Category Archives: Highlight

Interview with GLO Fellow & Cluster Lead Thailand Ruttiya Bhula-or about joining the GLO network and the current challenges

Assistant Professor Dr Ruttiya Bhula-or is a Vice Dean at the College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University, a director/ key coordinator of Collaborating Centre for Labour Research at Chulalongkorn University, a GLO Fellow and GLO Country Lead for Thailand. In her interview, she reflects the challenging situation in the economy and on the labor market both in the short-run and the long-run. She reveals her mission and vision as a researcher and describes her role in the upcoming collaboration between her university and GLO.

Some core messages of the interview:

  • Chulalongkorn University collaborates with the Ministry of Labor to establish the National Labor Research Center and Collaborating Center for Labor Research at Chulalongkorn University (CU-COLLAR).
  • The developing collaboration is to help facilitate the national-global platform in advancing labor research and policies into practice.
  • Her upcoming publication deals with the socioeconomic disparities in Thailand under the impact of COVID-19.
  • In the long-term, universal protection of vulnerable groups is the policy priority.
  • The private sector is urging the Thai government to adopt a vaccine passport scheme to support tourism.
  • Strong public health interventions, among other factors, had successfully flattened the epidemic Covid-19 curve by mid-2020.
  • A large share of Thais were reported to be willing to be vaccinated.

Assistant Professor Dr Ruttiya Bhula-or is a Vice Dean at College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University, a director/ key coordinator of Collaborating Centre for Labour Research at Chulalongkorn University, Secretariat to National Labour Research Centre at the Ministry of Labour, and a committee member on Labour Reform, Thai Senate of Thailand. She has hand-on experience at the national and international level with UN organizations, and contributes to academic areas and promotes linkages of labour researches into policies and practices using an interdisciplinary approach.  She has been actively working in the area of labour market analysis, skills, gender, migration, and labour policy linkages. As a GLO Fellow she is the GLO Country Lead Thailand.

Ruttiya Bhula-or & Attakrit Leckcivilize, Widening of Socioeconomic Disparities in Thailand under the Impact of COVID-19


GLO: CU-Collar and Chulalongkorn University have joined the GLO network. What is the institutional background?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: Chulalongkorn University collaborates with the Ministry of Labor to establish the National Labor Research Center and Collaborating Center for Labor Research at Chulalongkorn University (CU-COLLAR). The center aims at extending a network among educational institutions, private sectors in Thailand, as well as an international level and advancing labor, human resource research for the Thai and global community. The objective of CU-COLLAR is to leverage, to fully integrate and to manage labor-related knowledge and database of labor and human resources, along with (1) becoming a center for research studies on labor issues and enabling the planning of a labor development which is in line with the Thailand 4.0 heading toward sustainability and sustainable development goals; (2) promoting studies and usage of research in policy decision making; (3) developing a database that all interested parties can use for research purposes; (4) extending labor research network at the national and international level to increase competitiveness of the country and to promote a better quality of life for the Thai and global community. 

GLO: What is your role in this new collaboration?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: As CU-COLLAR has a strong commitment to contributing to evidence-informed policy-making and promoting dialogue on labor, social and human development, our key roles are to promote linkages of knowledge and enable a platform as well as knowledge production and dissemination and for cooperation between stakeholders within the local and global community.
My role in this collaboration is to help facilitate this national-global platform in advancing labor research and policies into practice. The working mechanism includes existing and expanding public, private, and academic partnerships at the national and international level in building structures and systems that embed research use and drive evidence use in a sustainable development manner.

