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Why Cash Transfer Programs Can Both Stimulate and Slow Down Job Finding

Abstract

This article analyzes the behavioral effects of cash transfer programs when jobless people need to have access to a minimum consumption level. Our model reconciles recent evidence about negligible or favorable effects of cash transfers on job-finding rates and the more standard view of negative effects. When unemployment compensation, if any, is low enough, we argue that cash transfer programs can raise the hiring probability. Our framework is flexible enough to generate the standard conclusion as well. Looking specifically at unemployment compensation, its optimal level is generally higher than when a lower bound on consumption is ignored.

Open access
Double Jeopardy: How Refugees Fare in One European Labor Market

Abstract

This paper examines the labor market trajectories of refugees who arrived in Belgium between 1999 and 2009. Belgium offers a relatively easy formal labor market access to refugees and other types of migrants but they face many other barriers in this strongly regulated and institutionalized labor market. Based on a longitudinal dataset that links respondents’ information from the Belgian Labor Force Survey with comprehensive social security data on their work histories, we estimate discrete-time hazard models to analyze refugees’ entry into and exit out of the first employment spell, contrasting their outcomes with family and labor migrants of the same arrival cohort. The analysis shows that refugees take significantly longer to enter their first employment spell as compared with other migrant groups. They also run a greater risk of exiting out of their first employment spell (back) into social assistance and into unemployment. The low employment rates of refugees are thus not only due to a slow integration process upon arrival, but also reflect a disproportional risk of exiting the labor market after a period in work. Our findings indicate that helping refugees into a first job is not sufficient to ensure labor market participation in the long run, because these jobs may be short-lived. Instead, our results provide clear arguments in favor of policies that support sustainable labor market integration.

Open access
Sympathy for the Devil? Exploring Flexicurity Win–Win Promises

Abstract

Flexicurity is the combination of more flexibility for employers and more security for workers. It is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that lacks a well-developed monitoring framework or a statistically consistent grouping of the indicators. First, this paper proposes a conceptual framework by building upon the Wilthagen and Tros (2004) flexicurity matrix and the Danish Golden Triangle. It constructs flexicurity “drivers” by pooling together variables that are conceptually related to each other and a specific type of flexibility or security. Then, it obtains statistically consistent aggregate measures for each driver and selects three drivers that represent the three corners of the Danish “golden triangle”: external numerical flexibility, employment security, and income security. It conducts an empirical analysis on the evolution of the selected flexicurity drivers over time and across European Union (EU) countries and on the relationship between selected flexicurity drivers and social outcomes from the Social Scoreboard of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It finds evidence of convergence on external numerical flexibility and polarization on employment and income security across the EU. It finds that higher flexibility at the onset of the crisis contributed to a reduction in the unemployment rates after the crisis, while a more generous welfare system contributed to reducing poverty. Employment security, however, appears to be linked to the presence of higher levels of income inequality after the crisis.

Open access
Frontal assault versus incremental change: A comparison of collective bargaining in Portugal and the Netherlands

Abstract

Collective bargaining has come under renewed scrutiny, especially in Southern European countries, which rely predominantly on sectoral bargaining supported by administrative extensions of collective agreements. Following the global financial crisis, some of these countries have implemented substantial reforms in the context of adjustment programmes, seen by some as a ‘frontal assault’ on collective bargaining. This paper compares the recent top-down reforms in Portugal with the more gradual evolution of the system in the Netherlands. While the Dutch bargaining system shares many of the key features that characterise the Portuguese system, it has shown a much greater ability to adjust to new challenges through concerted social dialogue. This paper shows that the recent reforms in Portugal have brought the system more in line with Dutch practices, including in relation to the degree of flexibility in sectoral collective agreements at the worker and firm levels, the criteria for administrative extensions, and the application of retro- and ultra-activity. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the top-down approach taken in Portugal will change bargaining practices, and importantly, the quality of industrial relations.

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The Impact of Parental Leave Policy on Child-Rearing and Employment Behavior: The Case of Germany

Abstract

Parental leave and child care are important instruments of family policies to improve work–family balance. This paper studies the impact of the substantial change in Germany’s parental leave system on maternal employment. The aim of the reform was to decrease birth-related maternal employment breaks by providing more generous parental benefits for a shorter period of time. Using the German Socio-Economic Panel data for 2002–2015, I exploited quasi-experimental variation in the benefits to estimate the impact of the reform. I incorporated the mother’s decision to substitute her care time with the public child care. To control for the availability of child care, I used spatial and temporal variation in the availability of childcare slots. Overall, I did not find significant changes in maternal employment during the first three years of motherhood after the reform implementation. Only for high-income mothers, the reform produced a significant decrease in the employment participation during the first year of leave and an increase in employment probability after the benefits expired. The empirical findings suggest that the restriction in the childcare availability became an important constraint for the employment effect of the reform.

