On May 20, the World Bank held its "Jobs and Shared Prosperity Day" [view program and pictures], organized by the Jobs Knowledge Platform (JKP) to which IZA contributes. The Bank-wide event brought together development practitioners and researchers working across different approaches, sectors and disciplines to exchange insights, and learn from one another. The day consisted of a high-level debate on jobs and shared prosperity, as well as parallel sessions on crucial issues such as youth employment, jobs and the crisis, enterprise dynamics, jobs and rights, skills, job quality, and gender.
During an awards ceremony and lunch, IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann honored the winners of the JKP's "Experience from the Field" (EFF) Contest. EFF showcases projects aimed at creating jobs and improving employment opportunities. The contest entries feed into a searchable database, encouraging an active exchange of ideas. The $5,000 award funded by IZA is being granted in three categories: "Most Promising Approach," "Most Recommended (Most Popular) Project," and "Best Addresses Political Economy and Implementation Challenges." The picture shows Zimmermann and Jaime Saavedra (Acting Vice President, PREM, World Bank) with the winners of the first category.
A team of researchers including among others Werner Eichhorst and Michael J. Kendzia (IZA) and Maarten Gerard (IDEA Consult) presented an expert study on "Combining the entry of young people in the labor market with the retention of older workers" to the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on May 6. The session in the European Parliament in Brussels was led by committee chairwoman Pervenche Berès, MEP (see photo).
The study provides an overview of the employment situation of young and old workers in the EU Member States, setting out the most recent developments during the crisis and dealing with policies implemented to promote the employment of both groups. The evidence collected shows that there is no competition between young and older workers on the labor market. During the presentation of the study the researchers stressed that EU policy-makers should aim at supporting structural or general policies to enhance the functioning of EU labor markets.
During this year's annual meeting of the Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) in Boston, IZA Research Fellow Daniel S. Hamermesh (University of Texas at Austin and Royal Holloway University of London) received the prestigious Mincer Award, which honors a lifetime of contributions to the field of labor economics.
Daniel Hamermesh has been closely affiliated with IZA since its foundation in 1998 and has contributed a great deal to the institute's success. He coordinated IZA's research activities on The Future of Labor as Program Director for a decade before serving as Director of Research for two years. He has organized numerous conferences and workshops, above all the highly successful IZA/SOLE Transatlantic Meetings. Over the past years he has continued to spend extended periods at IZA as a Visiting Research Fellow.
Hamermesh specializes in labor demand, social programs, academic labor markets and unusual applications in everyday life. Most recently he has focused his research on the economic benefits of beauty. His book "Beauty Pays" demonstrates how society favors the beautiful – and how better-looking people experience higher salaries and benefits in all aspects of life. Hamermesh teaches theory in a way that makes economics useful in everyday life. He applies economic principles to various topics in his contribution to the Freakonomics blog and the IZA Newsroom - see his recent post on minimum wages.
A French-German team of prominent economists including IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann and IZA Fellows Pierre Cahuc (Ecole Polytechnique) and Stéphane Carcillo (University of Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne) has presented an expert report to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault which outlines ways to fight the alarmingly high rate of youth unemployment in the EU's second-largest country. The recommendations include the implementation of effective activation measures and a dual system of vocational training as is successfully practiced in Germany.
In France, currently about 1.9 million young people under the age of 30 are not in employment, education or training. This corresponds to an average rate of 17 percent over the past decade. Within the EU, only the crisis countries of Southern Europe (Italy, Spain and Greece) fare worse in terms of youth unemployment. The future prospects of French youth are increasingly dire: Half of the unemployed no longer even actively search for a job, according to the report. "This is a socially explosive situation. Politicians must act now to avert a lost generation," warns Zimmermann.
Director of Research Corrado Giulietti was invited to speak at the conference "Immigration – a source of wealth and duties for Europe", an event co-organized in Brussels on March 15 by the European Economic and Social Committee, the Council of Europe, and the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council.
The conference featured two thematic sessions on the role of immigration for the European economy and on issues related to immigration and human rights, as well as an expert panel discussing risks and opportunities of immigration. In the panel discussion, Giulietti presented the empirical results from recent IZA projects, including the Study on Active Inclusion of Migrants (available as IZA Research Report No. 43). He outlined two key findings: first, migrants in general exhibit lower rates of welfare receipt than natives, and second, there is no evidence that unemployment benefit spending influences immigration flows to the EU. Giulietti also stressed the need to understand how immigration can alleviate key problems of the European labor market, such as growing skill shortages and demographic change.
A decade ago the German labor market was regarded as a sick patient. Today it is performing exceptionally well and has been remarkably resilient to the financial and euro crisis. This must be attributed at least in part to the courageous "Agenda 2010" labor market reforms, which were introduced – against massive resistance – in March 2003. From the very beginning, IZA has constructively supported and scientifically evaluated this reform process. Today, ten years later, it has become obvious that the "Agenda 2010" project has left a lasting positive mark on the German labor market.
A number of studies by IZA experts show that these measures have in many areas improved the functioning of the German employment system and the effectiveness of policy programs. As a result, the employment rate has risen substantially since the mid-2000s, particularly with many new jobs created in the service sector. This would not have been possible without a more flexible labor market and a consistent activation of the unemployed.
IZA has contributed its expertise in various ways: Beyond publicly supporting the reform process and providing policy advice, IZA researchers have extensively studied the effectiveness of several reform components. In light of the predominantly positive results, IZA experts are highly critical of recent plans by policymakers to roll back some of the reforms.
On February 27, 2013, IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann signed a Memorandum of Understanding about a collaboration between IZA and Temple University in research and education together with the Chairman of the Economics Department at Temple University, IZA Fellow Michael L. Bognanno, and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, Teresa Scott Soufas. The agreement includes the regular exchange of researchers and Ph.D. students.
On February 18, 2013, the Federal Minister of the Interior presented the recent number of immigrants to Germany under the EU Blue Card system and praised the initiative as successful. IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann, in contrast, says the Blue Card falls short of the mark. Zimmermann: "I don't share the federal government’s euphoria about a few thousand Blue Card holders. While the numbers may seem surprisingly high at first glance, in fact more than two-thirds of these immigrants were already in the country. And since the Blue Card modified and replaced previous regulations, immigrants who came under the old rules would also have to be discounted. Ultimately, what remains of the group of about 4,000 Blue Card holders is no more than 1,000 newly attracted skilled workers. This does not at all solve the demographic problem that Germany's workforce will shrink by more than six million by 2030. The Blue Card also falls short because it does not seem to have created incentives for greater intra-European labor mobility. Other countries, including European neighbors, have already implemented clear criteria for skilled labor immigration, such as qualifications, job experience, language skills and age. A transparent points system, paired with attractive integration measures, would be the right choice for Germany as well."
New Research Fellows and Affiliates of the past three months