January 28, 2023Analysis
Gender and the Great Resignation
Dynamics of gender and class in the Covid-era labor market
The much anticipated “return to normal” after the Covid-19 pandemic has been anything but. In contrast to the aftermath of previous economic crises, workers have not rushed back to work. Each month over a period of nine months in 2021,…
November 2, 2022Interviews
An interview with Karen Levy on surveillance and automation in the trucking industry
The supply and demand whiplashes of the Covid-19 pandemic snarled global supply chains, shaking up labor markets and well-established migration patterns. In the process, existing cracks in logistics and infrastructure systems widened, making these systems newly visible. In the US…
October 12, 2022Interviews
Who Pays for Inflation?
A conversation on monetary policy, labor, and the definition of inflation
The inflation of the past year has reshaped the political economic landscape in the United States and around the globe. While the IMF and World Bank echo UN calls about the recession risk of globally-synchronized rate hikes, the debate over…
August 6, 2022Sources
The past few months have seen record-breaking heat waves across the globe. In India, a deadly heat wave in May renewed questions around the nation's health, safety, and economy.
July 30, 2022Sources
This week, Russia’s state-run energy company Gazprom drastically cut gas supplies— delivered via the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 1 pipeline—to Europe. The move amplified longstanding concerns around European dependence on Russian energy.
July 16, 2022Analysis
NAFTA, electric vehicles, and the evolution of Mexico's auto industry
In December 2021, President Joe Biden announced a proposed consumer tax incentive for electric vehicles (EV) made in the US by unionized autoworkers. The tax incentive aims at tackling climate change while also strengthening unionized jobs. It promises to support…
July 9, 2022Analysis
A New Labor Regime
The BJP's new labor reforms, the construction industry, and the mounting challenges for India’s trade unions
Since coming to power in 2014, India’s right-wing government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has introduced sweeping reforms aimed at strengthening the union government at the expense of the states, and catering to large corporations over smaller establishments and…
July 2, 2022Sources
Among the most notable innovations in trade union strategy since the late 20th century has been the rise of shareholder activism. The approach leverages trillions of dollars in trade union pension funds to navigate the financial sector on behalf of…
June 11, 2022Sources
This week, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost clean energy production, including solar technology, heat pumps, insulation, green hydrogen, and transformers. In recent years, the DPA has strayed from its wartime connotations, from coordinating Covid-19 responses, and more…
June 10, 2022Analysis
Digital platforms, infrastructure, and labor in Brazil and China
In Spring 2018, two significant labor disputes broke out at opposite ends of the earth. The first, in Brazil, was a two-week-long mass strike of 400,000 truckers in response to successive price increases unleashed by the state oil company, Petrobras,…
May 21, 2022Sources
This week, labor markets across the US and Europe exhibited seemingly inconsistent trends: while unemployment is at historic lows, claims for unemployment benefits are on the rise, and despite rising overall incomes, many workers face increased financial stress.
May 14, 2022Sources
News around the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade in the United States has brought renewed attention to abortion rights movements in other parts of the globe, and in particular, Latin America. After decades of court cases, legislative efforts, and…
May 7, 2022Sources
Since 2018, the Turkish lira has suffered repeated devaluation shocks, increasing rates of loan default and unemployment. These have only been compounded by the pandemic and the Russian invasian of Ukraine—this week, inflation rates in Turkey have skyrocketed to nearly…
April 23, 2022Sources
A top economic advisor in the Dominican Republic recently estimated that the loss of Russian and Ukranian visitors would cost the country $400 million in tourism revenue. With 9.5 percent of GDP traced back to tourism reciepts, the DR is…
April 9, 2022Sources
Last week, the independent Amazon Labor Union won a NLRB election at a Staten Island warehouse, with around 55 percent of workers voting to join the union. Heralded as a watershed for new organizing opportunities for low-wage, service sector, and…
April 2, 2022Sources
This week, approximately 50 million workers in India engaged in a national strike against what they see as the “anti-people policies” of Narendra Modi's government. The public banking sector experienced one of the largest disruptions, with employees protesting government proposals for privatization.
February 15, 2022Sources
The pandemic induced wave of government spending has prompted renewed debates on the magnitude and likelihood of significant fiscal multipliers—the effect of fiscal spending on output—in the coming years.
January 29, 2022Sources
Concerns over inflation have led to an uptick in research and policy debate over the specific sectoral drivers of price increases—and tools for their management. In a new article in Health Affairs, ROBERT BERENSON and ROBERT MURRAY review the literature…
January 15, 2022Sources
This week, the Indian megaconglomerate Adani Group and South Korean steel company POSCO announced plans to build a "green" integrated steel mill in Gujurat, India. The mill marks the latest in the Adani Group's efforts to move into the green industrial sector…
December 23, 2021Interviews
An interview with Kim Voss on the American labor movement, from the Knights of Labor to “Striketober.”