GLO: What are your recent research interests?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: My recent research interests are varied, including labor market analysis, skills, gender, migration, and labor policy linkages. My upcoming publication is the socioeconomic disparities in Thailand under the impact of COVID-19.  CU-COLLAR has just published “a guideline to foster the Thai Labor Market through the COVID-19 pandemic” with the Thai Senate on Labor and has just reported to the Thai Senate last month.
Ruttiya Bhula-or and Chi Montakarn (2021) Approaches to Drive the Thai Labor Market Pass the COVID-19 Era: The Adaptation of All Work Groups and Ages Towards Stability and Sustainability

GLO: Beyond the COVID-19 crisis: What are the long-term challenges the Thai’s labor market has to solve?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: According to my article with Prof. Niaz, before the COVID-19, the COVID-19 outbreak will hammer existing income and wealth inequalities. The COVID-19 will have a disproportionately negative impact on the poorer households, who are informal workers, workers in small-to-mid enterprises and family businesses. On the other hand, many employers have reorganized businesses allowing employees the option to work from home, but the country’s digital divide remains wide. These challenges thus will be a short-term and long-term effect and need extensive and universal protection of vulnerable group as the policy priority.
M Niaz Asadullah and Ruttiya Bhula-or (2020) Why COVID-19 Will Worsen Inequality in Thailand. The Diplomat, 28 April 2020.

GLO: In particular: Will tourism recover and what can the options be for the country?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: It is clear that tourism-related sectors were the most severely affected due to the declaration of an emergency, a temporary ban on the majority of international flights, and measures restricting dining in restaurants and visiting entertainment venues. 
Thai stimulus packages include a domestic tourism stimulus initiative, known as Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together). However, Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world that attracted a large number of international tourists.  Domestic tourism cannot compensate for the net loss. It is clear that the private sector is urging the Thai government to adopt a vaccine passport scheme and a travel bubble arrangement with countries where the prevalence rate of COVID-19 is low to moderate.
Maya Taylor (2021) The Thaiger Thai industry representatives push government on vaccine passport policy.

GLO: So far, Thailand was quite successful in fighting the pandemic: What is the explanation?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: Actually, Thailand reported an imported case of COVID-19; the first case detected outside China. Thanks to strong public health interventions, community engagement, effective governance, a high degree of public cooperation, and good community-based networks, Thailand had successfully flattened the epidemic curve by the mid-2020 (WHO & MOPH, 2020). Nevertheless, the second wave of outbreaks has started in December 2020 in a migrant-intensive province, highlighting the vulnerability of low-paid migrant workers to the pandemic.
World Health Organization & Ministry of Public Health (2020) Joint Intra-Action Review of the Public Health Response to COVID-19 in Thailand, 20-24 July 2020.

GLO: Why is Thailand not joining the international COVID-19 vaccine alliance?

Ruttiya Bhula-or: The Thai government claimed that Thailand, as a middle-income country, is ineligible for cheap vaccines under the WHO’s Covax scheme. The government also added that the country had to make an advance payment without knowing the source of vaccines and delivery dates. With this, Thailand becomes the last ASEAN nation to roll out vaccines.
In the meantime, health workers have begun receiving vaccination from imported Chinese Sinovac shots, but mass vaccinations for the general population will be locally produced in June [1]. The additional reason goes to the efficacy of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is upward of 70.4%, compared with over 50% for Sinovac’s product [2].
No doubt, this policy draws attention to the public interest. According to the survey by YouGov, a large share of Thais reported that they are willing to be vaccinated. (The survey was taken between Nov. 17 and Jan. 10, covering 2,088 participants in Thailand.) [3] In addition, the private sector, for example, the tourism industry, also further push pressure on the government for alternative stimulus and vaccine passport policies.  We are looking forward to this June for vaccination and, with uttermost hope, a gradually socioeconomic recovering.
[1] REUTERS (2021) Govt defends decision not to join Covax vaccine alliance, 14 FEB 2021.
[2] Dominic Faulder and Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat (2021)Thailand finally kicks off COVID vaccinations: 25 things to know
[3]  Khaosod English  (2020) Thais most willing to take vaccine, out of 24 surveyed countries, 18 January 2021

With Ruttiya Bhula-or spoke Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO President.

Ruttiya Bhula-or reporting to the Thai Senate in 2021


Azita Berar on ‘Appraising the youth uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Ten years on, too early to say ?!’ GLO Policy Brief No. 5.

