Category Archives: Policy

CEU-GLO-CEPR Workshop on the Reconstruction of Ukraine on December 1, 2022 in Vienna as part of the GLO Global Conference 2022.

Hosted by the Department of Public Policy at Central European University (CEU) in collaboration with the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) as a part of the GLO Global Conference 2022.

  • Format: Hybrid (On-site for the Vienna audience, online public access)
  • Venue: Central European University, Quellenstrasse 51, Vienna, Austria
  • CEU Website LINK
  • December 1, 2022; 16:30-18:30 CET Berlin time

Updated December 7, 2022.

The destruction and death toll that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has inflicted on the country is immense. One day, however, the war will be over. To offer Ukraine a positive prospect of effective, encompassing, and inclusive reconstruction that will not only recreate the status quo ante but will enable the country to upgrade for better, a salient roadmap is needed. One of the first contributions to this effort was the CEPR blueprint on the reconstruction of Ukraine. Following up on this effort, the CEPR has put together a group of scientists around the world, with two lead authors on each chapter – one from the EU and one from Ukraine (although most chapters have more than two authors) – to provide a salient blueprint for the reconstruction from Day 1. CEU and GLO have contributed several experts to this endeavor and will now hold a workshop on the reconstruction of Ukraine covering several chapters broadly related to labor issues on December 1, 2022; 16:30-17:30, at CEU’s Department of Public Policy in Vienna as part of the round the globe, round the clock GLO Global Conference 2022.


16:30-16:35 Welcome

  • Martin Kahanec, Head of the Department of Public Policy; Central European University
  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Editor of the CEPR book on the reconstruction of Ukraine; University of California, Berkeley

16:35-16:55 Healthcare

  • Carol Propper, Imperial College London
  • Yuriy Dzyghyr, former Deputy Minister of Finance, Ukraine
  • Kateryna Maynzyuk, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance expert, Ukraine
  • Adrianna Murphy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

16:55-17:15 Education

  • Martin Kahanec, Central European University, Vienna
  • Snizhana Leu-Severynenko, USAID Economic Resilience Activity
  • Anna Novosad, SavED, Ukraine, former Minister of Education and Science, Ukraine
  • Yegor Stadnyi, Kyiv School of Economics, former Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Ukraine

17:15-17:35 Labor Market

  • Giacomo Anastasia, Bocconi University, Milan
  • Tito Boeri, Bocconi University, Milan
  •  Marianna Kudlyak, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
  •  Oleksandr Zholud, National Bank of Ukraine

17:35-17:55 Business Environment

  • Yegor Grygorenko, Deloitte Ukraine
  • Monika Schnitzer, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich

17:55-18:15 EU Enlargement

  • Ivan Miklos, MESA 10 and CEU, advisor to the Slovak President, Moldovan Prime Minister, and National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine
  • Pavlo Klimkin, Centre for National Resilience and Development, former Foreign Minister of Ukraine

18:15-18:30 Discussion and Closing Remarks

            Martin Kahanec, CEU

Bio’s of all speakers see CEU website.

Department of Public Policy (DPP), Central European University

DPP is a multi-disciplinary and global public policy Department at the Central European University in Vienna aiming to create an educational experience that involves not only the acquisition of skills and knowledge but also the cultivation of a mindset that emphasizes social entrepreneurship, innovation, cultural awareness and a commitment to the public good. DPP offers four master’s degrees in public policy, and the public policy track of the Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science program. The Department boasts a team of outstanding resident faculty, world-class visiting faculty made up of top researchers, and practitioners in the public policy field who bring a wide array of academic and practical subjects to DPP’s diverse classroom.

Central European University (CEU) is a research-intensive university specializing in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy and management. It is accredited in the United States, Austria and Hungary. CEU’s mission is to promote academic excellence, state-of-the-art research, research-based teaching and learning and civic engagement, in order to contribute to the development of open societies. CEU offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs and enrolls more than 1,400 students from over 100 countries. The teaching staff consists of resident faculty from over 50 countries and prominent visiting scholars from around the world. The language of instruction is English.

Center for Economic Policy Research

The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) was founded in 1983 to enhance the quality of economic policy-making within Europe and beyond, by fostering high quality, policy-relevant economic research, and disseminating it widely to decision-makers in the public and private sectors. Drawing together the expertise of its Research Fellows and Affiliates, CEPR initiates, funds and coordinates research activities and communicates the results quickly and effectively to policymakers and other decision makers around the world. The Centre is an independent, non-profit organization and takes no institutional policy positions. 

Global Labor Organization

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is a global, independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that has no institutional position. The GLO functions as an international network and virtual platform for researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the general public interested in scientific research and its policy and societal implications on global labor markets, demographic challenges and human resources. These topics are defined broadly in line with its Mission to embrace the global diversity of labor markets, institutions, and policy challenges, covering advanced economies as well as transition and less developed countries.


Annual Journal of Population Economics Report 2021 (many submissions, fast first decisions, high impact) & two additional Associate Editors appointed.

The Journal of Population Economics (JOPE) welcomes Raphael Franck (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) and Rigissa Megalokonomou (University of Queensland, Australia) among its team of Associate Editors.

Congratulations. We all are looking forward to working with you!

Note: Meet authors of JOPE Issue 1 & 2 in the Spring Event presentation on April 25 of the Journal of Population Economics. More information and registration.

Report of the Editor-in-Chief for 2021

The Journal of Population of Economics is an international quarterly that publishes original theoretical and applied research in all areas of population economics, household economics, and human resources. This report contains information about the Journal and its editorial process in the past year and some earlier years.

The number of submissions has substantially increased over recent years (Figure 1). Between 2011 and 2013, the Journal received about 400 submissions per year; by 2016 the number of submissions neared 500. In 2020, 871 manuscripts were received, marking an annual increase of submissions of 41%. In 2021 the total number of submissions declined to 793. Over the decade 2010-2020, the manuscript inflow rose from 337 to a level 2.6 times higher. The additional workload was managed through an efficient desk rejection policy for initial screening.

In line with past years, the largest single share of submissions made in 2021 were from corresponding authors based in Europe (Figure 2). Over 40% of all submissions originated from Europe, and over one-third (32%) of submissions came from authors based in Asia and the Middle East. Under one-fifth (14.7%) of submissions came from authors based in North America. The remaining submissions came from contributors from Africa (3.6%), Oceania (Australia and New Zealand; 4.2%), and South and Central America (2.6%). Figure 3 contains the internet visits to the Journal on the Springer website from the world regions. With over a third of visits coming from North America and 29% from Europe, followed by the Asia-pacific region (22%), the Journal is globally accessed and read.

Figure 4 shows that the average number of days between submission and first decision has generally declined over time. Despite a slight uptick in the turnaround time for first decisions between 2015 and 2016, which may be partially attributed to the increased volume of submissions, there was a substantial reduction in turnaround time in following years. In 2021, the average time for first decisions was 23 days. The Journal is committed to keeping the time between submission and decisions low, including eventual publication. Since 2013 the Journal has executed a desk rejection policy to provide authors with an early signal for better targeting of their work. The large number of submissions combined with an annual quota of 40 manuscripts keeps the acceptance rates of the Journal  very low.

Table 1 shows three acceptance rate measures: 1) the number of manuscripts accepted in a given year as a share of all final decisions made in that year; 2) the number of published articles in a given year as a share of all submissions in that year; and; 3) the number of articles published in a given year divided by the number of the previous year’s submissions.

The number of accepted papers (submitted at any point in time) in a given year as a share of all decisions made in that year has shifted over time. The acceptance rate has slightly increased in the past years, from 4.9% in 2019 to 5.4% in 2020 and 7% in 2021. If acceptance rate is measured as the number of published manuscripts as a share of total submissions received in that year, the acceptance rate was lower, at 5% in 2021 (at 40 manuscripts from among 793 submissions), falling from 6.5% in 2019 but slightly increasing from 4.6% in 2020. Measuring the acceptance rate as the number of publications as a share of the number of submissions received in the previous year (2020) would yield a 2021 rate of 4.6%, which is lower than the previous years (7.1% in 2019 and 6.5% in 2020).

Table 2 reports  the status of papers submitted in the given year for years 2019 – 2021. The Journal’s Impact Factor has increased substantially over time (Figure 5). In the 2020 published simple Impact Factor was 2.813, and the 5-year Impact Factor was 3.318. The Journal ranked 104/377 in economics and 10/29 in demography in 2020. As of March 2022, the Journal’s IDEAS/RePEc ranking was 79/2,740 (based on the Simple Impact Factor 17.646, for Journals and all years).

The Journal is ranked in: Social Science Citation Index, Journal Citation Reports/Social Sciences, SCOPUS, EconLit, Google Scholar, EBSCO Discovery Service, ProQuest, CAB International, ABS Academic Journal Quality Guide, Academic OneFile, Academic Search, Bibliography of Asian Studies, CAB Abstracts, CSA Environmental Sciences, Current Contents/Social & Behavioral Sciences, ECONIS, ERIH PLUS, Gale, Global Health, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS), JSTOR, OCLC, Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), Review of Population Reviews, SCImago, and Summon by ProQuest.

Klaus F. Zimmermann, Editor-in-Chief
Journal of Population Economics


Understanding the setup and speed of global COVID-19 vaccination campaigns: VoxEU column published.

Because vaccinations are crucial to containing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to identify the key factors behind successful immunisation campaigns. This column shows that pandemic pressures, economic strength, educational advancement, and political regimes can affect vaccination uptake, given vaccine availability. While democratic regimes initially show faster vaccination uptake, this advantage fades out as countries try to get more people vaccinated. Countries with strong economies and education systems are likely to have faster uptake of vaccination campaigns.

Read the column:

Vu M. Ngo, Klaus F. Zimmermann, Phuc V. Nguyen, Toan Luu Duc Huynh and Huan H. Nguyen (2021).
Understanding the setup and speed of global COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

VoxEU on 25 January 2022.

Featured image: Markus-Spiske-DnBtFBnqlRc-unsplash


“Global Mobility after the Pandemic”. GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann speaks on September 29, 2021 at Saint Mary’s University in Canada.

On the invitation of ARGEIAD, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, Canada, Klaus F. Zimmermann, President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and UNU-MERIT, Maastricht, will speak on September 29, 2021 in a public online lecture on Global Mobility after the Pandemic. The meeting will be chaired by Dr. Ather Akbari, Ph.D., Professor of Economics at the Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, and head of ARGEIAD. More details.

ARGEIAD, the Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity, focuses on the economic significance of immigration, diversity and aging. The center provides a platform to researchers, policymakers, policy practitioners and business organizations to exchange ideas and conduct research on these issues in a regional, national and international context.

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Abstract: “Global Mobility after the Pandemic
Covid-19 has challenged the way humanity is organizing global welfare through cooperation and the division of work. Key causes of the spread of the virus have been the conditions of human mobility and exchange. The ultimate solution had been to restrict such mobility. Among the response mechanisms were home-work and internet collaborations. What are the long term consequences after the end of the pandemic? Will this end globalization? Or cause a faster transition into the future of work? And will the pandemic ever come fully to an end? The lecture will deal with those questions. It will work out the importance of migration and mobility for the creation of human welfare and development through the law of the division of work. It will review the experiences with the “Spanish Flu”, which early in the 20th century contributed to the end of the largely globalized world existing at the time before World War I. Will history repeat? It will then study the experiences we have so far with the mobility consequences of the pandemic and which innovations are under way dealing with it. The conclusions will speculate about the consequences for the future of migration.