The uptick in organized and unorganized labor militancy registered throughout the pandemic, and in particular in strike and unionization campaigns in recent months, comes at a relative nadir for the US labor movement. The work of Kim Voss, Professor of…
December 4, 2021Sources
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has reached its highest rate in 15 years, with satellite footage recording 5,110 square miles of deforested land. Despite coordinated threats of divestment, institutional investors have thus far failed to act.
November 20, 2021Sources
In October, over 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike, 1,400 Kellogg's workers followed suit, and observers anticipated thousands more IATSE members and Kaiser Permanente workers to walk out. (After voting down two contracts, workers at Deere reached an agreement last week ending…
November 4, 2021Analysis
The Federation of German Industries’ agenda in the formation of the new German federal government
The new German government will be called upon, at a highly critical time for the global and European economy, to draw up a new economic and political strategy not only for Germany but also for the EU/Eurozone. The outcome will…
October 19, 2021Analysis
Gas and Labor
The UK‘s petrol shortage is also a labor shortage driven by worsening conditions of work
The United Kingdom is in the midst of a protracted crisis in the supply of petrol. In the face of a plummeting sterling and severe disruptions to essential public services, military tanker drivers have been deployed to transport fuel to…
September 25, 2021Sources
The possible collapse of Evergrande, China's second largest property developer, has reverberated through global financial markets. With over $300 billion in outstanding debt, 3.8 million jobs on the line, and investments across consumer industries, the scale of the impact could…
August 28, 2021Sources
Earlier this year, global carbon markets were valued at a record breaking $277 billion. The number contrasts strikingly with this summer's wave of devastating fires, many of which proliferated precisely in protected forests designed to offset carbon emissions from other…
August 14, 2021Sources
75 percent of US firms currently make use of non-disclosure agreements. Originally developed to protect trade secrets, today's agreements have expanded to include information on salaries, skills, client lists, and employment practices.
August 11, 2021Analysis
Employer claims of unavailable labor are rooted in an unwillingness to raise wages and the long-term decline of the nation’s system of training and allocating labor
As the American economy reopened in the first half of 2021, reports of a “labor shortage” spread throughout US industries. But there was one sector where employer panic about hiring was old news: the massive and decentralized US construction industry.
July 24, 2021Sources
Structures of unfree labor have always been at the edge of current and historical discourse on labor, mobility and caste in South Asia. This has been in focus during the COVID-led migrant crisis in India, where around 11.4 million migrant…
July 2, 2021Analysis
Repressing Labor, Empowering China
Cheap money will boost inequality and geopolitical tension but not inflation
Though the lockdown in 2020 threw many workers out of work, the big fiscal stimulus, fueled by government debt and an unprecedentedly large monetary expansion, offered stimulus checks and elevated unemployment benefits to millions of Americans.
May 29, 2021Sources
Though the US economy remains about 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels, employers and commentators have begun to express fears over a reduction in the labor supply, prompting debates over the possible causes of this shortage.
May 15, 2021Sources
Use of the most recent government stimulus varied by income, with richer households saving the money and poorer ones using it to pay off debt.
March 13, 2021Sources
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought attention to the underfunding of US public health infrastructure over the last several decades. Alongside a fragmented system, a gap has emerged between public health and clinical care, with consequences for the public.
March 6, 2021Sources
Deindustrialization is a key orienting point for research in political economy. But around the world, factory production remains significant, with employment in industry constituting between one-fifth and one-third of total employment in large economies.
February 5, 2021Analysis
The Italian Left After Keynesianism
From stagflation to the transformation of Italian left parties.
In 1977, Eric Hobsbawm published a book of interviews with Giorgio Napolitano, a leading figure in the Italian Communist Party (PCI)’s gradualist wing, the miglioristi. Hobsbawm proclaimed himself a “spiritual member” of the PCI and intended this book to depict…
January 22, 2021Analysis
Inflation, Specific and General
The many causes and effects of inflation.
Concerns over a generalized “inflation” loom in the recovery. Yet the prices that most heavily factor into the cost of living for US workers—housing, health, and education—have already been rising for decades. The question we should be asking is whether…
July 22, 2020Analysis
Laws of the Land
Property rights and extraction in the mineral frontier
“The Mining Law of 1872,” reported California Democrat Alan Lowenthal in May 2019, "is one of the most obsolete laws still on the books.”
June 24, 2020Sources
LABOR In her 2007 book, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt, sociologist CHING KWAN LEE paints an intricate portrait of the two segments of the Chinese working class that have most acutely experienced the country's changing…
May 28, 2020Analysis
Digital Scab, Digital Snitch
On automation and worker surveillance
Before Covid-19 hit, we'd become used to reports about Amazon's robotics innovations and the impending large-scale automation of warehouse jobs. But recent strikes and protests by Amazon's very human workers have exposed how far we are from robotic warehouses.