Azita Berar is Director Policy of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), and Senior Fellow, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

GLO Policy Brief No. 5
Theme 2: Inequalities and labor markets
Theme 4: Youth employment and participation

Appraising the youth uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa

Ten years on, too early to say ?!

by Azita Berar

It is ten years since  several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), were swept by waves of peaceful youth-led protests, longing  for economic and social justice and political freedoms. These uprisings, also called the “Arab Spring”, eventually led to the fall of long established leaders in some countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya), ushered attempts of reform in others (Morocco, Algeria, Jordan), and stalled  in  protracted and violent civil strife in others (Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen) where competing external interventions have compounded internal polarizations.

In this Policy Brief, I argue that the transformational impact of the “Arab Spring” process is more complex, global and open-ended than is generally acknowledged.


Ten years on: reflecting on root causes and policy outcomes of the “Arab Spring”

  • It has become a common practice, especially on anniversaries such as this one, to revisit the original demands that drove the Arab uprisings at the end of 2010 and throughout 2011 and to measure the progress achieved.  But could we or should we assess the outcomes of revolutions, social movements and uprisings by establishing a balance sheet to score successes and failures?  To identify winners and losers? Could we attribute responsibilities for these diverging and complex outcomes in different settings?
  • Ten years on,- notwithstanding the specific circumstances and dynamics in each country-, the impressions of an unfinished agenda, of an aborted revolution, of stagnation or even backpedaling predominate. These sentiments have replaced the worldwide jubilation, admiration and support that poured then into the symbolic seeds of these youthful uprisings: Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, the town of M. Bouazizi’s tragic self-immolation and the Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
  • There are many outstanding questions regarding the “Arab Spring”. There is still an unsettled debate for example as how to qualify these uprisings: social movement, political revolt, revolution or any other denomination?
  • Regarding the substance of claims that filled the placards carried by young protestors across the region, the twin themes of “Freedom and Equity” predominated, revealing a mix of deeply rooted political, economic and social grievances.
  • Chief amongst the socio-economic grievances voiced by young women and men throughout the region, was the demand for “jobs”, more precisely, for “decent work”. The desperate self-immolation of Abu Azizi, a young street vendor in the small town of Sidi Bouzid, which sparked the waves of protests in Tunisia, was symbolic on more than one count. It epitomized the plight of the informal economy, the only source of jobs and livelihoods for a majority of the workforce, in all the dimensions of precarity and insecurity associated with it. The eldest son of a family of disenfranchised small land-owner, he had to abandon his early efforts of farming and after multiple attempts to find decent formal jobs in the town he had come to settle in, he resorted to selling vegetable and fruits on a cart, with funds borrowed, to cater for himself and the family of six. He also had to struggle all along to finish his own schooling and have his siblings go to school. As a street vendor, he was subject to continuous harassment by local authorities on various grounds including for presenting a permit that later was confirmed that he did not need. The situation of  informal economy workers is not much different today. Informality is on the rise with the continued youth employment crisis in the region. The COVID-19 induced economic slowdown has increased poverty including working poverty. The various relief and compensation packages, seldom take into account work and income losses and access to health and social protection of those who live and work in conditions of informality.
  • The tragic event also gave a human face to the millions of young women and men in the region, who each year, upon finishing school, struggle to find a decent job and a meaningful place in the society. Ten years on, youth unemployment rates remain as stubbornly high, in all of the MENA region, as a decade ago; sadly, the highest in the world[1]. Difficulties in school to work transitions affect all strokes of youth including the university graduates. The “decent work” deficits are also manifest in more significant indicators, such as high incidence of inactivity and discouraged labour and low pay jobs amongst youth.  Across all these indicators, youth are affected disproportionately,  compared to their relative weight in the population and young women consistently, at a higher disadvantage. The gender gap is significant signaling pervasive segregation and discrimination in numerous sectors. In addition, women shoulder a disproportionate share of unpaid care labour, in view of the limited availability of affordable and accessible social infrastructure for child and elderly care.
  • While the demographics in the region, in particular the youth bulge, explain the pressure on labour markets, they do not excuse the poor performance in youth transitions. There is a collective political responsibility of policy actors in public and private spheres in the region for, gradually but surely, missing out on the short and irreversible window of opportunity that the “youth dividend” represents. The same dividend that many analysts consider, as a key success factor in promoting the “East Asian Tigers”’ economic miracle[2].   
  • Despite all the soul-searching that was undertaken in the wake of youth protests a decade ago, internally, as  well as by international institutions and development partners, the main course of  economic and social strategies, have  not changed fundamentally.
  • Scholars of the region had pointed then to the gaps and needed direction of change to deliver on more and better job-friendly and inclusive outcomes. The kinds of structural changes in economic strategies that were advocated, such as supporting an endogenous Research and Innovation (R&I) capacity  and  a genuine industrial policy redressing the exclusionary nature of current privatization policies, as well as  better negotiating  terms of  integration in the global economy, have not been followed suit.
  • The discursive mea culpa of international financial institutions for the neglect of the social and human side of the equation[3] , was not followed through either with action or support for the adoption of alternative macro-economic frameworks.[4]
  • Whilst in the first few years after the uprisings, the region saw a flurry of projects and increased development cooperation dedicated to youth employment, gender equality and in support of reform and inclusion agendas, these did not amount to a significant change in policy priorities and approaches.  Investments in access to health, in quality education, in inclusive skills’ training opportunities and for  extending capacities for implementation and institutional development have not matched the needs. Even in Tunisia which, by all accounts, has had a most peaceful and successful transition to date , thanks to the strength of its social institutions[5], policy reform and implementation have become captive of protracted consultations, political balancing and frequent changes in ministerial assignments.
  • On the objective of democratization, the score may seem even weaker, and the space that was created and occupied seem to have closed or significantly shrunk. Aside from the Tunisian exception, elsewhere  coercive measures and repression,  and sometimes, serious breaches of human rights, seem to have won over. The no-choice policy narrative of  “radical Islamism” or “autocracy” prior to the Arab uprisings  is gradually replaced by another no-choice,  that of either “chaos” or “autocracy”.
  • However, it will be wrong to limit the legacy of the Arab Spring to these considerations, as fundamental as they are. The unmet aspirations have not de-legitimized the original drive. The acquired experience of new citizenship rights, of holding the rulers accountable and  the claims of “dignity”, “justice” and other non-quantifiable transformational values, awakened by the 2010-2011 protests, are vivid. The more recent rounds of protests in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, show that these demands and expectations, resurface recurrently and occupy the space that can be occupied. Each time, the agenda of demands is pushed into new spaces and in more creative ways.

