affects educational outcomes across several distinct age
groups and varying lengths of exposure. This implies that a narrow focus on
traditional health outcomes, such as morbidity and mortality, may understate
the true benefit of reducing pollution, as air pollution also affects
scholastic achievement and human capital formation.
Substance use reduces the academic performance of
A non-trivial portion of traffic fatalities
involve alcohol or illicit drugs. But does substance use—which is linked to
depression, suicide, and criminal activity—also reduce academic performance?
Recent studies suggest that the consumption of alcohol has a negative effect
on the grades of university students. Likewise, there is evidence that
marijuana use reduces the academic performance of university students.
Although students who use illicit substances are more likely to drop out of
high school than those who do not, this may reflect the influence of other,
difficult-to-measure factors at the individual level, such as
Looks matter and can tip the scales between the
right and left
Good-looking political candidates win more votes
around the world. This holds for both male and female candidates. Candidate
appearance may be especially important for uninformed voters, as it is easy
to observe. Voters may favor good-looking candidates because they expect
them to be more competent or persuasive, but it can also be that voters
simply enjoy laying their eyes on beautiful politicians. As politicians on
the right have been deemed more attractive in Europe, the US, and Australia,
the importance of beauty in politics favors conservative parties. A related
finding is that voters use beauty as a cue for conservatism.
Understanding religiosity is crucial to informed
Most religions in transition economies were
marginalized by their former communist regimes. Today, some of these
countries are experiencing a revival of religiosity, while others are prone
to secularization. Religious norms affect individual decision making with
respect to human capital investment, economic reforms, marital stability,
employment, and other contexts. This implies that the interests of both
religious and non-religious communities may differ and must be taken into
account when designing and implementing economic policies, which is a
challenge for policymakers.