Selected References:

  • Bista, Krishna, Allen, Ryan M. & Chan, Roy Y. , Eds., 2021, Impacts of COVID-19 on International Students and the Future of Student Mobility. International Perspectives and Experiences, September 29, 2021. Forthcoming by Routledge.
  • Newland, Kathleen. 2020. Will International Migration Governance Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic? Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.
  • Gokhan Karabulut, Klaus F. Zimmermann, Mehmet Huseyin Bilgin and Asli Cansin Doker (2021), “Democracy and COVID-19 Outcomes”, Economics Letters (EL-Prepublication, EL-Online Appendix) Volume 203, June 2021, 109840 Open Access; free PDF.
  • ADB, OECD & ILO (2021); Labor Migration in Asia. Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis and the post-pandemic future.
  • Victoria Vernon and Klaus F. Zimmermann (2021), “Walls and Fences: A Journey Through History and Economics”, in: Kourtit, K., Newbold, B., Nijkamp, P. and Partridge, M., The Economic Geography of Cross-Border Migration, Springer, Heidelberg et al., pp. 33-54; Pre-publication version. Published.
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann, Gokhan Karabulut, Mehmet Huseyin Bilgin and Asli Cansin Doker  (2020), “Inter-country Distancing, Globalization and the Coronavirus Pandemic“, The World Economy, Vol. 43, pp. 1484-1498. OPEN ACCESS, doi:10.1111/twec.12969. PDF.
  • Zimmermann, Klaus F., Refugee and Migrant Labor Market Integration: Europe in Need of a New Policy Agenda. Presented at the EUI Conference on the Integration of Migrants and Refugees, 29-30 September 2016 in Florence. Published in: Bauböck, R. and Tripkovic, M.,  The Integration of Migrants and Refugees.  An EUI Forum on Migration, Citizenship and Demography, European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Florence 2017, pp. 88 – 100. Published Version of article. Published full book.
  • Zimmermann, Klaus F., La migration en faveur du développement: des défis aux opportunités, Revue d’Économie du Développement, 25 (2017), No. 1, 13-30. Migration for Development: From Challenges to Opportunities, Revue d’Économie du Développement, 25 (2017), No. 1, 13-30. (English Issue.) Pre-publication version (in English): GLO Discussion Paper, No. 70, 2017.


Last day & flashlights of previous days: Fourth IESR-GLO Conference on ‘Social Safety Net and Welfare Programs’ online on June 24-26, 2021. With keynote of Timothy Smeeding. Reminder.

The Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR) at Jinan University and the Global Labor Organization (GLO) are jointly organizing the Fourth IESR-GLO Virtual Conference. The conference this year is held from June 24 (Thursday) to June 26 (Saturday), 2021 through Zoom. The theme is Social Safety Net and Welfare Programs. Robert Moffitt and Timothy Smeeding are the keynote speakers. (Feng of IESR right & Zimmermann of GLO left)


Day 1; June 24:

Speakers on June 24 from the left:
Michael Christl, Jinyuan Yang, Sen Xue
Shuaizhang Feng, Robert Moffitt, Klaus F. Zimmermann
Feng Chen, Laura V. Zimmermann, Xi Chen

Day 2; June 25:


8.00-11.05 pm Beijing Time / 8:00-11.05 am New York / 1:00-4:05 pm London
JUNE 24 (Thursday). Chair: Sen Xue (IESR, Jinan University & GLO)

8.00-8.05 pm Beijing Time / 8:00-8.05 am New York / 1:00-1:05 pm London
Opening Remarks by Shuaizhang Feng (IESR, Jinan University & GLO) & Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University & GLO)

8.05-9.05 pm Beijing Time / 8:05-9.05 am New York / 1:05-2:05 pm London
Keynote Lecture: Take-up in Social Assistance Programs: Theory and Evidence
Keynote Speaker: Robert Moffitt (Johns Hopkins University)

9.05-9.35 pm Beijing Time / 9:05-9.35 am New York / 2:05-2:35 pm London
The Power of Lakshmi: Monetary Incentives for Raising a Girl
Nabaneeta Biswas (Marshall University), Christopher Cornwell (University of Georgia) & Laura V. Zimmermann (University of Georgia & GLO). Based on GLO Discussion Paper No. 888. Download PDF.

9.35-10.05 pm Beijing Time / 9:35-10.05 am New York / 2:35-3:05 pm London
Grandfathers and Grandsons: Social Security Expansion and Child Health in China
Jinyuan Yang (Virginia Tech) & Xi Chen (Yale University & GLO)

10.05-10.35 pm Beijing Time / 10:05-10.35 am New York / 3:05-3:35 pm London
Trapped in inactivity? Social Assistance and Labour Supply in Austria
Michael Christl (European Commission & GLO) & Silvia De Poli (European Commission)

10.35-11.05 pm Beijing Time / 10:35-11.05 am New York / 3:35-4:05 pm London
Does Paid Family Leave Save Infant Lives? Evidence from California
Feng Chen (Tulane University & GLO)

8.00-11.00 pm Beijing Time / 8:00-11.00 am New York / 1:00-4:00 pm London
June 25 (Friday). Policy Forum on Social Assistance Systems
Chair: Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University & GLO)

8.00-8.45 pm Beijing Time / 8:00-8.45 am New York / 1:00-1:45 pm London
Japan. Masayoshi Hayashi (University of Tokyo)
Public Assistance in Japan: Current State and Challenges

8.45-9.30 pm Beijing Time / 8:45-9.30 am New York / 1:45-2:30 pm London
South Korea. Inhoe Ku (Seoul National University)
Social Assistance in South Korea: Policy Developments, Impacts and Implications for Future Reform

9.30-10.15 pm Beijing Time / 9:30-10.15 am New York / 2:30-3:15 pm London
Germany. Alexander Spermann (FOM/Cologne, University of Freiburg and GLO)
Basic Income in Germany 1991-2021: Challenges After Reunification, Hartz Reforms and the Current Reform Debate

10.15-11.00 pm Beijing Time / 10.15-11.00 am New York / 3:15-4:00 pm London
Sweden. Björn Gustafsson (University of Gothenburg and GLO)
Social Assistance in Sweden – Provision, Recipients and Challenges

8.00-11.00 pm Beijing Time / 8:00-11.00 am New York / 1:00-4:00 pm London
JUNE 26 (Saturday). Chair: Shuaizhang Feng (IESR, Jinan University & GLO)

8.00-9.00 pm Beijing Time / 8:00-9.00 am New York / 1:00-2:00 pm London
Keynote Lecture: Poverty and Income Support Around the World: China, India and Asia in Comparative Perspective
Keynote Speaker: Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin–Madison)

9.00-9.30 pm Beijing Time / 9:00-9.30 am New York / 2:00-2:30 pm London
The Health of Disability Insurance Enrollees: An International Comparison
Enrica Croda (Ca’Foscari University of Venice & GLO), Jonathan Skinner (Dartmouth College) & Laura Yasaitis (Dartmouth College)

9.30-10.00 pm Beijing Time / 9:30-10.00 am New York / 2:30-3:00 pm London
The Unintended Effect of Medicaid Aging Waivers on Informal Caregiving
Xianhua (Emma) Zai (Ohio State University & GLO)

10.00-10.30 pm Beijing Time / 10:00-10.30 am New York / 3:00-3:30 pm London
Housing Vouchers, Labor Supply and Household Formation: A Structural Approach
Ning Zhang (University of Pittsburgh)

10.30-11.00 pm Beijing Time / 10:30-11.00 am New York / 3:30-4:00 pm London
The Structure and Incentives of a COVID related Emergency Wage Subsidy
Jules Linden (National University Ireland Galway & Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Reesarch), Cathal O’Donoghue (National University Ireland Galway), Denisa M. Sologon (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Reesarch)

Keynote speakers

Robert Moffitt on June 24; 8.00 pm Beijing Time

Robert A. Moffitt is the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics at Johns Hopkins University and holds a joint appointment at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from Brown University. His research interests are in the areas of labor economics and applied microeconometrics, with a special focus on the economics of issues relating to the low-income population in the U.S.. A large portion of his research has concerned the labor supply decisions of female heads of family and its response to the U.S. welfare system. He has published on the AFDC, Food Stamp, and Medicaid programs.

Moffitt has served as Chief Editor of the American Economic Review, Coeditor of the Review of Economics and Statistics, Chief Editor of the Journal of Human Resources, and as Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Evaluate Welfare Reform. He is currently editor of Tax Policy and the Economy.

Moffitt is also a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Past President of the Population Association of America.

Timothy Smeeding on June 26; 8.00 pm Beijing Time

Timothy Smeeding is Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He obtained his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was director of the Institute for Research on Poverty from 2008–2014 and was the founding director of the Luxembourg Income Study from 1983-2006. He was named the John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow, American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2017.

Professor Smeeding’s recent work has been on social and economic mobility across generations, inequality of income, consumption and wealth, and poverty in national and cross-national contexts.

His recent publications include: SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well Being (Stanford University Press, 2015); Monitoring Social Mobility in the 21st Century (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2015); From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012); Persistence, Privilege and Parenting: The Comparative Study of Intergenerational Mobility (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011); The Handbook of Economic Inequality (Oxford University Press, 2009); Poor Kids in a Rich Country: America’s Children in Comparative Perspective (Russell Sage Foundation, 2003); and The American Welfare State: Laggard or Leader?, (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Policy Forum on Social Assistance Systems 

June 25th: 8:pm-11pm Beijing Time/ 8:00am-11am New York / 1:00pm-4:00pm London
Chair: Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University & GLO)

  • 8:00-8:45 pm: Japan. Masayoshi Hayashi (University of Tokyo)
    Public Assistance in Japan: Current State and Challenges
  • 8:45-9:30 pm: Korea. Inhoe Ku (Seoul National University)
    Social Assistance in South Korea: Policy Developments, Impacts and Implications for Future Reform
  • 9:30-10:15 pm: Germany. Alexander Spermann (FOM/Cologne, University of Freiburg and GLO)
    Basic Income in Germany 1991-2021: Challenges After Reunification, Hartz Reforms and the Current Reform Debate
  • 10:15-11:00 pm: Sweden. Björn Gustafsson (University of Gothenburg and GLO)
    Social Assistance in Sweden – Provision, Recipients and Challenges

Masayoshi Hayashi (University of Tokyo)
Professor of Economics at the University of Tokyo, and the President of the Japan Institute of Public Finance. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada. His research interests include redistribution, taxation and fiscal federalism.

Inhoe Ku (Seoul National University)
Professor at the Department of Social Welfare, Seoul National University. He is currently working as the President of the Korean Academy of Social Welfare. His research has been focusing on poverty, inequality and social policy. 

Alexander Spermann (FOM/Cologne, University of Freiburg and GLO)
Has started his research on social assistance more than thirty years ago. After finishing his dissertation and habilitation at the University of Freiburg, he held leading positions at international research institutes (ZEW, IZA) and is currently Professor of Economics at FOM Cologne and University of Freiburg. He has been a regular contributor to the media for decades.

Björn Gustafsson (University of Gothenburg and GLO)
Professor Emeritus, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has published several papers on social assistance in Sweden. Since the 1990s he has also studied various aspects on income among Chinese households.  

From the left: Masayoshi Hayashi, Inhoe Ku, Alexander Spermann, and Björn Gustafsson

  • Organizers

Institute for Economic and Social Research, Jinan University
Global Labor Organization

  • Organizing Committee

Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO
Shuaizhang Feng, Jinan University
Sen Xue, Jinan University

  • Contact

For inquiries regarding the conference, please contact Sen Xue at General inquiries should be directed to

IESR Conference Website


Working from home and income inequality in the time of COVID-19. GLO Policy Note No. 4. By GLO Fellows Luca Bonacini, Giovanni Gallo and Sergio Scicchitano.

GLO Policy Note No. 4
Theme 2: Inequalities and labor markets
Theme 3: Future of Work

Working from home and income inequality in the time of COVID-19

A case study of Italy

by Luca Bonacini, Giovanni Gallo, Sergio Scicchitano

  • Luca Bonacini (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, GLO)
  • Giovanni Gallo (Sapienza University of Rome, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, GLO)
  • Sergio Scicchitano (National Institute for Public Policies Analysis – INAPP, GLO)

In a recent GLO Discussion Paper and just published in the Journal of Population Economics (Bonacini et al., 2021), we explore the potential consequences in labour income distribution of long-lasting increase in Working From Home (WFH) among Italian employees. Results show that an increase in WFH would be associated with an increase in the average labour income, but this potential benefit would not be equally distributed among employees. Specifically, an increase in WFH would favour male, older, high-educated, and high-paid employees. This “forced innovation” thus risks to exacerbate pre-existing inequalities in the labour market. As a consequence, this study suggests a series of policies aimed at alleviating inequality in the short run and, more importantly, that should play a rebalancing role, in the long run.