Shouldn’t we look at “Arab Spring”, its triggers and outcomes, by situating it more globally ?

  • Most people analyze the “Arab Spring” through an “essentialist” lens, explaining its rise and demise from the specific historical and geopolitical  conditions in Middle East and North Africa. There is another perspective to consider:  that of the chain of protests against inequalities and backlashes of globalization that have sparked indifferent geographies and succeeded each other throughout the last decade.
  • We should recall that the youth uprisings in MENA followed shortly the 2008 global economic financial crisis that caused global recession and slowdown, with massive impacts on jobs. The global crisis was revelatory of another, that of an unprecedented youth employment crisis. The “Arab spring” was preceded by the 2009 “Green Uprising” in Iran,  and followed by numerous  bouts of similar protests on the other shores of the Mediterranean and beyond.  Such as those by the “Indignados” starting in Spain, or “Occupy Wall Street” for example, that developed in the following months and years and spread worldwide. The reference by the “Occupy” movement to the “Tahrir moment”[6], clearly shows the catalytic role that the “Arab Spring” played in the string of social protests movements in the early years of the decade.
  • While the local dynamics and demands differed, there were several  common denominators amongst these youth-led leaderless movements. First, was a loud outcry against inequalities and neo-liberal policies that shaped the globalization, in particular for failing to deliver on the goals of full and decent employment and on social inclusion and mobility agendas. Another common demand was the quest for new forms of participatory democracy and for creating new forms of local empowerment as a means to rebuild trust in the institutions. Unsurprisingly, in the midst of another global crisis, that of COVID-19, these demands have re-emerged creating a new momentum for  paradigm shifts.
  • The Arab Spring also acted as a catalyst to the emergence of yet another phenomenon, that of  “youth agency” in global governance. Several international resolutions and calls for actions spearheaded by the United Nations System were adopted in direct response to the youth employment crisis[7] revealed by the 2008 financial crisis and echoed through the 2010-2011 “Arab Spring”. Ever since, inviting youth as a distinct stakeholder in the policy conversation and  promoting youth voice and engagement in consultative and advisory formats, in various forums related to sustainable development or to peace building agendas has become a new standard pattern. The organization and institutionalization of numerous youth fora along global, regional and national policy making conferences, the growth of new youth-led or youth-centered organizations in all regions and their engagement by multiple stakeholders, governments, private sector, civil society and academia, show the road traveled in less than a decade.

