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October 19, 2021

Analysis

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…

August 14, 2021

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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, 2021

Analysis

Built Trades

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, 2021

Sources

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, 2021

Analysis

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.

February 5, 2021

Analysis

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, 2021

Analysis

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…

January 9, 2021

Sources

The deep divisions in American political and social life have long been thought to explain the unique weakness of America’s welfare infrastructure, and the absence of an integrated system of universal benefits. But on their own, demographic divisions need not…

June 24, 2020

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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, 2020

Analysis

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.

March 25, 2020

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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, 2020

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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, 2020

Phenomenal 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, 2019

Sources

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, 2019

Phenomenal 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, 2019

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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, 2019

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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, 2019

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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, 2019

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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, 2019

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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, 2019

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April 13, 2019

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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, 2018

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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, 2018

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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, 2018

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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, 2018

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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, 2018

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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, 2018

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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, 2018

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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…