What we should know

  • To limit the number of deaths and hospitalisations due to the novel coronavirus, most governments decided to suspend many economic activities and restrict people’s freedom of mobility.
  • In this context, the opportunity to work from home (hereinafter called WFH) became of great importance, since it allows: employees to continue working and thus receiving wages, employers to keep producing services and revenues, and overall limits infection spread risk and pandemic recessive impacts.
  • Recent estimates for the US show that between February and May 2020 over one third of the labour force switched to WFH, resulting in about half of workers working remotely during the pandemic. Remote workers have quadrupled to 50% of US workforce (Brynjolfsson et al., 2020). Due to uncertainty about the duration of the health emergency and future contagion waves, the role of WFH in the labour market is further emphasized by the fact that it might become a new standard (rather than an unconventional) way of working in many economic sectors, possibly resulting in structural effects on the labour market worldwide (Baert et al., 2020).
  • Because of the WFH sudden prominence and growth, several studies recently investigated this phenomenon, especially with the objective of identifying the number of jobs that can be done remotely (Adams-Prassl et al., 2020; Dingel and Neiman, 2020; Mongey at al., 2020). However, the literature neglects potential effects of WFH on wage distribution and on income inequality in general.

What we do

  • This study is a first to show how a future increase in WFH would be related to changes in labour income levels and inequality.
  • We analyse to what extent an increase in the number of employees who have the opportunity to WFH (or at least an increase in the likelihood their professions can be performed from home) would influence the wage distribution, under the hypothesis that this WFH feasibility shift is long lasting.
  • We focus on Italy as an interesting case study because before the pandemic, the WFH practice was not widespread and it is the first Western country to adopt a lockdown of economic activities (on March 11). Barbieri et al. (2020) estimated that at least 3 million employees started to WFH because of lockdown measures, and  a large number started even earlier due to the closure of schools and universities on March 5. Moreover, Italy was the European country with the lowest share of teleworkers before the crisis (Eurofound and ILO, 2017) and, because of the pandemic, it had to face a massive increase in WFH in a very short time without precise legislation and adequate policies.
  • Our analysis relies on a uniquely detailed dataset relying on the merge of two sample surveys: the Survey on Labour Participation and Unemployment (INAPP-PLUS) for the year 2018, which contains information on incomes, skills, education level, and employment conditions of approximately 45,000 working-age Italians and the  Italian Survey of Professions (ICP) for the year 2013, which  provides detailed information on the task-content of occupations. The analysis is conducted through an influence function regression method which allows to estimate the impact of marginal changes on an outcome variable distribution (see the paper for more details on the method).

What we find

  • Employees with high WFH feasibility levels are more often female, older, highly educated, and among those living in metropolitan areas.
  • Economic sectors being characterized by greater shares of employees with high WFH feasibility are: Finance and Insurance, Information and Communications, and Other Business Services (e.g., car renting, travel agencies, employment agencies).
  • Figure 1 shows the wage gap between employees with high and low WFH feasibility and the share of WFH feasibility along the income deciles. The figure clearly shows that the wage gap is increasing along the distribution and reaches highest values in the last two decile groups, as well as the same incidence of high WFH feasibility among employees.

Figure 1 – Incidence of high WFH feasibility and wage gap in favor of employees with high feasibility levels by decile of annual income

What we suggest

WFH risks to exacerbate pre-existing inequalities in the labour market. In this respect, while during the current emergency, policies aimed at alleviating inequality in the short run (e.g. income support measures for the most vulnerable), should be implemented, long-term interventions are even more necessary in order to prevent future rise of inequalities in the labour market. These long-term policies go in three interrelated directions:

  • The necessary massive reorganisation of work, particularly in the field of reengineering of production processes based on new digital technologies and on the possibility offered in terms of work from home requires new and more widespread skills.
  • We need to promote through adequate  economic and cultural incentives, non-compulsory education for youth coming from poorer households. This would include training courses, which would play an important role in reducing future unequal distribution of benefits related to an increase of WFH opportunities, by increasing human capital and favouring its complementarities with technology.
  • Our study highlights that while most of the increase in WFH will concern women, the wage premium would be borne by male employees. In this perspective, a possible, non-exhaustive solution could be offered by policies aimed at improving work–family reconciliation, that continues  to be shouldered more significantly by  women. In particular, we stress the importance of an improving of public childcare and financial support to households with children.

Our study brings out several policy issues for tackling inequalities that will arise in the labour market because of the current pandemic in particular the more than probable  increase in Working From Home. Our results are based on Italian data, but they may be useful to policymakers in other countries as well and, in general, where COVID-19 has forced governments and businesses to rethink production processes with a more intense and stable use of WFH.


Adams-Prassl, A., Boneva, T., Golin M., Rauh C., (2020). Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock: Evidence from Real Time Surveys. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13183.

Baert, S. Lippens, L. Moens, E. Sterkens, P. Weytjens, J. (2020), How do we think the COVID-19 crisis will affect our careers (if any remain)?, GLO Discussion Paper, No. 520, Global Labor Organization (GLO), Essen.

Barbieri, T., Basso, G., Scicchitano, S., (2020). Italian Workers at Risk during the COVID-19 Epidemic, GLO Discussion Paper, No. 513, Global Labor Organization (GLO), Essen.

Bonacini, L., Gallo, G. & Scicchitano, S. (2021). Working from home and income inequality: risks of a ‘new normal’ with COVID-19. J Popul Econ 34, 303–360.

Brynjolfsson, E., Horton, J. Ozimek, A. Rock, D. Sharma, G. and Yi Tu Ye, H. (2020). Covid-19 and remote work: An early look at U.S. data. NBER Working Paper 27344.

Dingel, J. I. and B. Neiman (2020). How many jobs can be done at home? Journal of Public Economics 189, 104235.

Eurofound and the International Labour Office (2017), Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, and the International Labour Office, Geneva.

Mongey, S., Pilossoph, L., Weinberg. A., (2020). Which Workers Bear the Burden of Social Distancing Policies?. NBER Working Paper No. 27085.

Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.
Featured image: Charles-Deluvio-on-Unsplash


GLO and Includovate join forces

Kanika Joshi, Head of Partnerships and Communications, Chicago/USA, of Includovate, and Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO President, recently met to discuss perspectives of collaboration between both organizations with strongly overlapping objectives. Includovate joins the set of institutional supporters of GLO; GLO does the same for Includovate. Elena Nikolova, Mauritius, Includovate‘s Quantitative Research Director, is a long-term GLO Fellow and contributor to various GLO research activities.

Includovate is a research incubator that designs solutions for inequality and exclusion among other areas. Includovate was established in 2019 to address an identified gap in the market: namely the development of participatory and innovative methodologies to understand the root causes of social exclusion and to develop change processes to support organizations, sectors and communities to tackle these challenges. Includovate relies on an extensive pool of talented experts – anthropologists, human geographers, sociologists, economists, evaluators, health specialists, and gender and inclusion researchers delivering robust research, conducting evaluations and building capacity for gender equality and social inclusion research and practice. Includovate is 100% female owned and headquartered in Ethiopia and Australia.


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


Azita Berar on ‘From “Future of Work” to “Building Better”: 2021, the year of a Global Policy Rethink ?’ GLO Policy Brief No. 4.

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. 4 – Theme 3. Future of Work – Covid-19

From “Future of Work” to “Building Better”: 2021, the year of a Global Policy Rethink ?

by Azita Berar

A year ago, 2019 ended with a pick in analyses, forecasts and policy debates on what the “Future of Work” would or should look like. Hopes and fears were expressed  about the implications of the latest technological innovations , labelled  “Industry 4.0”, for labour markets and more fundamentally for society and humanity. It is bewildering to see how, in less than 10 months, since the onset of  the COVID-19 pandemic as a global threat, the center of focus of both analysis and policy has radically shifted to  entrenched inequalities and vulnerabilities and the deep running fault lines in our political and economic systems.

As 2020 closed down, we submit that the COVID-19 crisis has done more in generating a new momentum for paradigm shift and for indicating the avenues for a social reconstruct than all the preceding years of analysis, forecasts and policy negotiations around the Future of Work.


What we should know

  • 2019 ended with a flurry of publications, national and international policy discussion on the “Future of Work” engaging  multiple stakeholders. These discussions had started mid-decade, triggered by the rapid acceleration in a new and – some argued, radically different- generation of technological innovations. [1] Hopes were raised by limitless opportunities that these frontier innovations could bring to all sectors of economy, work and life. Fears concerned “externalities”, in particular regarding the potential job destruction  and displacement effects of these technologies as well as the slow pace with which, new norms of governance, including  cross-border rules, were developed. The new social construct was lagging far behind the pace of technological innovations and their adoption in advanced and emerging economies.
  • A year later, as 2020 has closed, it is astounding to see the tremendous shift in perspective and policy debate. The COVID-19 pandemic humbled the humanity by exposing its fragility on a planetary scale. It left no aspect of life and no sector of the economy unaffected. The pandemic is still raging,  forcing continuous reevaluation of human losses and multi-faceted political, social, economic and emotional fallouts. In this Brief, we are not focusing on the sobering and evolving socio-economic impact [2], but on what is certain: the powerful revelatory impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has already had in 2020.
  • The pandemic shed light- like no other crisis before- on the deep running inequalities and vulnerabilities within societies and across countries and continents. By accelerating pre-existing trends and  exposing  the fault lines on a scale and in such a compelling manner that left no room for denial, the crisis brought to the fore, the inadequacy of policy paradigms, the need for alternative policy approaches and the quest for a better and fairer world.
  • The unfulfilled promises of globalization, the environmental exhaustion, the rising inequalities in distribution of wealth and income, the crisis of full and decent employment in all of its facets, as much as the persisting structural discriminations based on gender, race, refugee or migrant status, were not a revelation per se. These trends have been well documented and discussed in policy and experts’ circles, over the years. In 2020,  since and as the result of the global spread of COVID-19, the statistics and data buried in numerous analytic and policy reports came to life and wore  human faces, making  it an everyday visible reality for everyone across the globe.
  • The pandemic showed the insecure work and life patterns of those women and men  who work in  the informal economy, 62 percent of the global workforce, who cannot exercise social distancing, apply basic hygiene preventive rules, access health services, or stop work under conditions of lockdown, with no access to alternative income support  and safety nets. School closures vividly exposed, the deep divides in access to quality education and to digital technology for millions of children and students enrolled at all levels of education.
  • It was sobering to observe that in 2020, the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the first World Conference on Women and the launch of a most comprehensive platform of action for promoting gender equality, women  in advanced and developing economies alike, remained the default unpaid care takers at home, and occupied most of “essential” frontline occupations in underpaid sectors with part time and insecure contracts.
  • Youth who have not fully recovered from the employment crisis in the wake of 2008/09 global crisis, have been once more, massively  impacted, this time with a twin challenge of completing their education under conditions of lockdown, and  facing the prospect of  another protracted transition and stalled mobility into work, adulthood and autonomy.
  • Positive trends recorded in some of global indicators of the 2030 SDG agenda, such as reduction in poverty, hunger and malnutrition have  reversed course, with a huge humanitarian crisis looming in the horizon.
  • But the pandemic also brought the “Future of Work” faster and closer to home. The expansion of remote and online work, pointed to a new dualism in the labour markets,  jobs that can be performed remotely and online and those renamed- essential services and critical jobs – that could not. The expansion of online teleworking , beyond the flexibility and resilience it enables, is forcing managers and employees alike to re-consider the value of inter-personal and social interactions and to re-think the nature of future workplace arrangements.
  • As demand expanded exponentially for the digital delivery sector and other on-demand services, the pandemic exposed the ambiguity in the   prevailing business models and employment relationships in these sectors.  In some instances, this increased visibility of these types of  new non-standard forms of employment accelerated the adoption and  implementation of new legal and social protection norms including rise in minimum wages.
  • More significantly, the COVID-19 crisis, by laying bare inequalities and socio-economic divides of various types, questioned the fundamental underpinnings  of policies and policy paradigms enacted over last decades, that allowed and deepened such uneven and unfair outcomes. In short, the pandemic diffused across societies, a new sense of urgency and a moral imperative for a rethink of policy.

Will 2021 be the inflection point to unleash and accelerate such a paradigm shift?