Ten years is a short period in a historical perspective.But what is an adequate time frame to appraise the impact of the “Arab Spring” ?  There is a famous quote attributed to the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai. When asked in early 1970’s about the influence of the French Revolution, he is reputed to have said: ‘Too early to say!’

The 2010-2020 decade joins two major global crises. The 2008 global financial crisis followed by the austerity policies adopted since 2010, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These crises triggered massive social and economic meltdowns, waves of social and political protests and alternative ideas looking into the future. In this broader perspective, how to appraise the impact of  the “Arab Spring”, in the region and globally ? Certainly in more complex terms and it is “Too early to say.

[1] In 2020, the youth unemployment rate in North Africa stood at 30 percent compared to the world average of 13,6 percent. For all indicators, see various editions of ILO, Global Employment Trends for Youth.
[2] There is a growing body of empirical evidence on the subject since the original work by D.E.  Bloom & J.G. Williamson, Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia, was published in 1997.
[3] Momani, B and Lanz, D (2014) Shifting IMF Policies Since the Arab Uprisings, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Policy Brief no. 34.
[4] Mohammed Mossallam, The IMF in the Arab world: Lessons unlearnt, SOAS, University of London, December 2015.
[5] The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet composed of the UGTT (the Tunisian General Labour Union), UTICA (the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts), Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, was awarded the 2015 Noble Peace Prize for its decisive contribution to consolidate democratic gains and a peaceful constitutional settlement.
[6] The organizers of the Occupy Wall Street posted in their July 2011 web-post: Are you ready for a “Tahrir moment”? The expression has been used multiple times since.
[7] See  ILO, 2012 The youth employment crisis: A call for action. Adopted by tripartite constituents from ILO’s 189 members. ILO subsequently led the for formulation and launch in 2016 of a Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, a joint UN system wide initiative and multi-stakeholder partnership.

Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.
Featured image: Mohamed Bouazizi


GLO Virtual Seminars: Report & Video of Event with Marco Vivarelli on ‘May AI Revolution be Labour-friendly?’

The GLO Virtual Seminar is a monthly internal GLO research event chaired by GLO Director Matloob Piracha and hosted by the GLO partner institution University of Kent. The results are available on the GLO website and the GLO News section, where also the video of the presentation is posted. All GLO related videos are also available in the GLO YouTube channel. (To subscribe go there.)

The last seminar was given on March 5, 2021, London/UK at 1-2 pm, by Marco Vivarelli, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and GLO, on May AI revolution be labour-friendly? Some micro evidence from the supply side. See below a report, a link to the presentation slides and the full video of the seminar.


May AI revolution be labour-friendly? Some micro evidence from the supply side.

GLO Virtual Seminar on March 5, 2021

Marco Vivarelli, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and GLO

Video of Seminar. Presentation slides.


“COVID-19” Virtual Workshop of the Academia Europaea (AE) Section “Economics, Business and Management Sciences” took place on November 23, 2020 hosted by the Central European University (CEU).

