The 1980 Mariel Boatlift—Did the arrival of low-skilled Cuban immigrants harm the labor market for locals in Miami?

Mariel Boatlift

In a unique historical episode, between April and September of 1980, 120,000 low-skilled Cubans arrived in Miami. The sudden nature and random timing and location of the flow make this an ideal “quasi-experiment” for testing whether labor markets experienced depressed wages and employment opportunities due to the refugee wave. A simplistic concept of labor supply and demand might suggest that “yes” local workers were hurt by the wave, but what is the truth in the data? Economists have been fascinated with this question, and Giovanni Peri and Vasil Yasenov wanted their own look at it.
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How Can We Extend the Working Lifetime? Compressing Time Spent in School Might Not Be the Answer

commuters

In response to demographic change—an aging population means fewer workers—policy makers in many industrialized countries are looking for ways to extend individuals’ working life. Shortening the time spent in school is one idea, but simple reductions result in students learning less. Germany tried a different reform: it kept the number of hours that children spend in school the same, but compressed it into one less year. Thus, students have the same amount of schooling, just over a shorter period of time. Jan Marcus (University of Hamburg and DIW Berlin) and Vaishali Zambre (DIW Berlin) evaluated this reform and examined how higher education enrollment was affected.
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Drug Violence in Mexico Increased Migration Flows to the United States

Mexican passport

In 2006 the Mexican government launched an aggressive military campaign against drug trafficking organizations that sparked competition, fragmentation, and alliances among criminal organizations. The move led to instability and a staggering amount of violence. In a new study, Sandra Orozco-Aleman and Heriberto Gonzalez-Lozano analyze the effect of this increase in violence on the inflows of migrants from Mexico into the United States.
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Workers with Unique Competence at Their Workplace Say “I’m Taking a Sick Day” Less Often

Workers with unique competence have 10 percent lower sickness absence.

In many production processes, there is a high degree of complementarity between employees in different jobs—in other words, workers with unique functions are each essential and depend on each other to get the work done. In such cases, work absence can be costly for firms, especially if there are few employees with similar skills who can substitute for the absent worker. In a new study, Lena Hensvik and Olof Rosenqvist (both at Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Uppsala, Sweden) explore how employers are addressing this problem.
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Understanding Working Hours—Can We Rely on Worker-Recalled Data?

Estimation of labor supply elasticities

Economists need to understand workers’ reported working hours to develop sound policies related to the labor market, such as income-tax systems, childcare programs, and universal basic-income schemes. In a new study, Garry Barrett (University of Sydney) and Daniel Hamermesh (Barnard College) asked: How well do workers report their hours? Do we really have an accurate understanding of the labor supply?
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Job Corps Improves Earnings, Employment, and Use of Public Benefits…Even for Eligible Nonparticipants

Job Corps effects

Government-sponsored job training programs are believed to be essential to improve the job prospects of economically disadvantaged citizens and reduce dependence on safety net programs, but do they work? Job Corps is the main federal training program in the United States targeted at disadvantaged youth ages 16 to 24. Xuan Chen (Renmin University of China), Carlos A. Flores (California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo), and Alfonso Flores-Lagunes (Syracuse University) measure the effectiveness of Job Corps training and find a positive effect on three important outcomes—earnings, employment, and amount of public benefits received.
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