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IZA World of Labor discussion on labor market evaluation

Classification Behavioral and personnel economics

IZA World of Labor discussion on labor market evaluation with Gabriel Ulyssea from LSE London, Christina Brown, post-doc at University of Chicago and Weilong Zhang from the University of Cambridge

Discussion questions include:

Questions for Gabriel Ulyssea: In your paper you talk about an experiment on housing and neighborhoods in Brazil – you show how important a neighborhood is. It shows that having housing appropriately near the formal sector gets people formal jobs. To what do we owe the lack of housing offset by access and improvement in jobs in the informal sector? In other words, is there some gain or is it all loss? What about in a really poor country? What would be the difference?

Questions for Christina Brown: Your paper talks about the role of gender discrimination in supervisors’ evaluations which are incredibly important. You say that evaluations are perfectly gender blind if they don’t matter and that if they do matter for the allocation of money, employers start to discriminate and do evaluation by gender. How would employers behave if there was a 50% chance their evaluation won’t be used for the allocation of money? We all know that the education business is unusual – what if you were to do the same experiment in a for-profit company? Would you find the same thing?

Question for Weilong Zhang: Christina shows that women don’t complain enough and you show how important agreeableness is. And you say that improving women’s agreeableness would improve outcomes for them. This is based on the so-called “Big Five”. Have you done a test to see where you test on the “Big Five”? You show that personality matters, some counselling might help women to become less agreeable. Aren’t these behaviors formed really early in life? If you observe these same women who have gone through counselling – would there be anything less? A lot of people would like to alter our genetics – genetically designed babies - should one be bothered about the proposal or possibility of altering our non-cognitive abilities early in life?

Questions for everyone: I see one study after another about the so called intervention of some sort and the evaluation of the experiment. To me the number of such possible studies that can shower the economics journal is much too infinite. Can we infer anything more general given the localization of each of these studies? So, you don’t do a housing experiment – people live in ethnic and other enclaves. Is this going to be good or bad for the psychological behaviors and characteristics that both Christina and Weilong deal with?

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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