  • 2020 was an exceptional year of reflection  and soul-searching on what is essential and critical to humans? On the relationship between humans, nature and science? What determines resilience to future shocks and what scope should there be for national sovereignty,  and for inter-dependence, solidarity and cooperation?
  • Exceptional measures and  massive stimulus packages, were announced and partially deployed in major economies,  to deal with the most immediate impact of the pandemic and to prevent a catastrophic socio-economic collapse. These measures were exceptional  not only in size, surpassing tens of Trillion dollars already in June 2020, but also in the range and types of policy levers used. There was not much hesitation to push aside stringent prudential rules introduced by the same economies and institutions with respect to the debt to GDP ratio, or the time limit for the debt payments, for example. [3]
  • Beyond immediate relief and recovery packages, calls to “Reset Capitalism”, “Renew the social contract”, reinvent solidarity, rethink public- private cooperation…. are emanating from diverse stakeholders with often diverging interests. More significantly, the importance of  interventionist role of the state in sustaining the economy and jobs and in leading environmental transitions, is rehabilitated and valued. The demand for a stronger role of public policy and  public investment in health, education, universal social protection, basic income have resurfaced to the top of mainstream policy debate and agenda.
  • The serious consideration in policy circles and political campaigns, of  New Green Deal proposals, Public  Job Guarantee schemes , local community development strategies in the United States alone, is a testimony of the extent to which, the pendulum has swung away from orthodox market fundamentalism.  Although these ideas are not new, they have  come out of background, gained in vigor and adherence in a short period of time.
  • It is yet early to judge, how far and how bold will the recovery plans go and what will be the scope of this “rethink”, beyond remedial and recovery responses. Will  recovery plans, as announced and promised, become accelerators of digitalization and  transition to low carbon economy and embed fiscal policies that promote greater equality and “just transitions”? 
  • Are these circumstantial  crisis-induced responses that will deflate once the health hazard and the ensuing economic recession are seen to have been brought  under control? Will once again, reform be stalled and austerity replace stimuli, as in the aftermath of 2008/9 crisis.  Or will it be really different this time, as more and more parties think that a return to status quo ante is not an option, and the future cannot be about building back but building better and different!

Will 2021 be seen as an inflection point as much as 1945 ushered a new era of social innovation and reconstruct, following the devastation of the second World War?

  • In the current global political context of divided societies, weakened democracies, growing mistrust in institutions and fragmented multilateralism, the odds for a collective political will to emerge and to lead a new wave of reform, may not seem very high.  However the pandemic and its consequences have also awakened and re-mobilized forces of citizenship, advocates of participatory and solidary development and democracy and re-invigorated labour and social movements. These factors combined have generated such high  demands and societal expectations that cannot be left unanswered and  are not ready to recede.
  • Paradigm shifts do not occur overnight, however the COVID-19 crisis by sweeping away with such speed a few more myths associated with market fundamentalism and unleashed globalization, has brought us so much closer to the imperative and possibility of  building a new social trust.

The year 2020 has closed with the pandemic still ravaging lives, economies and societies across the globe. Humanity is entering 2021 with the renewed  hope in science and in new vaccines- which signal that the end of this pandemic might be in sight- but uncertain about how far away and at what cost. More significantly, the COVID-19 crisis has re-ordered our value system and reshaped the policy debate  by pointing out that  the problem is not technology but the deep political, economic and social divides. The shock and response have created a new momentum for a fundamental policy rethink and action in a way that all the preceding discussions on the Future of Work had not succeeded.  Will the momentum be seized? What is certain is that 2021 will be looked at as the inflection year, where a new course seemed possible through a broad understanding of human agency, embracing multi-layered social mobilizations and political leaderships.

[1] The Policy Brief No. 1 on Automation, inequality and jobs, in this Policy Forum, included references to major reports on Future of Work published since 2013. It also highlighted that most analyses overlooked the specific dynamics of technological adoption and labour markets in low income countries with large swaths of rural and informal economy workers.
[2] For regular updates and estimates see the following websites: COVID-19 Worldwide Dashboard – WHO Live World Statistics: Socio-economic impact of COVID-19 | UNDP; ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. 6th edition.
[3] It should be noted however that this flexibility, sits in sharp contrast to the  lack of solidarity and international financial support to fiscal policies in particular, in middle-income developing countries. Coordinated stimuli response and use of multilateral institutional mechanisms have been disappointing. In particular the combined response of G20, World Bank and IMF are falling short of providing the financial and fiscal space needed for an adequate COVID-19 response in much of mid-income developing countries.

NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.


Ewa Björling, Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, Magnus Lodefalk & Fredrik Sjöholm on ‘COVID-19 and the Consequences for Free Trade’. GLO Policy Brief No. 3.

GLO Policy Brief No. 3 – Special theme: COVID-19 and policy implications

COVID-19 and the Consequences for Free Trade

Ewa Björling, Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, Magnus Lodefalk & Fredrik Sjöholm

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global trade, investment and value chains. There is a risk that newly imposed barriers to international trade and mobility will become permanent. Research shows that veiled protectionism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic would be associated with greater risks and impede the economic recovery needed to avoid a new economic depression. We argue that failing to reboot free trade and to restore global value chains could aggravate an already difficult and delicate situation in regard to global economic development and poverty reduction. In order to reboot globalization, however, there needs to be a new approach. Simply going over old ground would be insufficient.

  • Ewa Björling, MD, Associate Professor of Virology, Sweden’s Minister for Trade 2007-2014.
  • Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, PhD, CEO of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
  • Magnus Lodefalk, PhD, Associate Professor of Economics, Örebro University; Ratio Institute, Sweden; and Fellow of the Global Labor Organization.
  • Fredrik Sjöholm, PhD, Professor of International Economics, Lund University, and the Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Sweden.

What we should know

  • Restrictions and lockdowns to address the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted international markets and global value chains. The travel and trade restrictions imposed by many countries are extreme and unusual both in nature and their implementation, wreaking havoc on global trade and investment flows. These restrictions have been adopted despite lack of evidence of their effectiveness. Some measures go against the guidance by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Protectionism and anti-globalization tides have been rising already before the COVID-19 pandemic, with Brexit and the China-U.S. trade war, as two examples. The policy response to the pandemic now risks to make the situation worse and constitutes a major disruption to global trade, investment and value chains. Early economic indicators suggest that this disruption is severely hurting growth and employment (Gopinath 2020).
  • Global poverty and inequality are grounds for justifiable concerns. Research suggests that failing to ensure free and predictable markets would be associated with significant risks to poverty and inequality.
  • Many policies to combat the coronavirus pandemic are actually causing both short-term problems for fighting the pandemic, as well as risks in regard to economic recovery, employment, development and poverty reduction over the medium and long term (Evenett 2020, Hoekman et al 2020, Zimmermann et al. 2020).
  • Difficulties in getting supplies of medical equipment have triggered an increased interest in de-globalizing value chains (Miroudot 2020). Already before the pandemic, companies and countries were considering a regionalization or even a nationalization of global value chains. This due to a more adverse trade policy environment, rising wages in manufacturing strongholds and technological advances, e.g., in automation.

The state of free trade in the wake of COVID-19

  • Unilaterally imposing high travel and trade barriers creates uncertainty for exporters and importers of goods and services, as well as for foreign investors. Research indicates that uncertainty about the stability of the rules of the game has a major negative impact on trade and investment, beyond the barriers imposed by the rules themselves (see, e.g., Handley and Limao 2013).
  • Temporary policies risk becoming permanent. They could become precedents for trade barriers and unilateralism in the future.
  • Asymmetric timing for when countries reopen and assymetric epidemiological strategies, pose real risks of triggering protectionism (Bown 2020). For example, when one country is back to full production and shipping, countries that still have not reopened their economies will likely face rising pressure to ‘protect’ domestic businesses.
  • Less-developed countries are more exposed to the risks associated with a failure to reboot and revitalize international trade, investment and value chains. They often face additional difficulties in handling the pandemic itself because of their relatively weaker health care systems. Existing and new trade barriers, such as export restrictions on medical products and food, will exacerbate this situation (Hoekman et al. 2020). Moreover, capital is now fleeing from poor to richer countries. The poorest and most debt-ridden countries can thus be hit twice in the form of the pandemic, and globalization in reverse.

A reboot and a new approach to globalization is needed

  • In the short term, a coordinated approach among the major economies on measures to address both the pandemic and its economic consequences are needed. A first step should be to tear down the border and trade barriers put up in the wake of the pandemic (Stellinger et al 2020).
  • In the short to medium term, it is necessary to formulate a strategy to reduce the risks from asymmetric timing in reopening and from differences in the fight against the pandemic.
  • A head-on measure would be to introduce a new free trade and investment agreement that abolish all tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other equipment used to prevent or combat pandemics (Bown 2020b, Stellinger et al 2020).
  • Business leaders should act to encourage more resilient and sustainable global value chains, for example by having more suppliers, warehouses and using modern technology to monitor the chains and their resilience in real time (Miroudot 2020). This would be a win-win for the climate and for economic growth.
  • Governments must refrain from top-down attempts to address current and future difficulties of getting supplies by reshoring production of various goods and services (Stellinger et al. 2020). There is ample research on the harmfulness of import-substitution policies.
  • In the longer term, countries need to safeguard both global health and prosperity through common strategies and commitments, concrete measures for future crises and mechanisms for consultations. New and even more serious pandemics cannot be excluded. Countries will have to be able to act quickly, in a coordinated fashion and in a transparent way.
  • A new approach is needed to reboot and revitalize globalization, with the aim to design a system which reduces the risk of both pandemics and protectionism.
  • Mechanisms for applying and enforcing stringent requirements on countries to live up to standards and obligations put in place to minimize the risk of pandemics should be evaluated.
  • The concept of sustainability within the global trading system could be extended to encompass not only environmental and social aspects, but also aspects that more clearly impact public health and epidemiological risks. Increased cross-institutional links between bodies such as the WHO and the WTO should also be created to promote knowledge exchange and technical assistance.

The policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted international markets. However, simply restoring free trade would mean ignoring massive human suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new approach is needed to reboot and revitalize globalization, with the aim to design a system which reduces the risk of both pandemics and protectionism. Leaders and policymakers must make concerted efforts to: carefully lift restrictions on travel and trade while protecting health; commit to liberalize essential trade  for fighting pandemics; address how to deal with calls for protecting domestic industries in the presence of asymmetric economic reopening; and sustain international yet resilient value chains. The aim should be to develop the international trading system to both reduce the risks of pandemics and protectionism.


Bown, C. (2020a). “COVID-19 could bring down the trading system: How to stop protectionism from running amok.”, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2020.

Bown, C. (2020b). “How the G20 can strengthen access to vital medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19.”, Trade and Investment Policy Watch, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Evenett, S. (2020). “Sickening your neighbor: Export restraints on medical supplies during a pandemic.”, VoxEU, CEPR.

Gopinath, G (2020). “The Great Lockdown: Worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”, IMF.

Handley, K. and N Limao (2013). “Does policy uncertainty reduce economic activity? Insights and evidence from large trade reforms.”, VoxEU, CEPR.

Hoekman, B.M., Fiorini, M. and A. Yildirim (2020). “Export restrictions: a negative-sum policy response to the COVID-19 crisis.”, EUI RSCAS Working Paper 2020/23.

Miroudot, S. (2020). “Resilience versus robustness in global value chains: Some policy implications.” in Baldwin, R.E. and S.J. Evenett (eds.) (2020). COVID-19 and trade policy: Why turning inward won’t work. eBook, CEPR Press.

Stellinger, A., Berglund, I. and H. Isakson (2020). “How trade can fight the pandemic and contribute to global health.” in Baldwin, R.E. and S.J. Evenett (eds.) (2020). COVID-19 and trade policy: Why turning inward won’t work. eBook, CEPR Press.

Zimmermann, K.F., Karabulut, G., Bilgin, M.H. and A.C. Doker (2020). “Inter-country distancing, globalization and the coronavirus pandemic“, The World Economy, OPEN ACCESS, forthcoming. PREPUBLICATION VERSION

NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.

More from the GLO Coronavirus Cluster


Reflections of the Jordanian Poet Hisham Bustani on the Coronacrisis. An Interview.

The world still struggles about a convincing strategy to handle the #coronavirus crisis. The taken measures may have helped to contain the development, but generate also very serious challenges for the longer future of the planet and global solidarity. The award-winning Jordanian author Hisham Bustani has been interviewed to provide his insights, requests and visions.

