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.

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Happiness as a guide to labor market policy Updated

Happiness is key to a productive economy, and a job is key to individual happiness

Jo Ritzen

Measures of individual happiness, or well-being, can guide labor market policies. Individual unemployment, as well as the rate of unemployment in society, have a negative effect on happiness. In contrast, employment protection and unemployment benefits can contribute to happiness—though when such policies prolong unemployment, the net effect on national happiness is negative. Active labor market policies that create more job opportunities increase happiness, which in turn increases productivity. Measures of individual happiness should therefore guide labor market policy more explicitly.

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  • Recruiting intensity Updated

    Recruiting intensity is critical for understanding fluctuations in the labor market

    R. Jason Faberman, July 2020
    When hiring new workers, employers use a wide variety of different recruiting methods in addition to posting a vacancy announcement, such as adjusting education, experience, or technical requirements, or offering higher wages. The intensity with which employers make use of these alternative methods can vary widely depending on a firm’s performance and with the business cycle. In fact, persistently low recruiting intensity partly helps to explain the sluggish pace of job growth in the US economy following the Great Recession, and the historically subpar wage growth during the subsequent expansion.
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  • Who benefits from firm-sponsored training? Updated

    Firm-sponsored training benefits both workers and firms through higher wages, increased productivity and innovation

    Benoit Dostie, July 2020
    Workers participating in firm-sponsored training receive higher wages as a result. But given that firms pay the majority of costs for training, shouldn’t they also benefit? Empirical evidence shows that this is in fact the case. Firm-sponsored training leads to higher productivity levels and increased innovation, both of which benefit the firm. Training can also be complementary to, and enhance, other types of firm investment, particularly in physical capital, such as information and communication technology (ICT), and in organizational capital, such as the implementation of high-performance workplace practices.
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  • Bonuses and performance evaluations

    Individual bonuses do not always raise performance; it depends on the characteristics of the job

    Dirk Sliwka, July 2020
    Economists have for a long time argued that performance-based bonuses raise performance. Indeed, many firms use bonuses tied to individual performance to motivate their employees. However, there has been heated debate among human resources professionals recently, and some firms have moved away from individual performance bonuses toward fixed wages only or collective performance incentive schemes such as profit-sharing or team incentives. The appropriate approach depends on each company's unique situation, and managers need to realize that individual bonus plans are not a panacea to motivate employees.
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  • Labor market performance and the rise of populism

    Automation, globalization, and crisis-driven spikes in unemployment have contributed to rising populism in advanced economies

    Sergei Guriev, July 2020
    The recent rise of populism in advanced economies reveals major voter discontent. To effectively respond to voters’ grievances, researchers and policymakers need to understand their drivers. Recent empirical research shows that these drivers include both long-term trends (job polarization due to automation and globalization) and the rise in unemployment due to the recent global financial crisis. These factors have undermined public trust in the political establishment and have contributed to increased governmental representation for anti-establishment parties.
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  • Are workers motivated by the greater good? Updated

    Workers care about employers’ social causes, but the public sector does not attract particularly motivated employees

    Mirco Tonin, July 2020
    Employees are more willing to work and put effort in for an employer that genuinely promotes the greater good. Some are also willing to give up part of their compensation to contribute to a social cause they share. Being able to attract a motivated workforce is particularly important for the public sector, where performance is usually more difficult to measure, but this goal remains elusive. Paying people more or underlining the career opportunities (as opposed to the social aspects) associated with public sector jobs is instrumental in attracting a more productive workforce, while a proper selection process may mitigate the negative impact on intrinsic motivation.
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  • Skill-based immigration, economic integration, and economic performance Updated

    Benefiting from highly skilled immigrants requires a complementary mix of immigrant selection and economic integration policies

    There is increasing global competition for high-skilled immigrants, as countries intensify efforts to attract a larger share of the world's talent pool. In this environment, high-skill immigrants are becoming increasingly selective in their choices between alternative destinations. Studies for major immigrant-receiving countries that provide evidence on the comparative economic performance of immigrant classes (skill-, kinship-, and humanitarian-based) show that skill-based immigrants perform better in the labor market. However, there are serious challenges to their economic integration, which highlights a need for complementary immigration and integration policies.
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  • The labor market in Norway, 2000–2018 Updated

    Negative consequences of falling oil prices were offset by real wage flexibility, reduced immigration, and labor reallocation

    Øivind A. Nilsen, June 2020
    Norway has a rather high labor force participation rate and a very low unemployment rate. Part of the reason for this fortunate situation is the so-called “tripartism”: a broad agreement among unions, employers, and government to maintain a high level of coordination in wage bargaining. This has led to downward real wage flexibility, which has lessened the effects of negative shocks to the economy. Reduced net immigration, especially from neighboring countries, also mitigated the negative effects of the oil price drop in 2014. A potential drawback of tripartism is the difficulty of reducing employee absences and disability.
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  • What is the nature and extent of student–university mismatch?

    Students do worse if their abilities fail to match the requirements of the institutions where they matriculate

    A growing body of research has begun to examine the match between student ability and university quality. Initial research focused on overmatch—where students are lower attaining than their college peers. However, more recently, attention has turned to undermatch, where students attend institutions with lower attaining peers. Both have been shown to matter for student outcomes; while in theory overmatch could be desirable, there is evidence that overmatched students are less likely to graduate college. Undermatched students, meanwhile, have been shown to experience lower graduate earnings.
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