Hosted by the Central European University (CEU) and its CEU School of Public Policy (Vienna/Austria), the AE Section “Economics, Business and Management Sciences” of the Academia Europaea (AE), the Academy of Europe, organized a virtual Workshop on “COVID-19” on November 23, 2020, 9 am to 5 pm, CET – Vienna time. The event was supported by the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

This was an internal meeting of the AE section on special invitation only; a larger number of section members joined during the day as did a larger number of guests from CEU & GLO placed in various parts of the world.

Central European University (CEU), Vienna

November 23, 2020: “COVID-19” Virtual Workshop of the Academia Europaea (AE) Section “Economics, Business and Management Sciences”, all CET/Vienna.


Ingy Kassem

Starting at 9.00 am; Informal get together, flexible entry….

Moderator of the event: Ingy Kassem (Central European University, Executive Assistant to the Head of the School of Public Policy)

NOTE: Ingy Kassem announced the program parts. The session chairs briefly announced the speakers. The speakers took 20 minutes for presentation. 10 minutes discussion. Luxurious breaks were used for intense communication. Participants brought their own food and drinks…. The meeting was not recorded.

9.30 am; Klaus F. Zimmermann (MAE, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University & GLO): Welcome of the Section Chair

9.35 – 9.50 am; Martin Kahanec (MAE,  Central European University, Acting Dean of CEU School of Public Policy): Welcome of the Host & and CEU Business

9.50 – 10.40 am; Graziella Bertocchi (MAE, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia):
COVID-19, Race, and Redlining
Chair: Andreu Mas-Colell (MAE, Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

10.40 – 10.50 am;”Water, Coffee, Tea, Cookies” (virtual)

10.50 – 11.40 am; Matthias Sutter (MAE, University of Cologne & Max-Planck Bonn):
Nudging or Paying? Evaluating the effectiveness of measures to contain COVID-19 in rural Bangladesh in a randomized controlled trial.
Chair: Reinhilde Veugelers (MAE, University of Leuven)

Some visible participants:

11.40 – 11.50 am; “Water, Coffee, Tea, Fruits” (virtual)

11.50am – 12.40 pm; Anil Duman (Guest, Central European University):
Wage Losses and Inequality in Developing Countries: labor market and distributional consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns in Turkey
Chair: Klaus F. Zimmermann (MAE, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University & GLO)

12.40 – 13.50 pm; Lunch with 3 random “seat” allocations….  (virtual, participants brought food and drinks and exchanged views in three changing group rounds)

13.50 – 14.40 pm; Peter Nijkamp (MAE, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):
Corona Impacts on the Hospitality Market. A Space-time Economic Roller-Coaster Analysis
Chair: Martin Kahanec (MAE,  Central European University)

14.40 – 14.50 pm; “Water, Coffee, Tea, Cookies” (virtual)

14.50 – 15.40 pm; Luiz Moutinho (MAE, University of Suffolk):
Artificial Intelligence and Control of COVID-19
Chair: Mirjana Radovic-Markovic (MAE, Institute of Economic Sciences)

15.40 – 15.50 pm; “Conference picture – group photo”.

Some visible participants:

15.50 – 16.40 pm; Marcella Alsan (Guest, Harvard University):
Civil Liberties in Times of Crises
Chair: Amelie Constant (MAE, Princeton University)

16.40 – 16.50 pm; Final remarks: Martin Kahanec & Klaus F. Zimmermann
16.50 – 17.00 pm; “After the hour”: Section Committee only. Group photo.

The end.

AE Section Committee “Economics, Business and Management Sciences”

All speakers and conference chairs:


GLO Virtual Young Scholars Program (GLO VirtYS): Announcement of the 2020-21 GLO VirtYS Cohort

The GLO Virtual Young Scholars Program (GLO VirtYS) 2020/2021 has started its activity.

In the spirit of the GLO Mission, the GLO VirtYS program’s goal is to contribute to the development of the future generation of researchers, who are committed to the creation of policy-relevant research, are well equipped to work in collaboration with policy makers and other stakeholders, and adhere to the highest standards of academic integrity. This goal is achieved through the process of working on a specific research paper within the duration of the program, which is 9 months, and interact with the GLO VirtYS cohort and advisors.