Some core messages of the interview:

  • The panic of the emergency situation eliminates any possibility to conduct the necessary discussions about the major failures, witnessed so far, of a “system” that has been taken for granted, unquestioned, for too long.
  • The measures taken in Jordan have succeeded so far to keep the spread of COVID-19 slow and manageable.
  • As a remedy to the future, a rapid detachment from the global economy should get underway initiating modes of production aimed at local needs, food security and sufficiency, in place of export-oriented “growth” strategies that serve banks and financial elites, not people.
  • The main challenge is to reconsider the “system” that governs human existence on this planet, and put forward, and struggle for, a more just alternative.
  • The current experience will be part of my future writing: The destructive presence of humans on Earth is one of the main areas of my literary exploration.
  • A sense of doom is very present now, along with eye-opening experiences of solidarity, collectiveness, and modesty in front of nature’s might and immensity.

Hisham Bustani is an award-winning Jordanian author of five collections of short fiction and poetry. His fiction and poetry have been translated into several languages, with English-language translations appearing in prestigious journals including The Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, The Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, World Literature Today, and The Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly. His fiction has been collected in The Best Asian Short Stories, The Ordinary Chaos of Being Human: Tales from Many Muslim Worlds, The Radiance of the Short Story: Fiction From Around the Globe among other anthologies. His book The Perception of Meaning (Syracuse University Press, 2015) won the University of Arkansas Arabic Translation Award. Hisham is the Arabic fiction editor of the Amherst College-based literary review The Common and was the recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Fellowship for Artists and Writers in 2017.


GLO: The corona crisis has reached Jordan late on March 15 and the intensity of the disease is still low. How much is public life in your country nevertheless affected  by the coronavirus debate and how do you judge the situation?

Hisham Bustani: Like everywhere else around the world, nothing is in the discussion and in the news except COVID-19, mainly in the crude form of statistics, more statistics, and even more statistics – the number of infected people, the number of those who died, and to a lesser extent, the number of those cured.  

Although this might be a good way to raise awareness about the seriousness of the disease, and the calamity of the situation (thus stressing the importance of personal preventive measures and social distancing), the fever of numbers and the panic of the emergency situation eliminates any possibility to conduct the necessary discussions about the major failures, witnessed so far, of a “system” that has been taken for granted, unquestioned, for too long.

One can observe that the “free market”, “capitalist globalization”, and the reign of corporations and financial institutions was not just ineffective in dealing with the pandemic (among many other things), but costs tremendous human lives and suffering. This “system” is incapable of functioning in emergencies and is continuously in need of being bailed out with taxpayer’s money instead of bailing out the people themselves. As matters get worse, they get contained with intensive “socialist” remedies, imposed through government-led measures, and intensive government intervention, the exact opposite of the neoliberal doctrines vigorously promoted around the world since the 1980s.

One can observe that the most important people around the world today are not the CEOs of transnational corporations and their incompetent politicians, but the massive army of underpaid public health professionals and other low-paid laborers who are maintaining the necessities of life and survival.

One can observe that what really matters are not useless, valueless, glamor commodities but food essentials, ventilators, and a universal health system for all.

One can observe that the reversal of catastrophic pollution levels is attainable, and desirable results can be achieved in extremely short periods.

One can observe that “collaborative” institutions (like the European Union) have failed their “internal” test as each member state scrambled to contain its own situation, leaving other deeply-affected countries (like Spain and Italy) without help; the only efficiency they can claim is mediating and concentrating power, while during a pandemic: allies are no longer allies but cutthroat competitors for the acquisition of medical supplies and test kits.

While a curfew situation is being imposed in Jordan, as well as in many countries around the world, and while health carers are on the frontlines of confronting the pandemic, doing whatever they can to save lives in haphazard field hospitals erected in boulevards and piazzas; these are the observations that should provide food for thought, the material for a deep public discussion, possibly contributing to initiating another future for us humans, our ways and governing systems, after the disease.

GLO: How did your country initially reacted to the new threat, beyond the many others you already have: development, conflict and peace, and refugees?

Hisham Bustani: In Jordan, the governmental response was rapid and radical. A strict lockdown was imposed for a number of days starting March 21, eased later to a 6pm-10am curfew period while allowing people to go out during the day to purchase necessary items. Cars and not allowed to move except with special permits. The twelve governorates that comprise Jordan are isolated from each other and movement between them is banned. Flights in and out of the country were stopped, all borders closed down, and the last group of people who entered the country (more than 5000) were quarantined in hotels for two weeks.

These measures have succeeded so far at keeping the spread of COVID-19 slow and manageable. The country’s resources, and its political and societal composition cannot bear the consequences of the sort of health sector collapses witnessed in countries like Italy. The majority of Jordanians have been cooperative and collaborative. Except for a massive wave of shopping craze on March 20, just before the lockdown, things quickly returned to a quasi-normal state: grocery shops, bakeries and pharmacies reopened, shortly followed by banks, but all under strict conditions of social distancing and infection control. There are investigation teams that promptly identify and test people who were in contact with any infected person. The only missing element is wide scale testing, simply because test kits are not available, and the limited global supply is snatched by bigger, more powerful countries, sometimes through crooked ways.

There has been an upside to this lockdown situation: in addition to the extended calm and quite, the slowed-down pace of life, the cleaner air, and the reintroduction of walking as a daily routine, a rapid reorientation towards producing for local needs and necessities got under way, signalling that models of need-based self-sufficiency are more important than export-oriented models of massive consumption.

I am not sure what the future holds since many of the more-vulnerable segments of the population received a direct blow: daily workers ended up with no income at all, many employees were, or will be, laid off, and as the lockdown continues, people will become short of money needed to buy food and necessities as they spend their meagre savings.

However, the economic collapse and its effects will be global rather than local, it will happen either way, and I am happy that Jordanian decision makers (so far, and in a rare occurrence) have chosen people over the economy. As a remedy to the future situation, a rapid detachment from the global economy should get underway (there is an excellent window of opportunity to do this), initiating modes of production aimed at local needs, food security and sufficiency, in place of export-oriented “growth” strategies that serve banks and financial elites, not people.

GLO: It seems that the virus has crowded out currently most other major challenges in the world. Rightly or wrongly, there is debate about how large the virus threat really is; but the substantial lockdowns of the economies in most countries will reduce the possibilities to deal with the old challenges when they come back to the table soon. How will your society perceive this challenge?

Hisham Bustani: The main challenge in my society, and probably all other societies around the world, is to reconsider the “system” that governs human existence on this planet, and put forward, and struggle for, a more just alternative.

The COVID-19 experience illuminated for us what is necessary for life, and how destructive those unnecessary elements can be.

The COVID-19 experience showed us how economic concepts based on profit are unable to deal with global human emergencies.

The COVID-19 experience taught us that economic considerations should never come before people-nature nexus, and that the former can be easily compelled to serve the well-being of the latter.

The challenge is to maintain and develop those insights after everything goes back to “normal”.

GLO: War refugees in particular will receive in the future even lower support of the world to fight sources and misery. Countries like Jordan will have to expect further challenges. What do you think is our role as scientists, writers and poets in the corona crisis?

Hisham Bustani: The main role is to expose the hypocrisy and double standards of what goes on in the world today. Example: colonialist Europe has plundered the wealth of the global south, leaving their societies crippled and poor, and then unleashed upon them interventionist wars, interventionist politics and interventionist economics, burying them further into debt, corruption and tyranny, and once people started fleeing this doomed fate to that same Europe, now self-designated as “the bastion of human rights”, they were faced (in most, but not all instances) with barbwires, teargas, truncheons, and racism, left to drown in the Mediterranean.

It is quite revealing that a country like Jordan, with an area of 89,000 square kilometres, of which 75% is a desert, and a population of 9 million, has taken in what is estimated to be 1.3 million Syrian refugees as from 2011 alone, and that is not taking into consideration previous waves of Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian refugees from 1948 onwards, mostly caused by Euro-US-supported settler-colonialism (in Palestine) and Euro-US invasion and/or interventionism (in Iraq and Syria).

On top of that, Europe offers pennies as “assistance packages” for countries like Jordan to “keep the refugees put”, not allow them to move. What kind of “free world” is that? I will tell you: one that sells aggressive regimes fighter planes for billions of dollars, then sends in their “international aid agency” to finance prosthetic limbs for the victims of its raids for a fraction of a fraction of the profit.

The corona crisis has moved this “divide”, that blockade, that hypocrisy, further up north towards US-Europe itself, in the same sense that (as Sven Lindqvist explains in his book A History of Bombing) massive bombings of native communities in the colonies finally found its way into Europe in WWI and WWII.

Is it not eye opening how the US blocked the export of facemasks to Europe, or how the US, UK and many EU countries failed to take sever measures in the favour of people’s health for the sake of “maintaining the economy” and “business as usual” which basically pours profit in the pockets of the few who flew their private jets to special disaster bunkers? All this happened after neoliberalism has robbed the public sector (in the previous rampage of privatization) of its capacity act efficiently in favour of the public, leaving doctors and nurses struggling with an ever-increasing number of sick people who can’t find a hospital bed, making tough decisions on who lives and who dies because of the lack of social resources created by neoliberalism.

In response to the corona crisis, scientists, writers and poets should think about all this, think about its opposite: an egalitarian future, and the means to achieve it.

GLO: Your work as a poet and a fiction writer has been inspired by the many realities you observe. Will you soon write about the bad and good sides of humans revealed by the crisis?

Hisham Bustani: Two weeks ago, I was invited to contribute to “The Quarantine Chronicles” series, curated by Carol Sansour for The Sultan’s Seal literary e-zine, I obliged by writing “Eyes Without a Face”, a literary text that explores the manifestations created by, and the consequences left behind, the compulsory quarantine: its tragedies, catastrophes, farces, and hopes. The title is inspired by a Billy Idol song with the same name that was playing in the background, the singer making a special appearance in the piece, telling me (from yet another of his songs): “There is nothin’ fair in this world, nothin’ safe, nothin’ sure, nothin’ pure. Look for something left in this world.” “I think about those long held in an indefinite quarantine in refugee camps, prisons and shantytowns,” I wrote in response.

I am sure this experience will be part of my future writing, especially that the destructive presence of humans on Earth is one of the main areas of my literary exploration; examples of this can be found, for example, in my book: The Perception of Meaning.

I’ve written about war and its deeper effect on sanity (as in the short stories: “One Moment Before the End” and “Skybar”), about human’s violence against nature, his selfishness and lack of consideration (as in the poem: “Mirror, Mirror”), the effect of urban enclosures and their continuity within an internal isolation of individuals (as in the prose/poem hybrid piece: “Voices Within”), the reproduction of enslavement in societies that uphold selfish individualism, competitiveness,  and consumption as key principal values (as in: “Starddust”), all of this leading to a general sense of doom (as represented in the poem: “Apocalypse Now”, after Francis Ford Coppola’s film of the same name, which is based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness).

This sense of doom is very present now, along with eye-opening experiences of solidarity, collectiveness, and modesty in front of nature’s might and immensity. This makes my literary work more relevant than any other time before. It makes art (as juxtaposed to “entertainment”) more relevant than before, since art is all about diving deep, contemplating, and opening up questions: the unleashing of creative possibilities within the recipient, things that entertainment has killed and replaced with passivity and idleness, undermining the “human condition” even more.

With Hisham Bustani spoke Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO President on April 9, 2020. Both have been Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellows in 2017.
Further activities and reports of the GLO Research Cluster on the coronavirus.

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash


Life with Corona Study: ISDC invites survey participation.

The Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the COVID-19 disease continue to spread across the world. A new Life with Corona study will provide valuable information for researchers studying the social and economic implications of the Coronavirus pandemic.
LINK to the survey website.

The project is led by GLO Fellow Tilman Brück and his International Security and Development Center (ISDC) in Berlin. ISDC and its Director Tilman Brück are long-term partners of the GLO. GLO congratulates ISDC and Director Brück for this important new initiative at difficult times.

Life with Corona Study 

Have you heard of the new Life with Corona Study?

It is an innovative citizen science project that will help us understand how the Corona crisis is changing our lives. The findings will deliver important insights for policy-makers and researchers into how to better manage and mitigate the crisis.

Based on cutting-edge methodologies, the survey captures the voices and sentiments of citizens around the world.

Be part of the survey now! Just fill in the questionnaire and please forward this call in your networks. The more people participate, the more we know!

#sharethesurveynotthevirus #lifewithcorona

LINK to the survey website.


CORONA Work Life Survey announced by WageIndicator Foundation

Amsterdam, 29 March, 2020. The WageIndicator Foundation announces the Continuous Global Online Survey ‘Living and Working in Corona Times’! Press Release.

