Low unemployment and high employment, but also
low, volatile pay and high inequality characterize the Russian labor
Being the largest economy in the Eurasian
region, Russia's labor market affects economic performance and well-being in
several former Soviet countries. Over the period 2000–2017, the Russian
labor market survived several deep crises and underwent substantial
structural changes. Major shocks were absorbed largely via wage adjustments,
while aggregate employment and unemployment showed little sensitivity.
Workers have paid the price for this rather stable employment situation in
the form of volatile wages and a high risk of low pay.
Does a changing public sector workforce in the
MENA region provide an opportunity for efficient restructuring?
Public sector hiring has been an essential
component of the social bargains that have maintained political stability in
the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As these bargains eroded, public
sector workforces contracted in relative terms owing to a partial freeze on
hiring and the promise of lifetime job security for incumbent workers. This
had profound effects on the age composition of the workforce. The upcoming
retirement of many workers provides an opportunity to restructure public
sector hiring to emphasize meritocratic recruitment processes and
performance-based compensation systems.
Summary measures of inequality differ from one
another and give different pictures of the evolution of economic inequality
Economists use various metrics for measuring
income inequality. Here, the most commonly used measures—the Lorenz curve,
the Gini coefficient, decile ratios, the Palma ratio, and the Theil
index—are discussed in relation to their benefits and limitations. Equally
important is the choice of what to measure: pre-tax and after-tax income,
consumption, and wealth are useful indicators; and different sources of
income such as wages, capital gains, taxes, and benefits can be examined.
Understanding the dimensions of economic inequality is a key first step
toward choosing the right policies to address it.
Sexual orientation seems to affect job access
and satisfaction, earning prospects, and interaction with colleagues
Studies from countries with laws against
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation suggest that gay and
lesbian employees report more incidents of harassment and are more likely to
report experiencing unfair treatment in the labor market than are
heterosexual employees. Both gay men and lesbians tend to be less satisfied
with their jobs than their heterosexual counterparts. Gay men are found to
earn less than comparably skilled and experienced heterosexual men. For
lesbians, the patterns are ambiguous: in some countries they have been found
to earn less than their heterosexual counterparts, while in others they earn
the same or more.
Measuring work hours correctly is important,
but different surveys can tell different stories
Work hours are key components in estimating
productivity growth and hourly wages as well as being a useful cyclical
indicator in their own right, so measuring them correctly is important. The
US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data on work hours in several
surveys and publishes four widely used series that measure average weekly
hours. The series tell different stories about average weekly hours and
trends in those hours but qualitatively similar stories about the cyclical
behavior of work hours. The research summarized here explains the
differences in levels, but only some of the differences in trends.
Workers and policymakers may fear that
privatization leads to job losses and wage cuts, but what’s the empirical
Conventional wisdom and prevailing economic
theory hold that the new owners of a privatized firm will cut jobs and
wages. But this ignores the possibility that new owners will expand the
firm’s scale, with potentially positive effects on employment, wages, and
productivity. Evidence generally shows these forces to be offsetting,
usually resulting in small employment and earnings effects and sometimes in
large, positive effects on productivity and scale. Foreign ownership usually
has positive effects, and the effects of domestic privatization tend to be
larger in countries with a more competitive business environment.
Incentivized measures are considered to be the
gold standard in measuring individuals’ risk preferences, but is that
Risk aversion is an important factor in many
settings, including individual decisions about investment or occupational
choice, and government choices about policies affecting environmental,
industrial, or health risks. Risk preferences are measured using surveys or
incentivized games with real consequences. Reviewing the different
approaches to measuring individual risk aversion shows that the best
approach will depend on the question being asked and the study's target
population. In particular, economists’ gold standard of incentivized games
may not be superior to surveys in all settings.
Business ownership is higher among immigrants,
but promoting self-employment is unlikely to improve outcomes for the less
Immigrants are widely perceived to be highly
entrepreneurial, contributing to economic growth and innovation, and
self-employment is often viewed as a means of enhancing labor market
integration and success among immigrants. Accordingly, many countries have
established special visas and entry requirements to attract immigrant
entrepreneurs. Research supports some of these stances, but expectations may
be too high. There is no strong evidence that self-employment is an
effective tool of upward economic mobility among low-skilled immigrants.
More broadly prioritizing high-skilled immigrants may prove to be more
successful than focusing on entrepreneurship.
Non-compliance with labor legislation is
widespread and this has critical implications for understanding labor
markets in developing countries
Compliance with minimum wage laws and non-wage
conditions of employment often depends on labor market specific factors. In
developing countries, many workers still earn less than the legal minimum
and lack access to mandated non-wage benefits. Enforcement has not kept up
with regulation growth and compliance has not been measured from a
multidimensional perspective. Such an approach would help to understand the
impact of institutional variables and country-specific approaches on the
level of labor law violation. The difference between de facto and de jure
regulation remains particularly pertinent in countries where compliance is
There is a positive association between study
abroad and graduates’ job prospects, though it is unclear if the link is
In recent decades, the number of university
students worldwide who have received some part of their education abroad has
been rising rapidly. Despite the popularity of international student
exchange programs, however, debate continues over what students actually
gain from this experience. A major advantage claimed for study abroad
programs is that they can enhance employability by providing graduates with
the skills and experience employers look for. These programs are also
expected to increase the probability that graduates will work abroad, and so
may especially benefit students willing to pursue an international career.
However, most of the evidence is qualitative and based on small samples.