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The latest research on jobs and development: conference round-up

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This is a round-up of the almost 50 papers on the agenda of the 5th Jobs and Development Conference (organized by IZA/World Bank/NJD/UNU-WIDER) held in the first week of September.  With 6-7 papers per 1½ hour session, it was a whirlwind conference.


Data from household phone surveys in 39 countries document the large decline in work at the onset of the pandemic, which was not fully captured by IMF GDP projections. (Khamis et al)

Data from household phone surveys in 40 countries show that the employment shock from the pandemic disproportionately impacted women, as well as having differential impacts across age and education groups. (Newhouse et al)

Data from four countries in Southeast Asia show that the employment shock from the pandemic disproportionately impacted women and youth. (Khatiwada et al)

Data from #Ghana show that the employment shock from the pandemic disproportionately impacted women and informal workers. (Schotte et al)

Data from #Uganda show that employment shock from the pandemic disproportionately impacted young women. (Alfonsi, Namubiru, and Spaziani)

Data from firm phone surveys in 49 countries show that the pandemic disproportionately impacted women-led firms. (Torres et al)

In the first wave of the pandemic in #Chile, COVID spread faster in areas with a higher share of the workforce in jobs that cannot be performed from home and that are in the informal sector. (Bertheleon, Kruger, and Lara)

The rise in registered remittances in #Mexico in 2020 was larger in areas more dependent on informal channels before 2020. (Dinarte et al.)

Households not receiving remittances report larger negative effects of the pandemic in #Burkina Faso. (Tapsoba)

Remittances offset food insecurity in households with a COVID-19 employment shock in #Nigeria. (Akim, Ayivodji, and Kouton)

The pandemic resulted in a widening of the gender wage gap, especially among the lowest earners in #SouthAfrica. (Hill and Köhler)

Data from a digital marketplace for informal (freelance) labor in #Mozambique is used to track the phases of pandemic impacts on demand and supply of these workers. (Jones and Manique)


Yes, you can estimate labor statistics for municipalities in #Mexico using census and geospatial data when your household survey sample is not designed to provide such small-area estimates. (Merfeld et al)

Wages for jobs advertised online in #India are lowest for jobs with an explicit female preference and when the job text is predictive of an explicit female preference. [And I learned that some job ads ask men about their chest measurement.] (Chaturvedi, Mahajan and Siddique)

A descriptive look at global patterns of self-employment for men and women in the world finds that current levels of the gender gap in self-employment are largely unexplained by standard labor supply factors at the individual or household levels. (Lo Bue et al)

This paper is a cautionary study showing that increasing female labor force participation can lead to increasing inequality. (Alfani et al)

And on FLFP and inequality at the country level: A 50% increase in FLFP in #Mexico came with a widening of the gender wag gap at the bottom and a narrowing at the top of the wage distribution (due to demand trends favoring college educated women). (Bhalotra, Fernández and Wang)

Individual-level asset ownership (data which we usually do not get in household surveys) is associated with less unpaid work and more off-farm paid work for women in #Cambodia. (Hasanbasri et al)

Expanding maternity benefits in #Vietnam resulted in women shifting into public employment but not private employment or other forms of work. (Vu and Glewwe)


Occupational downgrading by Venezuelan migrants in #Colombia results in lower wages for less-educated and low-skilled Colombian workers. (Lebow)

But…a skilled labor supply shock from Venezuelan migration improves manufacturing firms’ export performance in #Colombia. (Lombardo and Penaloza-Pacheco)

Migrants from #Mexico with low economic prospects in their origin community favor high-risk, high-reward Mexico-US border-crossing locations. (Chau, Garip, and Oritz-Bobea)

Savings accumulated from temporary international migration address credit constraints and have a positive effect on self-employment for return migrants in #Bangladesh. (Boosavie et al)

Trade & Globalization

Greater import competition increases labor market distortions in the context of large firms and oligopolistic labor markets in #China. (Pham)

A positive export shock in #Vietnam results in substantial upward occupational mobility, attributed in part to improvements in educational attainment. (Mitra, Pham, and Ural-Marchand)

Trade agreements and increasing exports did not lead to improvements in labor market outcomes in #Egypt. (Robertson et al)

Local labor demand shocks from tariff reductions reduces men’s paid employment while increasing women’s entry into work, and results in increasing intimate partner violence in #Cambodia. (Erten and Keskin)

An increase in export intensity results in a reduction of the informality rate in the manufacturing sector in #Argentina. (Safogan)

Oil-induced improvements in employment prospects increase secondary school attendance in #Chad. (Moustapha)

Robots 1: Robots in the U.S. decrease employment and earnings for Colombians, especially women, in those sectors. (Kugler et al)

Structural change

There have been significant employment industrialization for many countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, which follows a period of de-industrialization in the early 2000s. (Kruse et al)

Yet…the share of formal manufacturing employment is not expanding more rapidly in #Tanzania and #Ethiopia, due to the dichotomy between larger manufacturing firms with superior productivity performance but who are not expanding employment much, and small firms that absorb employment but are not experiencing productivity growth. (Diao et al)

Robots 2: More robots lead to more unemployment, informality, inequality, and poverty in #Argentina, #Brazil, and #Mexico, with larger impacts on men than women. (Brambilla et al)

Robots 4: But… robots increase employment in most European countries, mainly through greater job stability (lower job separations). (Bachmann et al)

Robots 3: Labor-saving technologies (ie. robots) among firms in #Spain increase sourcing activities. (Cilekoglu, Moreno, and Ramos)

The long-term success in growth and poverty reduction in #China was underpinned by labor transitions. (Merotto and Jiang)

And others

There are low and steady levels of economic mobility in #Mexico, except during economic growth rebounds following deep economic crisis which marginally and temporarily reduces inequality. (Moreno)

Home-substitute jobs are at least 50% of all jobs for women, and make up the majority of service sector work. (Dinkelman and Ngai)

India 1: Labor is highly rationed in the lean season in #India with self-employment as disguised unemployment, but not in peak employment seasons. (Breza, Kaur, and Shamdasani)

India 2: Low-wage workers are willing to give up around a quarter of their daily wage for a job guarantee in urban #India. (Dhingra and Machin)

India 3: Mineral mining leads to better socioeconomic conditions for women in #India. (Guimbeau et al)

Does it work or not?

A temporary subsidy to firms to switch from formal employee search to network-based search in #Ethioipia has, on average, no effect on vacancy creation and hires (Hensel, Tekleselassie, and Witte)

Wage incentives increase employment rates among high-school graduates, notably without distorting future education plans in #Mexico. (Abel, Carranza and Ortega)

This study examines the labor market rewards to skills developed through the apprenticeship systems. (Langer)

More generous unemployment benefits cause a substitution of formal with informal employment in #Mauritius. (Lieppman and Pignatti)

Low-skilled employed workers in #Senegal experience increased wages and lower job transition after training focused on conscientiousness traits. (Allemand et al)

An adaptive targeted treatment assignment of cash, information, and psychosocial support had no immediate impact on employment outcomes of Syrian refugees in #Jordan, but the cash raises employment and earnings of refugees after 4 months. There are no impacts for Jordanians of any of these interventions. (Caria et al)

This study examines the earnings effects of startup employment. (García-Trujillo, Gonzalez and Silva)

This paper studies whether an online job portal can address hiring frictions in #India. (Singh, Tourek, and Fernando)


Lastly, check out the many papers (403 of them!) in the European Association of Labour Economists annual conference starting tomorrow and thru September 18.


Kathleen Beegle

Research Manager and Lead Economist, Human Development, Development Economics

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