The WageIndicator Foundation led by GLO Fellow Paulien Osse as the Director, is a long-term partner of the GLO. GLO congratulates the WageIndicator Foundation for this important new initiative at difficult times.

Continuous Global Online Survey ‘Living and Working in Corona Times’ 

WageIndicator shows coronavirus-induced changes in living and working conditions in 110 countries. The changes are visualized in maps and graphs. These infographics show, from day to day, the consequences the large majority of the working population of the world experiences, on the basis of answers on the following questions in the Corona survey:

– Is your work affected by the corona crisis?
– Are precautionary measures taken at the workplace?
– Do you have to work from home?
– Has your workload increased/decreased?
– Have you lost your job/work/assignments?

First results show an enormous impact of the coronavirus on work in general. In the Netherlands for instance, a country severely hit, 95 percent of participants in the survey state that their work is impacted by the corona-crisis.

The survey contains questions about the home situation of respondents as well as about the possible manifestation of the corona disease in members of the household. Also the effect of having a pet in the house in corona-crisis times is included.

WageIndicator – a respected partner of GLO –  is a non-profit foundation, which aims to share and compare wages and labour law on a global scale through its national websites in 140 countries with millions of web visitors. WageIndicator’s web visitors are invited to complete the survey on Living and Working in Corona Times. The survey reaches out to all people in working age, contracted, self-employed and unemployed alike.

WageIndicator’s online infrastructure is built up over the past two decades and consists of online and offline surveys and data collection. For this particular survey, the international WageIndicator team cooperates with academic research institutes from half a dozen countries. The survey asks the same questions across countries. Therefore WageIndicator is able to closely monitor the development of the corona crisis and its impact on the world of work.

WageIndicator has rolled out its survey on March 26, 2020. From March 31 onwards WageIndicator maps changes in 110 countries, shown permanently online and updated each day.

Crucial links:
For the list of participating countries. Do the survey and find the results!
Link project page and team.
+31 6 539 77 695


Interview with GLO Fellow Dejan Kovač: After the Race for President of Croatia

In 2019, Dejan Kovač, GLO fellow and a former postdoc at Princeton University, left his position in the US and joined the presidential race in Croatia as a candidate. He did not become the president of Croatia, but in his campaign he highlighted the need for structural reforms, promoted civic and economic freedoms, and most importantly attacked corruption relying on his previous research experience.

Besides his research on corruption, Dejan Kovač is taking another promising research endeavor – rethinking the design of Croatia’s labor market to increase its global competitiveness.

In 2017, the Global Labor Organization (GLO) had supported a large international conference Dejan Kovač had organized in Umag to debate the challenges of the global world for labor markets.  The event was hosting some of the best labor economists of our time, including the former chief economist  to president Obama, the late Alan Krueger, a legendary figure and GLO Fellow (see picture below).


GLO: The scientist and politics: How has the presidential campaign changed you?

Dejan Kovač: Before the campaign I was an economist, during the campaign I remained an economist, and after the campaign I am still an economist.

GLO: Was knowledge of economics and of scientific evidence helpful for you during the race?

Dejan Kovač: Not really. Presidential races in Croatia historically have a problem. This is not a competition about the better program, but rather about to what part of the political spectrum one belongs. I was not able to push any economics topic, because we are still trapped by tales from our history and historical revisionism. It is very unfortunate that there is so little voters’ awareness about the importance of particular topics. Especially because Croatia “lost” close to 10% of its population through emigration due to several main issues: high corruption, bad economic conditions and lack of structural reforms.

GLO: Is emigration the main motivation for your newly started project “Designing Croatia’s labor market for global competitiveness” or are there other important issues at play?

Dejan Kovač: The 10% loss of population is a great shock to our economy. One does not have to have a PhD in economics to realize that this will have a detrimental  effect on  GDP. A larger problem than size is the issue of “brain drain” not only in Croatia, but in the entire region. High-skilled workers are leaving and they would otherwise contribute the most to economic growth. Another problem of our labor market is that the  entire education system is not adequate to satisfy domestic labor market needs and especially global trends.

GLO: What is wrong with Croatia’s education system?

Dejan Kovač: Quotas are such that we are “over-producing” some occupations, which we realistically do not need, while we lack for instance STEM workers, who are “under-supplied”. This is still a residue from our past, when both skills and quantities were defined through central planning. Today not only domestic, but also global market forces are at play. Nevertheless, we have a rigid set of quotas for higher education which has not changed in a reasonable manner in decades. That is the first step to take. It is not an easy task, because redesigning the entire education system implies evaluating labor demand and supply in the future. For this we need the entire Croatia, not just a government which represents one part of the political spectrum only. Either policy makers will realize that and do the urgent structural reforms, or with the next wave of emigrations, our problems will intensify significantly.

GLO: What are decisive elements of the needed university reform and how does this relate to the vitalization of the labor market?

Dejan Kovač: Beyond quotas, we need to raise the skill levels of our workers in such a way that knowledge learned at our universities is up to date with the frontier of innovations at the labor market. We lack “intermediaries” such as incubators who can “translate” knowledge from pure theory to applied science which can be used at the labor market. Also we need to revise the entire curriculum at most universities.

With Dejan Kovač spoke Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO President.

From the left: GLO Fellows Joshua Angrist (MIT), Hank Farber (Princeton University) and Alan Krueger (Princeton University and former Chief Economist of President Obama); 2017 in Umea/Croatia.

Dejan Kovač during the election campaign 2019.


Azita Berar on ‘Youth Policies: time to change the policy narratives!’. GLO Policy Brief No. 2.

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. 2 – Theme 4. Youth Employment

Youth Policies: time to change the policy narratives!

by Azita Berar

Recent waves of unrelenting protests, in major cities around the world, express shared grievances and demands for change,  even if each has its specificities. Anger against inequalities, social injustice and corruption, and loss of trust in institutions and their leadership rekindle demands for decent job opportunities, access to quality public services, democratic participation and reform of institutions. For most observers, these protests look like a resurgence of the stalled “Arab spring”  uprisings, of the “indignados” outbursts, or of the “occupy movement” of the early years of the current decade. Then and now, multiple social-economic groups  took part in the protests. But, then and now, youth, who have particularly experienced the downward spiral in economic and social opportunities, are at the forefront of mobilizations demanding systemic changes.
The outbreaks, whatever the immediate reason that sparked each, are a reminder that the predicaments of youth transitions, in work, society and polity, brought to the fore by the 2008 global financial crisis, remain unresolved.
Reviewing the policy responses put in place in this decade, we argue for a change in the  prevailing policy narratives around youth at the national and global levels. In particular,  we advocate for: a) recognizing the structural nature of the crisis that calls for a systemic response, and b) undoing the present compartmentalization of policy responses and c) dissociating the security and development discourses whose merger prevents and disorients the search for effective solutions.

What we should know

  • The 2008 global financial and economic crisis, and the recession that it triggered, generated an unprecedented  impact on youth in labour markets, characterized then as  the “scarred generation” or “lost generation”.[1] Attention to youth employment heightened again during the Arab uprisings, which started in Tunisia in 2010 and then spread to several countries in the Middle East and North Africa.[2] Emphasis was laid first and foremost on the scale and length of youth unemployment” hitting newcomers to labour markets starting their transition from school to work. More sophisticated diagnoses applying a range of unconventional indicators of quality of jobs, revealed a more profound and pervasive youth employment crisis than that expressed in open unemployment. The lack of “decent work” was brought out. Emphasis was  laid on the millions of young women and men who have  jobs  that are unstable, temporary,  low-paid, do not give access to social protection and most importantly do not  allow for upward social mobility.
  • The latest global indicators show that youth continue to be disproportionately represented  among the informal workers,  the working poor, and the low paid workers.[3] Together with the new SDG indicator for youth who are neither in employment, education nor training (NEET), these trends monitored over a decade bring out a gradual and  steady structural deterioration in the terms and conditions of youth integration in labour markets.
  • This crisis is affecting not only the most disadvantaged or low skilled but also tertiary education graduates. It is no surprise therefore, that the Future of work is looked at with angst, including by the most educated generation of youth that the world has ever had.[4]
  • The global reach of the current youth employment crisis is unprecedented. Hardly any country in the world, across regions and levels of income, is left immune to one manifestation or another  of the predicament. The issue is of concern as much to countries where youth represent more than half of the total population as to those where ageing is advanced (Japan, Italy). It touches post-industrial disaffected cities in the Global North as much as rural and informal economies in the Global South.
  • Policy response to the 2008 crisis, short-lived coordinated macro-economic stimulation measures at the global level,[5] followed by a longer entrenched period of austerity measures, did not address issues at the core of the youth employment crisis. At best, it stabilized the situation in some countries, preventing further aggravation of the crisis and alleviating  some of the burden for the most vulnerable groups. Available studies however show that even the best did not attain the needed scale and impact.
  • Numerous youth initiatives were also launched in the current decade, by governments, including some in partnership with the private sector, and by  regional and international organizations. Reviews show that large gaps persist however, between policy announcements and actions and between  actual investments and the scale of the challenge at hand. Most actions focus on the most vulnerable and at times, on the most vocal. Few systematic and transparent evaluations are carried out of the effectiveness of implemented policies and programmes.

Time to change the policy narratives

  • Aside from the effectiveness of and accountability for different approaches and initiatives, we argue that the predominant policy narratives either misdiagnose the nature of the crises in youth transitions, or are incoherent and compartmentalized.  And sometimes, they  defeat the purpose they want to serve and add to layers of discrimination and polarization of and amongst youth. Three points are made in this regard.
  • First , the crisis has become structural. While low or negative growth episodes affect youth employment, observations since 2008, clearly confirm that the phenomenon is not only conjunctural. Fluctuations in indicators can not be explained by cycles of boom and bust and policy response to the recessions alone. The new waves of disruptive technological transformations associated with Industry 4.0 do not provide the explanation either,  since they did not yet produce a massive impact in developing economies.
  • The crisis is within the global economic model that is not delivering on social and intergenerational upward mobility. Youth are particularly exposed as new and latecomers into the labour market under highly competitive and polarizing forces. At the start of their multiple transitions in society,  youth feel most deeply the widening gap between aspirations and opportunities open to them. Their interface with the labour markets in particular shapes other transitions in the society and their vision of the institutions.
  • Recognizing the structural nature of the crisis, it is clear that anything short of a systemic “new deal”, defined at national and global levels would not measure up to the challenge. Several versions of the new deal have been recently proposed for policy debate.[6] They include green new deals or investments in the care economy that aim to stimulate the innovation and decent job creation potential, on the one hand, and the redistribution of social protections and access to services, on the other.
  • Secondly, we need to reverse the compartmentalization in youth policy narratives. Most surveys and diagnostic studies carried out in very different contexts  have pointed  to the multi-dimensional nature of the youth employment challenge in all local contexts. Yet, there is a marked preference and obstinate inclination by policy makers, public and private, to emphasize and address one factor only in each situation  to the exclusion of others. The “over-bloated” public sector employment in the Middle East and North Africa for example, or the business environment for start-ups, lack of level playing field for small and medium enterprises (SME), skills mismatches, the proliferation of tertiary education at the expense of vocational and apprenticeship schemes or youth behavior and unrealistic expectations, are among factors that are typically singled out. Such single-minded analyses have led to unifocal and distorted policy interventions,  at a time when inter-sectoral, mutually coherent and balanced diagnoses and responses are called for.
  • The third trend is the increasing securitization discourse that has taken shape in national and international contexts. Unlike in the previous narrative, where youth’s potential of creativity and innovation is constrained by the environment and/or their own misguided behavior, in this one, youth, in particular the unemployed, disenfranchised and the migrant among them, are seen as  a threat to security and public order. Hence,  responses that prioritize security, repression and exclusion which can further encroach upon rights and restrain civic and political spaces for  participation.
    Turning the securitization narrative on its head is to give space for the expression of  frustrations and to lay a rights-based platform for dialogue and for seeking positive solutions. It is the multiple insecurities that young women and men experience that should be addressed as a matter of immediate priority. 

Recent waves of mass protests in major cities show that deeply entrenched frustrations will not go away by themselves. Populations no longer accept makeshift and partial solutions. They are not ready to operate within the existing parameters of the exercise of power established by ruling elites and the institutions that serve them.
While  all generations are concerned with the range of existential questions at hand,  youth are clearly leading the civic movements claiming more inclusive and sustainable models of development and governance.
Changing the policy narratives on the role and place of youth in work, society and polity is a necessary first step in the search for real responses to their predicament.

