Richard W. Evans (Brigham Young University), Yingyao Hu (Johns Hopkins University) and Zhong Zhao (Renmin University of China and IZA) received the 6th Kuznets Prize for their paper "The fertility effect of catastrophe: US hurricane births", which was selected as the best published article in the Journal of Population Economics during the period 2010-2012. The Prize was awarded by the journal's Editor-in-Chief, IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann, during the ESPE 2013 conference in Aarhus, Denmark. The award-winning paper originally appeared as IZA DP No. 2975.
Stefano Scarpetta, IZA Program Director for Employment and Development, has been appointed as the new OECD Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, the highest ranked position for a labor economist at the OECD. He succeeds IZA Research Fellow John P. Martin who is retiring.
IZA maintains close ties with the OECD, which have led to a number joint research projects and policy-oriented events including the IZA/OECD Employment Seminar and, most recently, the IZA/OECD/World Bank Conference on Safety Nets and Benefit Dependence. "I very much look forward to continuing the close and effective collaboration between my department and IZA and hopefully foster it even further," said Scarpetta. He will also be responsible for coordinating the OECD's work on health issues and international migration.
Against the backdrop of the negotiations for a transatlantic trade agreement, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Philip D. Murphy, was invited to give a speech on the future of transatlantic cooperation at the IZA Policy Fellow Meeting in Berlin on May 28, 2013.
Murphy stressed that the U.S. and Europe are facing the same complex challenges such as climate change, energy, the Euro, budget deficits or demographic issues. Closer economic cooperation must also tackle many of these shared problems. Murphy underlined the importance of immediate, short-term actions to solve some of the most pressing issues. But he also pointed out that times of crises have always been followed by times of prosperity, and it is equally important to stick by a long-term agenda not based on a trend of the moment. Quoting President Obama's State of the Union address, the Ambassador said, "Today's world presents not just dangers, not just threats, it presents opportunities."
For the U.S., Murphy sees new opportunities in manufacturing, with potential benefits from copying the German system of vocational training and bringing together science and industry to boost innovation. He also stated out that the prospect of U.S. energy independence due to shale gas drilling not only makes U.S. firms more competitive but also has a broader global relevance. The Ambassador warned that forecasts of future technological change can be "wildly wrong", but said he believes "that human innovation and creativity will continue – and that it will be for the good of all woman and mankind."
With regard to the U.S.-German relationship, Murphy said, "I think Chancellor Merkel deserves a lot of credit for advancing the transatlantic partnership. She and President Obama agree that whether we are talking about our developed transatlantic economies or the dynamic emerging economies in the Far East or the most impoverished regions of our world, economic progress enriches us all. Why? Because not only does it create new markets and a more stable world order, quite simply it’s also the right and the smart thing to do."
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.