Under the leadership of GLO VirtYS Program Director Olena Nizalova, the participants have virtually met with GLO officials and advisors on November 12 for a warm welcome and first interactions. GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann and GLO Director Matloob Piracha made introductory remarks. GLO VirtYS Program Assistant Yannis Galanakis reported from his experience as a member of the GLO VirtYS 2010/2020 cohort.

The following program participants have been appointed GLO Affiliate:

Shweta Bahl, Muchin Isabel Bazan Ruiz, Jie Chen, Femke Cnossen, María Celeste Gómez, Jun Hyung Kim, Odmaa Narantungalag, and Soumya Pal.

GLO VirtYS Advisors are: Almas Heshmati, Francesco Pastore, Matloob Piracha, Eva Sierminska, Kompal Sinha, and Jan van Ours.

Snapshot from the first meeting:


Report on the ‘Third IESR-GLO Joint Conference’, June 5-7, on COVID-19. With links to videos of the keynote lectures of Acemoglu & Manski.

Third IESR-GLO Joint Conference. The Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR) at Jinan University and the Global Labor Organization (GLO) were jointly organizing a virtual conference on economic issues related to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Speakers of June 7

Lamis Kattan, Jianan Lu, Stefan Pichler, Domenico Depalo, Robin Kaiji Gong & Sergio Scicchitano


Wei Shi, Klaus F. Zimmermann, Shuaizhang Feng & Yingyao Hu


GLO Fellows met on June 5 at the CEU in Budapest to discuss the future of Europe after the recent elections

Quo Vadis Europe after the European elections? Martin Kahanec and Klaus F. Zimmermann (both Budapest) debated on June 5, 2019 with Elsa Fornero (Turin) and Jonathan Portes (London) the consequences and perspectives for Europe in front of a larger audience assembled at the Central European University in Budapest. Zimmermann, President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), was chairing and moderating the event; Fornero, Kahanec and Portes are GLO Fellows.

The common economic and political development in Europe, in particular labor mobility, labor market reforms, evidence-based policy making and the role of scientists have been key elements of the public debate about the future of Europe. EU-pessimism has become stronger and stronger, and the recent EU elections provide guidance about the potentials for a recovery of the European idea in the face of Brexit and a possible dismantling of European institutions. The panel brought together experienced academic exponents combing research with policy for debate at this critical point of European history.

Klaus F. Zimmermann, George Soros Chair Professor, School of Public Policy, Central European University (CEU), President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), frequent advisor to the EU Commission and European governments and Former President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Chair & Panelist

  • Populism and anti-globalism is on the rise.
  • Evidence-based policymaking is losing weight.
  • The value of migration and international institutions is questioned.
  • The freedom of academic institutions gets under threat.
  • Scientist are challenged to analyze and to respond to this development when also their insights are ignored.
  • Voters move away from centrist parties, who lose majority.
  • Pro-European liberals and greens become stronger and are now a third force.
  • Anti-parties (anti-Europe, anti-migration) are stronger, but not dramatically.
  • This is all a vote for a revival of the European idea.
  • Facing strong global challenges from Asia, Africa and the USA, Europe needs to stick together and develop from its strength.
  • More Europe not less is needed in the interest of the European nations and its people.
  • This implies re-inventing the European idea and export some of its great institutions: social institutions, education and training and labor mobility.

Elsa Fornero, Professor of Economics, University of Turin, Department of Business and Economics, Scientific Coordinator of CeRP – Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies and Former Minister of Labor, Social Policies and Gender Equality in Italy; Panelist

  • Reforms must live in society with the people – workers, politicians, pensioners, etc. It is not a purely technical problem.
  • We, technocrats, believed in reforms but the society did not accept them. The society misunderstood the policies as austerity measures.
  • Economic models are dealing with prosperity, but real policymaking is about elections, which are always around the corner.
  • The populists saw the weak points of reformists and the discontent of people and exploited them.
  • Labor mobility and work in Europe should be reestablished as a right of the individuals and this should be in the center of the new Europe.
  • We should strengthen the civil society – politicians and the elites should go out and talk to the people.