[1] ILO, Global Employment Trends for Youth- the update, 2011.
[2] UNU-WIDER, Youth unemployment and the Arab Spring, 2011
[3] ILO, Global Employmenment Trends for Youth 2017: Paths to a better working future.
[4] UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report 2019.
[5] Except for China which sustained stimuli packages for a longer period.
[6] For example:  Marianna Mazzucatto’s « mission oriented” investment and innovation; UNCTAD, Trade and Development report 2019. Financing a Global Green New Deal; N. Klein, On Fire: The ( Burning) Case for a Green New Deal. 2019; J. Rifkin, The Green New Deal, 2019.

NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.


October 19, 2019. Youth Transitions – A Global Interdisciplinary Policy Research Conference: Geneva/Switzerland, February 20-21, 2020.

GLO is collaborating in the Organization of  The  Global Interdisciplinary Policy Research Conference on Youth Transitions, organized by the Center for Finance and Development of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, on the 20-21 February 2020 in Geneva/Switzerland.

The Conference, organized with the support of multiple partners, will bring together researchers from academia across disciplines with policy practitioners across public and private stakeholders, to  review the state of policy research and debate on youth transitions.

Multiple dimensions of youth transitions will be discussed: the crises in school to work transition  and future of work prospects for young people; youth transitions in situations of conflict and peace-building; and youth participation in civic and political spheres.

The Conference will also launch the first Global Network of Policy Research on Youth Transitions that will promote and partner for expanded  policy and research interface on priority issues.

To participate, please register at the Conference Webpage. Attendance is free, however participants will have bear their own cost of travel and accommodation. Program.

For partnerships and contributions to the debate and to the future Global Network, please contact GLO Policy Director Azita Berar by November 15, 2019.


October 8, 2019. GLO and University of Kent/UK affiliate.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) and the University of Kent (UoK) affiliate. The two organizations will support each other in their common missions on research and educational issues. UoK will provide a local platform of GLO in the UK through its School of Economics. See the announcement at the UoK website.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

The University of Kent (UoK), the UK’s European university, is a public research university based in Kent, United Kingdom. It has a rural campus in Canterbury as well as campuses in Kent and European postgraduate centers in various European cities. The University is committed to rigorous research and excellent education; it is international, with over 20,000 students from about 160 nationalities and about 40% of international academic staff. It provides GLO with a local platform in the UK.

GLO Director Matloob Piracha is Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent and Country Lead of GLO for the entire UK; he will act as Head of the local initiatives at Kent. A first joint research workshop is planned for April 2020 at Kent; a Call for Papers will appear in due course.

GLO’s Virtual Young Scholars (VirtYS) program for emerging young scholars is also headed from Kent, namely by GLO Fellow Olena Nizalova, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Kent.

The University of Kent (UoK) has become a supporting organization of GLO.


Eugenio Levi, Rama Dasi Mariani & Fabrizio Patriarca on ‘Hate at first sight only. The presence of immigrants, electoral outcomes and policy insights.’ GLO Research for Policy Note No. 3.

GLO Research for Policy Note No. 3 – Theme 10. Migration

Hate at first sight only. The presence of immigrants, electoral outcomes and policy insights.

by Eugenio Levi, Rama Dasi Mariani & Fabrizio Patriarca

Most of the studies on how electoral outcomes in Western Europe and in the US are influenced by the presence of immigrants in the neighborhood provide evidence that living in an area with a greater number of immigrants increases the probability of voting for anti-immigrant parties. The immediate policy implication would be that people want to restrict immigration tout court. But is this so?

In a recent GLO Discussion Paper and forthcoming in the Journal of Population Economics, we contribute to the debate on this topic by analyzing the dynamic aspects related to this effect. This is to investigate if policies should be concerned with the time and geographical concentration of new arrivals more than on their number and focus on integration as well as coping ability of local populations. In particular, we formulate the hypothesis that hostility toward immigration is temporary: there is “hate at first sight” only.

We focus on the 2004, 2009 and 2014 European elections in the United Kingdom, a country in which the immigration issue has been central to all of the latest electoral outcomes.  The UK Independent Party (Ukip), a party founded in 1993 by Conservatives who were cross with the EU, became a strongly anti-immigration party under the leadership of Nigel Farage. It boosted its votes from 15.6% in 2004 to 26.8% in 2014 in correspondence with an increase in the number of immigrants from 8% to 11% of the total population.

What we do.

  • We first test for a short-run effect of the presence of immigrants on votes for Ukip. In our statistical model we add to the share of immigrants the 2-year migration flows, as this is the time lag suggested by time series tests. After having verified that the appropriate statistical conditions for time consistency are satisfied, we proceed to our main analysis. Our models control for unemployment, demographic variables, and population and include specifications with fixed effects for each area and with an instrumental variable approach.
  • Previous studies on Denmark and Italy find that hostility is stronger in rural areas. Immigration to larger urban centers has generally started before immigration to more rural areas, which can explain why previous studies have found a different effect in these two different contexts. Therefore, we test if this difference is completely explained by the time path of immigration or if there is something more, maybe related to political and cultural factors.
  • We explore potential issues related to integration. Do changes in unemployment, welfare expenditures per capita or in the number of crimes explain the short-run effect of the presence of immigrants? These are very common explanations, as individuals may feel that immigrants are to be blamed for increased unemployment, for reduced access to welfare or for an increasing number of crimes.

What we find.

  • The effect of immigration on anti-immigrant votes is indeed a short-run effect. Areas where there has been an acceleration of new arrivals by 1 percentage point see an increase in votes for Ukip by 1.1-1.2 p.p.. In other words, immigration flows boost Ukip votes. In contrast, an increase of 1 p.p. in the share of immigrants corresponds to 1.7-1.9 p.p. fewer votes for Ukip.
  • There is something more to hostility in rural areas than just the time path of immigration. First, we replicate previous evidence that the long-run effect of immigration is declining by population density. Second, if we look at heterogeneity by socioeconomic characteristics, we find that the effect of immigration flows, although positive and significant in all UK, is different in magnitude across areas and reaches a peak of 2.1 p.p. in the “English and Welsh Countryside” (see Figure 1). Only in “London cosmopolitan, Suburban traits and Business and Education centres” and “Mining Heritage and Manufacturing” the share of immigrants has a negative significant effect. This further suggests that political and cultural factors may be more relevant in explaining the difference in votes across areas than the difference between urban and rural areas.
  • Looking more closely at integration issues, in areas that have diminishing welfare benefits per capita immigration flows have a stronger effect on votes for Ukip. Increase in unemployment and in crimes do not seem to matter in relation to hostility to immigration. It is to note that the coefficient of immigration flows always stays significant, suggesting that there is substantially more that is left unexplained.

Figure 1 – UKIP votes by supergroups of area: estimated coefficients and confidence intervals for immigrant share and flows.


Our findings clearly substantiate that the “hate at first sight” effect , e.g the impact of immigration on the ascent of anti-immigrant parties as the result of the short-term material consequences and/or identity reactions induced by migration flows, is indeed a temporary phenomenon. Two main policy implications follow. First, there is a need to pay closer attention to how flows are distributed over time and space: it is probably better to allow immigrants to arrive in small waves and distribute recent arrivals in a homogeneous manner and based on local political and cultural factors, rather than in large ones and concentrated in certain areas. Second, policies should focus more on integration across its cultural, social and economic dimensions. Clearly, in the long run, social forces can drive toward integration; however, policies can expedite this process. In fact, we find that the electoral impact of immigration is weaker and shortly reverted when more welfare resources become available. Therefore, policies and  resources should aim both at facilitating the integration process of migrants as well as the local population’s ability to cope with the changes.


Barone G, D’Ignazio A, De Blasio G, Naticchioni P (2016). Mr. Rossi, Mr. Hu and politics. The role of immigration in shaping natives’ voting behavior. J Public Econ 136: 1–13.

Brunner B, Kuhn A (2018). Immigration, cultural distance and natives’ attitudes Towards immigrants: Evidence from Swiss voting results. Kyklos 71(1): 28-58.

Dustmann C, Vasiljeva K, Damm AP (2018). Refugee migration and electoral outcomes. Rev Econ Stud online.

Halla M, Wagner AF, Zweimüller J (2017). Immigration and voting for the far right. J Eur Econ Assoc 15(6): 1341-1385.

Harmon NA (2018). Immigration, ethnic diversity, and political outcomes: Evidence from Denmark. Scand J Econ 120(4): 1043-1074.

Levi, E, Mariani, RD, Patriarca, F (2019). Hate at first sight? Dynamic aspects of the electoral impact of migration: the case of Ukip. GLO Discussion Paper No. 364. Journal of Population Economics online.

Otto AH, Steinhardt MF (2014). Immigration and election out-comes—evidence from city districts in Hamburg. Reg Sci Urban Econ 45: 67–79.

NOTE: Opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.


Friederike Welter & André Pahnke on: The German Mittelstand: an antithesis to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship? GLO Research for Policy Note No. 2

Since 2013, GLO Fellow Friederike Welter is head of the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn, a policy-oriented independent research institute on small business and entrepreneurship issues ( She also holds a professorship at the University of Siegen. Friederike Welter has broad experiences in applied and policy-related research on entrepreneurship and small business, much of it in an international context. She is a member of several policy-related advisory boards for federal and state ministries and for international bodies. She was President of the European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (2007-2009). For her work on small business and entrepreneurship, she has been honored as ECSB Fellow (2011), as Wilford L. White Fellow of the International Council of Small Business (ICSB, 2014) and she recently received the Greif Research Impact Award (2017). The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung regularly lists her among the most influential economists in Germany.

André Pahnke has studied economics at the Leibnitz University Hannover. First, he worked as a research fellow at the Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Nuremberg. Since 2011, Dr. Pahnke is a researcher at the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM), Bonn. His main research fields are International Comparative SME Research, Finance and Apprenticeship Training.

GLO Research for Policy Note No. 2 – Theme 3. Future of work

The German Mittelstand: an antithesis to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship?

by Friederike Welter & André Pahnke

At the international level, many policy makers, academics and business observers are interested in understanding Germany’s “secret economic weapon”, its Mittelstand. It is therefore not at all surprising that foreign officials and business people are making pilgrimages to Germany to learn from the Mittelständler. At the same time, German politicians, journalists, and entrepreneurs travel to the Silicon Valley, to learn from what they perceive to be a vibrant start-up ecosystem, fostering the seemingly endless creation of highly innovative, technology-orientated, venture capital-backed gazelles and unicorns. In meetings with policy makers, one of us is regularly asked why Germany could not have its own Microsoft, Google, Amazon or Facebook. Such statements reflect a current debate in Germany: some perceive the German Mittelstand as a low growth, low-tech and non-innovative approach while in contrast the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship is regarded as the salvation for a doomed German economy. In our recent paper (Pahnke and Welter, 2019), we therefore set out to critically review the assumption of the Mittelstand as an antithesis to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship. We suggest that future research and policies should stand back from dichotomies such as “Mittelstand versus Silicon Valley entrepreneurship” and instead acknowledge the vibrant diversity and heterogeneity of entrepreneurship.