April 3, 2020Analysis
Crisis and Recovery
The underlying problems in the US economy
Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report hardly registers the cataclysm in the US job market. The sharp 0.9 percent uptick in unemployment—itself newsworthy—only grasps the very beginnings of the shutdown of the American economy.
March 25, 2020Sources
This week, reports swirled regarding President Trump's invocation of the Defense Production Act—a 1950 law passed to manage production in the context of the Korean War—to meet the coming demand of crucial medical supplies to treat people with COVID-19. Much…
March 9, 2020Sources
The correlation between health, income, and wealth is widely recognized in contemporary research and policy circles. This broadly social understanding of public health outcomes has its origins in a theoretical tradition dating back to the 1970s and 80s, in which…
January 9, 2020Phenomenal Works
Phenomenal Works: Alice Evans
Four books and papers on the 'despondency trap'
Alice Evans is a Lecturer in the Social Science of International Development at King's College London, and a Faculty Associate at Harvard's Kennedy School. She is writing a book on “The Great Gender Divergence”, which explores why European countries rapidly…
December 16, 2019Sources
The recent boom in identifying and measuring monopsony in labor markets has brought the question of employers' wage-setting power to the fore of various academic and policy debates. (For an overview, see our blog post by Owen Davis from earlier…
November 28, 2019Phenomenal Works
Phenomenal Works: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez
On unions, advocacy, and influence
Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is a political scientist who studies the mechanisms of influence. Focusing on the strategies of organized interests, including both business and labor, Hertel-Fernandez's helps illuminate crucial and poorly understood levers of American political economy.
October 21, 2019Sources
Of the many justifications for introducing a universal basic income, automation is among the most popular. Over the past years, a slew of reports and endless media coverage has raised the specter of mass "technological unemployment"—a possible future that has…
October 7, 2019Sources
Breathless media coverage of machine learning tools and their applications often obscures the processes that allow them to function. Time and again, services billed or understood by users as automatic are revealed to rely on undervalued, deskilled human labor.
August 19, 2019Sources
The role of labor (with some notable exceptions) has been relatively marginal in debates over how to decarbonize the economy. But given the growing number of clean energy jobs (and some recent labor news), it is reasonable to predict that…
August 12, 2019Sources
The emergence of companies like Uber and Taskrabbit has prompted commentators across legal, economic, and policy research spheres to pronounce the beginning of a new era of work, marked by the prevalence of technologically mediated casual work arrangements.
July 29, 2019Sources
Many recent policy proposals are variations on European programs implemented throughout the twentieth century. Despite their marked diversity, European welfare states share a foundation of social protections largely responsible for their lower rates of inequality. Theories on the development of…
April 20, 2019Sources
April 13, 2019Sources
Current UBI discussions emerged out of concerns over the role of human beings in a machine-dominated labor market. In 2013, a paper by Oxford University professors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne claimed that 47% of US jobs were at…
August 25, 2018Sources
SPATIAL PARAMETERS On place-based and adaptable public policy A recent report published by BROOKINGS INSTITUTE discusses the potential effectiveness of place-based policies for strengthening the economies of depressed areas. Co-authored by Harvard’s BENJAMIN AUSTIN, EDWARD GLAESER, and LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS,…
August 18, 2018Sources
COMPENSATION TREATMENT In Iran, cash transfers don't reduce labor supply A new study examines the effects of Iran's changeover from energy subsidies to cash transfers. From the abstract, by DJAVAD SALEHI-ISFAHANI and MOHAMMED H. MOSTAFAVI-DEHZOOEI of the ECONOMIC RESEARCH FORUM:…
July 7, 2018Sources
EVIDENCE PUZZLES The history and politics of RCTs ⤷ Guaranteed Income In a 2016 working paper, JUDITH GUERON recounts and evaluates the history of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the US, through her own experience in the development of welfare experiments…
June 30, 2018Sources
CLIMATE PREDICTION MARKET How to link a carbon tax to climate forecasting A 2011 paper by SHI-LING HSU suggests a way of using a carbon tax to generate more accurate predictions of future climate conditions: “The market for tradable permits…
May 12, 2018Sources
LABOR-LEISURE TRADE-OFF A new paper on the labor effects of cash transfers SARAH BAIRD, DAVID MCKENZIE, and BERK OZLER of the WORLD BANK review a variety of cash transfer studies, both governmental and non-governmental, in low- and middle-income countries. Cash…
March 17, 2018Sources
STATE SCHOOL RECRUITMENT | JOB GUARANTEE | BLOCKCHAIN DEPENDENCE EXTERIOR State universities' reliance on out-of-state enrollment Research on enrollment patterns finds that shrinking state funds leads admissions departments to look for out-of-state tuition financing. "Fixed effects panel models revealed a…
January 27, 2018Sources
DISCONTINUOUS ADVANCE A flurry of articles in December and January assess the state of artificial intelligence From Erik Brynjolfsson et al, optimism about productivity growth: “Economic value lags technological advances. “To be clear, we are optimistic about the ultimate productivity…