Martin Kahanec, Professor and Dean of the School of Public Policy, Central European University (CEU), Budapest, and frequent advisor to the EU Commission; Panelist

  • These elections showed the discontent between East and West, South and North, globalists and localists
  • In the 90s the region had a dream – get rid of the Soviets, which unified the societies. And move back to Europe – Schengen, EU, Eurozone, etc. However, after they joined the EU there is a vacuum of dreams. What is our next mission?
  • Although the lowest election participation was in Slovakia, it is a EU positive country.
  • Elites and workers feared migration from outside of Europe. But not internal labor mobility.
  • Internal mobility helps build bridges over the old cleavages, but is also beneficial economically.
  • Europe should have a policy for external migration which tackles the aging population challenge. The EU needs a migration framework, which is economically profitable, but also needs to have control and be predictable.

Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Senior Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe, Department of Political Economy, King’s College London, Former Chief Economist of the UK government, Former Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research; Panelist

  • The long term forces behind Brexit were not migration, but that the EU is not only an economic but also a political project. And the British felt that their positions in the world were threatened. Sentiments in this direction grew after the world economic crisis.
  • The British attitude towards migration has changed after the referendum, becoming more positive. It has to do with a drop in the migration from the EU, and an increase from the outside. The gaps created were filled with workers from outside of the EU, and the need was better understood.
  • The lack of control scared people because they wanted the “right” immigration
  • If one provides a sense of control and of the existing trade-offs, the situation will approve.
  • Thanks to the failure of May we are likely to have a hard Brexit or to reverse the results and stay in the EU. There is no middle ground anymore. Even if in a second vote the result would be “remain” – the issue would not be settled.
  • People thought that Brexit would be easy and not painful; they now realize how wrong they were.
  • If Germany turns into success its refugee immigration, then Germans would send to Europe a tremendously positive example. 

From the left during the panel: Klaus F. Zimmermann, Chair, Budapest and Bonn; Jonathan Portes, London; Elsa Fornero, Turin; and Martin Kahanec, Budapest and Vienna.

After the panel during a joint dinner from the left: The Honorable Tanya Cook, USA; CEU Professor Anil Duman and GLO Fellow; Turin Professor and Former Labor Minister Elsa Fornero; CEU Dean and Professor Martin Kahanec; and Klaus F. Zimmermann, George Soros Chair, CEU, and GLO President.


Climate Change and Human Responses: More impressions from the KAS-FOM-GLO conference in Hong Kong co-organized by the Global Labor Organization (GLO), FOM University of Applied Sciences and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS)

The joint FOM-GLO-KAS Conference about “Climate Change and Human Responses” co-organized by the Global Labor Organization (GLO), FOM University of Applied Sciences and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) took place on October 31 – November 2 in Hong Kong. (See for detailed reports: DAY ONE, DAY TWO, DAY THREE ) Here are some further impressions (courtesy of KAS):

Conference participants at Day 2 after lunch.

Conference organizers (from the left): GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann, Peter Hefele, Director of the Hong Kong branch of the German Konrad-Adenauer Foundation and Andreas Oberheitmann (FOM, RWI and GLO).

RECENT GLO Discussion Papers on the issue of the conference (freely downloadable):

DP 266 Smog, Cognition and Real-World Decision MakingDownload PDF
by Chen, Xi
DP 221 Gender and climate change: Do female parliamentarians make a difference?Download PDF
by Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar
DP 86 Do Environmental Regulations Effect FDI decisions? The Pollution Haven Hypothesis Revisited – Download PDF
by Yoon, Haeyeon & Heshmati, Almas
DP 78 Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Migration: Evidence from Mexico – Download PDF
by Chort, Isabelle & de la Rupelle, Maëlys
DP 56 Happiness in the Air: How Does a Dirty Sky Affect Mental Health and Subjective Well-being? – Download PDF
by Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi
DP 32 Smog in Our Brains: Gender Differences in the Impact of Exposure to Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance  – Download PDF
by Chen, Xi & Zhang, Xiaobo & Zhang, Xin