Open access
The Marginal Benefit of an Active Labor Market Program Relative to a Public Works Program: Evidence from Papua New Guinea

Abstract

Policymakers typically try to address youth unemployment in developing countries through either active labor market programs (ALMPs) or labor-intensive public works programs (LIPWs). We examine whether there is any additional benefit for unemployed youth from participating in a comprehensive ALMP compared to a LIPW. We exploit an unanticipated intervention in the largest employment program in Papua New Guinea, which resulted in one intake of the program completing a LIPW and missing out on a comprehensive ALMP. We conduct a difference-in-difference analysis between participants in the intake that missed out on the ALMP component of the program and participants in the intakes immediately before and after. In contrast to most impact evaluations of ALMPs, we show youth that completed the comprehensive ALMP were around twice as likely to be employed in the formal sector 9–12 months after the program compared to similar youth in the intake that only completed a LIWP. This effect was entirely driven by 20% of youth who participated in the ALMP staying with the employer they were placed with following the end of the program. Surveys of these employers illustrate that they use the ALMP as a low-cost, low-risk, and relatively low-effort way of hiring new employees.

Open access
Unemployment Impact of Product and Labor Market Regulation: Evidence from European Countries

Abstract

This paper provides robust estimates of the impact of both product and labor market regulations on unemployment using data from 24 European countries over the period 1998–2013. Controlling for country fixed effects, endogeneity, and a large set of covariates, results show that product market deregulation overall reduces the unemployment rate. This finding is robust across all specifications and in line with theoretical predictions. However, not all types of reforms have the same effect: deregulation of state controls and in particular involvement in business operations tend to push up the unemployment rate. Labor market deregulation, proxied by the employment protection legislation index, is detrimental to unemployment in the short run, while a positive impact (i.e., a reduction in the unemployment rate) occurs only in the long run. Analysis by sub-indicators shows that reducing protection against collective dismissals helps in reducing the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate equation is also estimated for different categories of workers. Although men and women are equally affected by product and labor market deregulations, workers distinguished by age and educational attainment are affected differently. In terms of employment protection, young workers are almost twice as strongly affected as older workers. Regarding product market deregulation, highly educated individuals are less impacted than low- and middle-educated workers.

Open access
Survey vs Scraped Data: Comparing Time Series Properties of Web and Survey Vacancy Data

Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between a vacancy population obtained from web crawling and vacancies in the economy inferred by a National Statistics Office (NSO) using a traditional method. We compare the time series properties of samples obtained between 2007 and 2014 by Statistics Netherlands and by a web scraping company. We find that the web and NSO vacancy data present similar time series properties, suggesting that both time series are generated by the same underlying phenomenon: the real number of new vacancies in the economy. We conclude that, in our case study, web-sourced data are able to capture aggregate economic activity in the labor market.

Open access
Labor Migration in Indonesia and the Health of Children Left Behind

Abstract

Economic research on labor migration in the developing world has traditionally focused on the role played by the remittances of overseas migrant labor in the sending country’s economy. Recently, due in no small part to the availability of rich microdata, more attention has been paid to the effects of migration on the lives of family members left behind. This paper examines how the temporary migration of parents for work affects the health outcomes of children left behind using the longitudinal data obtained from the Indonesia Family Life Survey. The anthropometric measure of the child health used, height-for-age, serves as a proxy for stunting. The evidence suggests that whether parental migration is beneficial or deleterious to the child health depends on which parent moved. In particular, migration of the mother has an adverse effect on the child’s height-for-age, reducing height-for-age Z-score by 0.5 standard deviations. This effect is not seen on the migration of the father.

Open access
Diaspora Externalities

Abstract

This review article surveys the recent economic literature on diaspora networks, globalization, and development. Diasporas are shown to contribute to the economic and cultural integration of source (i.e., developing) countries into the global economy. I first review the effect of diaspora networks on core globalization outcomes such as trade, foreign investments, and the diffusion of knowledge and technology across borders. I then turn to the cultural and political sway of the diaspora, investigating the impact of emigration on the formation of political attitudes, fertility behavior, and other aspects of culture in the home country.

Open access