Business and Economics > Economics: General

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Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Carlo Pizzinelli, and Jay Rappaport
Labor markets in the UK have been characterized by markedly widening wage inequality for lowskill (non-college) women, a trend that predates the pandemic. We examine the contribution of job polarization to this trend by estimating age, period, and cohort effects for the likelihood of employment in different occupations and the wages earned therein over 2001-2019. For recent generations of women, cohort effects indicate a higher likelihood of employment in low-paying manual jobs relative to high-paying abstract jobs. However, cohort effects also underpin falling wages for post-1980 cohorts across all occupations. We find that falling returns to labor rather than job polarization has been a key driver of rising inter-age wage inequality among low-skill females. Wage-level cohort effects underpin a nearly 10 percent fall in expected lifetime earnings for low-skill women born in 1990 relative to those born in 1970.
Mr. Romain A Duval, Yi Ji, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, Mr. Ippei Shibata, and Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo
Are preferences for reforms driven by individuals’ own endowments or beliefs? To address this question, we conducted a cross-country survey on people’s opinions on employment protection legislation—an area where reform has proven to be difficult and personal interests are at stake. We find that individuals’ beliefs matter more than their own endowments and personal pay-offs. A randomized information treatment confirms that beliefs explain views about reform, but beliefs can change with new information. Our results are robust to several robustness tests, including to alternative estimation techniques and samples.
Carlo Pizzinelli and Mr. Ippei Shibata
This paper studies whether labor market mismatch played an important role for labor market dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic. We apply the framework of S¸ahin et al. (2014) to the US and the UK to measure misallocation between job seekers and vacancies across sectors until the third quarter of 2021. We find that mismatch rose sharply at the onset of the pandemic but returned to previous levels within a few quarters. Consequently, the total loss in employment caused by the rise in mismatch was smaller during the COVID-19 pandemic than during the Global Financial Crisis. The results are robust to considering alternative definitions of job seekers and to using a measure of effective job seekers in each sector. Preliminary evidence suggests that increased inactivity among older workers, the so called She-cession (particularly in the US) and shifting worker preferences amid strong labor demand are more prominent explanations for the persistent employment shortfall vis-à-vis pre-COVID levels.
Mr. Niels-Jakob H Hansen and Rui Mano
We quantify the effect of vaccinations on economic activity in the United States using weekly county level data covering the period end-2020 to mid-2021. Causal effects are identified through instrumenting vaccination rates with county-level pharmacy density interacted with state-level vaccine allocations, and by including county and state-time fixed effects to control for unobserved factors. We find that vaccinations are a significant and substantial shot in the arm of the economy. Specifically, an increase of initiated vaccination rates of 1 percentage point increases weekly consumer spending by 0.6 percent and reduces weekly initial unemployment claims by 0.004 percentage points of the 2019 labor force. Vaccinations also increase workrelated mobility. Importantly, we find that the effects vary with county characteristics. Specifically, urban counties and counties with initially worse socioeconomic conditions and lower education levels exhibit larger effects of vaccinations. This way, vaccinations are also a fair shot in the arm for the economy, which highlights that equitable distribution of vaccines is important to reduce inequality. Our results are specific to the United States, but hold important lessons for the expected economic impact of vaccinations in other countries.
Zidong An, Mr. John C Bluedorn, and Gabriele Ciminelli
The negative and stable relationship between an economy’s aggregate demand conditions and overall unemployment is well-documented. We show that there is a large degree of heterogeneity in the cyclical sensitivities of unemployment across worker and economy groups. First, unemployment is more than twice as sensitive to aggregate demand in advanced as in emerging market and developing economies. Second, youth’s unemployment is twice as sensitive as that of adults’. Third, women’s unemployment is significantly less sensitive to demand than men’s in advanced economies. These findings point to the highly unequal impacts of the business cycle across worker and economy groups.
Jorge Alvarez and Carlo Pizzinelli
This paper documents the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns on the Colombian labor market using household micro-data. About a quarter of employment was temporarily disrupted at the height of the first pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020. Women, the young, and the less educated were the most affected groups. Since then, a remarkable recovery, led by a rebound in informal employment, has taken place. By adjusting both employment levels and hours faster, the informal sector acted as an important margin of adjustment, particularly in those industries most affected by the first lockdown. The informal sector also appears to have played a role in decreasing the sensitivity of aggregate employment to more recent lockdowns in 2021, as the economy has learned to cope with pandemic restrictions, although the possibility of higher informality rates becoming embedded remains an substantial downside risk for long-term productivity.
Lucy Qian Liu
This paper studies the main factors that explain the low regional mobility in Spain, with a view to identifying policy options at the regional and central level to promote labor mobility. The empirical analysis finds that house prices, labor market conditions, and the pervasiveness of labor market duality at the regional level are the main determinants for Spain’s regional mobility, while labor market institutions and policies play an important role at the national level. Policies that facilitate wage setting flexibility and reduce labor market duality could help enhance the functioning of the labor market, thereby promoting labor mobility. There may be also room for policies to incentivize people to move and provide support through targeted active labor market policies.
Shai Bernstein, Emanuele Colonnelli, Mr. Davide Malacrino, and Tim McQuade
New firm formation is a critical driver of job creation, and an important contributor to the responsiveness of the economy to aggregate shocks. In this paper we examine the characteristics of the individuals who become entrepreneurs when local opportunities arise due to an increase in local demand. We identify local demand shocks by linking fluctuations in global commodity prices to municipality level agricultural endowments in Brazil. We find that the firm creation response is almost entirely driven by young and skilled individuals, as measured by their level of experience, education, and past occupations involving creativity, problem-solving and managerial roles. In contrast, we find no such response within the same municipalities among skilled, yet older individuals, highlighting the importance of lifecycle considerations. These responsive individuals are younger and more skilled than the average entrepreneur in the population. The entrepreneurial response of young individuals is larger in municipalities with better access to finance, and in municipalities with more skilled human capital. These results highlight how the characteristics of the local population can have a significant impact on the entrepreneurial responsiveness of the economy.
Adrian Peralta and Agustin Roitman
This paper uses a DSGE model to simulate the impact of technological change on labor markets and income distribution. It finds that technological advances offers prospects for stronger productivity and growth, but brings risks of increased income polarization. This calls for inclusive policies tailored to country-specific circumstances and preferences, such as investment in human capital to facilitate retooling of low-skilled workers so that they can partake in the gains of technological change, and redistributive policies (such as differentiated income tax cuts) to help reallocate gains. Policies are also needed to facilitate the process of adjustment.
Mr. Friedrich Schneider and Dominik Enste


Examines the role of the shadow, or underground, economy. Looks at ways of measuring it, the relationship between the shadow economy and the main stream economy, why it has been growing in size, and its effects on overall economic growth. How can states limit the size of the shadow economy, and does it matter that it exists?