What we should know

  • Mittelstand is not just about size. There is some confusion about the meaning of the term “Mittelstand”, not only in the media but also among academia. It is often used as a synonym to Small Medium Entreprises (SMEs). However, the small size of Mittelstand businesses is rather a by-product of other key characteristics. Mittelstand entrepreneurs should be first characterized by their independent ownership. They are typically owned by an individual or a family, who is actively involved in the strategic development and management decision-making of their companies and bears the entrepreneurial risks and liabilities of these decisions. The identity of ownership and management should therefore be seen as a key feature when studying Mittelstand ventures.
  • Mittelstand is a mindset. The ideal business model of the Mittelstand combines ownership, leadership and organizational characteristics with individual value systems and attitudes. Due to a number of positive connotations with the term “Mittelstand” in Germany, even large companies – in which the identity feature of the ownership and management is not present – still perceive themselves as Mittelstand. Therefore, emotions, passion and feelings of belonging, play an important role for understanding the Mittelstand.
  • Mittelstand is important for the economy and the society. The Mittelstand is generally considered to be the backbone of the German economy because of its economic contribution in terms of annual sales, export turnover, net value added, employment generation and apprenticeship training. Many studies illustrate, in addition, its substantial contribution to both the economy and the society. Beyond the provision of employment, goods and services, the specific ownership-management structure of the Mittelstand is associated with high levels of social, inter-generational, and regional responsibilities.
  • Mittelstand is as innovative but often in a different way. Regarding the perceived lack of “innovativeness” in Mittelstand firms in comparison to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, we argue that this is related to a narrow view of innovation. As soon as we apply a wider understanding of what constitutes innovation, the Mittelstand is by no means less innovative. Mittelstand and Silicon Valley entrepreneurship differ with respect to innovations because of different industry structures and target groups. While Silicon Valley innovations are very consumer-oriented and visible to all of us, Germany’s digital and disruptive technologies are first and foremost “deep tech” hidden in products and processes of other companies.
  • Mittelstand has different patterns of employment growth. Silicon Valley entrepreneurship is generally seen as creating many jobs in a relatively short period of time. In contrast, employment growth in Mittelstand ventures has been slower and happening over a longer period of time; although there are also gazelles in Germany. Such comparisons between the Silicon Valley and the Mittelstand are however problematic: they compare apples (a single high-growth company) to oranges (a whole segment of the German economy).

We need more, not less attention to the Mittelstand!

For obvious reasons, the Mittelstand is often seen as an exclusively German phenomenon: it has deep roots in the German history; it stands for a specific German variety of capitalism; and it is strongly influenced by previous and current institutional arrangements in Germany. In our view, however, the Mittelstand is an excellent example of every day entrepreneurship, demonstrating how entrepreneurship that builds on a deep sense of responsibility and solidarity can shape an economy and society and contribute to its world standing. In this regard, the core characteristics of the Mittelstand stand in stark contrast to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship; although one should not overlook important similarities, too. Overall, the Mittelstand is a vibrant segment of the economy. It is competitive, innovative as well as growth oriented; sometimes by other means that are less visible than the well-known uni- or decacorns from the Silicon Valley.


Berghoff, H. (2006). The End of Family Business? The Mittelstand and German Capitalism in Transition, 1949-2000. The Business History Review,

Fear, J. (2014). The secret behind Germany’s thriving ‘Mittelstand’ businesses is all in the mindset. The Conversation. 28 November 2017.

Gantzel, K.-J. (1962). Wesen und Begriff der mittelständischen Unternehmung. Abhandlungen zur Mittelstandsforschung, 4. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Gärtner, C. (2016). Deep-tech in good old Germany: digitale hidden champions. XING Insider. Accessed 28 Nov 2017.

Pahnke, A.; Welter, F. (2019): The German Mittelstand: antithesis to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship?, Small Business Economics,  52 (2), 345-358.

Ross Range, P. (2012). The German Model. Report. Handelsblatt.
/6966662.html. Accessed 28 November 2017.

Logue, D. M., Jarvis, W. P., Clegg, S., & Hermens, A. (2015). Translating models of organization: Can the Mittelstand move from Bavaria to Geelong? Journal of Management & Organization, 21(01), 17-36.

The Economist (2014). German lessons: Many countries want a Mittelstand like Germany’s. It is not so easy to copy. Accessed 28 November 2017.

NOTE: Opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.


Azita Berar on ‘ILO: Celebrating a century of international cooperation for social justice’. GLO Policy News No.1

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Azita Berar Awad is Director Policy of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), and Former ILO Director, Employment Policy

GLO Policy News No. 1 – Theme 3. Future of Work

ILO: Celebrating a century of international cooperation on the governance of labour

by Azita Berar Awad

This year is the Centenary of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Since its establishment in 1919,  by the Versailles Peace Treaty at the end of the first World War, the Organization has shown a remarkable resilience, unique amongst the multilateral institutions of global governance. Over 100 years, ILO has survived another major war. It also surfed over and navigated through  several global and regional economic and social crises and tectonic geopolitical shifts among its constituent members. Created in 1919, on the promise of sustaining peace by promoting social justice, the Centenary celebrations across the world, are a good opportunity to reflect not only on past achievements, but on the relevance of this  proposition for the future.

The Future of Work is the central theme of ILO’s Centenary deliberations. To this effect, an independent Commission composed of 27 members representing diverse interests was established in 2017 and issued its report in January 2019. The International Labour Conference, the main governance organ of the institution, bringing together governments, employers’ and workers organizations from 187 countries, will meet in June 2019 in Geneva  to draw its own conclusions in the form of a Centenary Declaration.

In this GLO Policy News, six issues drawn from a review of ILO’s rich history are highlighted. (See for a list of publications on ILO history.) They relate to the Organization’s foundational values and their evolution in a century of economic, social and technological transformations. On each issue,  we bring out key challenges, the resolution of which  will  shape ILO’s effectiveness in its second century.

What we should know

  • The ILO was born at the intersection of the twin quests for International Peace and that for Social Justice. Its foundational act, the ILO Constitution, is  Part XIII of the Peace Treaty that put an end to World War I. It was adopted by the Versailles Peace Conference on 28 April 1919. The Constitution envisioned a new international order, against a backdrop of tremendous human sufferings during World War I, widespread poverty and appalling conditions of work in most of the 19th Century and early 20th Century. The  industrial revolution had brought about progress, but also misery and injustice. Protest,  social unrest and revolution had ensued. This vision in which “lasting peace can be established only if based on social justice”, resonates strongly  a century later, for all those concerned with the rising and widening economic and social inequalities, for the left-behind of globalization, and for all those who look to the future with apprehension. Will there will be work for all who seek to work and will it be decent, they wonder. While international wars have diminished in recurrence and intensity, millions of people are caught in numerous internal strife and protracted crises of various types in different regions of the world. Current conflicts that have dreadful internal and cross-border consequences,  such as the movements  of internally displaced persons (IDPs), economic migrants  and refugees seeking asylum.
  • ILO is the only of the three international institutions established by the Versailles Treaty still functioning a century later. The League of Nations and the Permanent Court of Justice, the other two institutions,  were paralyzed and later formally abolished to be replaced by the new global governance system of the United Nations. The ILO became the first Specialized Agency within the new frame of the United Nations System, soon joined by several other new international institutions with dedicated technical specialization.
  • The Philadelphia Declaration, adopted on the 10th May of 1944,  and embedded later into the ILO Constitution, while maintaining the ILO’s primary function of developing international legislation to promote humane conditions of work, broadened the original vision in several ways. (To date, there are 189 Conventions and 205 Recommendations and 4 Protocols covering a wide range of work related issues and adopted after elaborate international tripartite negotiations.) With emphasis laid on human rights, including the freedom of association (for workers and employers),  the Philadelphia Declaration is a precursor to the Universal Declaration for Human Rights adopted in 1948 and a source of inspiration for many rights included in  the two international Covenants of Civil and Political Rights and Social, Economic and Cultural rights adopted in 1966.
  • The Philadelphia Declaration also introduced the objective of full and freely chosen employment and the commitment to promote employment, acquisition of skills, and regulation of labour migration as contributing to full employment. Despite the Cold War and the confrontation between competing social ideals, ILO’s model of international cooperation adapted and evolved relatively well in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in a context of high growth, full employment and welfare state in industrial countries. During the same period, the decolonization process which saw the membership of the Organization grow rapidly from 40 countries in 1919 to 187 today, gave more sense to the universal relevance of the ILO while bringing out the different and diverse realities of the world of work in developing countries. The World Employment Programme launched in 1969, at mid-point in ILO’s history, responded to this developmental challenge by treading new field, uncharted before. Examples are its pioneering work on rural poverty, its coining of the concept of the informal sector and its innovative lens on the gendered division of labour.
  • The Philadelphia Declaration clearly  proclaimed the primacy of human and social progress “in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity” over economic and financial considerations. It mandated the ILO to examine all international economic and financial policies in the light of this primacy. We know that the globalization story in the 1980’s and the 1990s, and the neo-liberal model that sustained it and expanded it to all regions, unfolded differently. The International Financial Institutions (IFI) set  policy frameworks  based on the primacy of financial solvency, despite its high social adjustment costs. The policy responses to the 1997 Asian financial crisis and to the 2007/2008 global financial crisis, have shown that policy coherence, between the IFIs and the United Nations system, when addressing the social and economic challenges of globalization or responding to major global economic and financial crises, remains a challenge. The ILO’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work represents a rare consensus platform, a level playing field in globalizing economies in respect of the core labour rights  of elimination of child and forced labour, non-discrimination at work, and freedom of association.
  • It is good to recall that the ILO is the only United Nations agency that is not only inter-governmental but embodies an enlarged democratic system representing all three parties of the world of work. Since its foundation, the ILO functions on the premise of tripartite dialogue and cooperation at national and international levels. Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations voice their views, negotiate and vote independently in all ILO’s organs and working processes. This pioneering and revolutionary model of tripartism is obviously  confronted with its own challenges. A major one is the representational challenge. The declining membership of trade unions reduces  their bargaining power and hence their voice in policy-making. The Employers’ organizations often do not include the two extremes of the business sector, that is the major multinationals and global supply chains that operate across borders and different national legislative frameworks, often setting their own ethical agenda and codes of conduct. They do not encompass either the myriad micro and small business operators , most of which are in the informal economy. The  growing movement of civil society organizations (other than employers and workers organizations) also claims a more active and systemic engagement with ILO.


This brief could only touch on a few issues. It is merely an invitation to dig deeper into the ILO history, many aspects of which are yet to be researched and written. Looking into the second centenary, this is an invitation to reflect on the philosophical notions of human work and social justice and on the values of democratic dialogue and international cooperation in a context of fast technological disruptions such as the artificial intelligence and all embracing digitalization, environmental degradation and widening inequalities. Will the human agency prevail in innovative social engineering and in shaping the future in fairness in a more complex and uncertain world?

NOTE: Opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.

Francesco Pastore & Marco Pompili on their research for Italy ‘What works for youth employment?’. GLO Research for Policy Note No. 1

Francesco Pastore is Associate Professor of Political Economy at the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli & Fellow and Country Lead for Italy of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

Marco Pompili is Researcher at Ismeri Europa and GLO Fellow.

GLO Research for Policy Note No. 1 – Theme 4. Population dynamics: youth employment and participation

What works for youth employment? An evaluation of an Italian regional integrated program of active labour market policies

by Francesco Pastore & Marco Pompili

In a recent GLO Discussion Paper, we have studied the effect of PIPOL (Piano integrato di politiche per l’occupazione e il lavoro), an integrated programme of active labour market policies, launched by the Italian Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in 2014, to facilitate the increasingly difficult school to work transitions for young people. The programme grouped different funding sources, including those originating from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), (an initiative supporting young people in European Union countries, living in regions with high young unemployment rate). The Programme provided employment and training services to increase the employability of participants.

What we should know

  • PIPOL is targeted at different groups of people with different needs: Group 1 includes young people aged 15-19 years at risk of dropping out of school; Group 2 includes young NEETs (Not-in-Education-Employment-or-Training) under the age of 30; Group 3 includes under-30 youngsters with a high-school diploma or a professional qualification attained within the last 12 months; Group 4 includes young people under-30 with a university degree obtained at least 12 months earlier; Group 5 includes unemployed people or at risk of unemployment.
  • The participation in PIPOL is structured in three phases. Phase one is registration: young participants who think to be eligible can register on-line or go to a Public Employment Service (PES) or other institutions for specific groups. In phase two, orientation services are provided  and  participants are profiled according to their needs band; this service has to be offered to people within 60 days from the registration to the PESs. An individual action plan is established, showing the type of active policies to be administered. Phase three is the implementation of active measures, such as on-the-job training, classroom traineeship, labour incentives, support to business creation.
  • Our evaluation focussed on the first stage of PIPOL, in particular on the interventions of off-the-job and on-the-job training completed by the end of 2016.
  • Our analysis focused on 4,962 off-the-job training courses and 3,361 internships, that were completed by the end of 2016. In terms of participants, the study covered 7,175 young people, of which 4,059 women. Overall, 3,911 attended off-the-job training; 2,945 attended on-the-job training; and 319 both types of intervention.
  • To assess the impact, we have resorted to a counterfactual approach: a control group is extracted by means of PSM or Mahalanobis matching among those who registered in the program over the years 2014-16, but have never benefited of the program. In other words, the econometric procedure is organized in two steps. In step one, we draw a random sample of individuals from the group of those who registered in the program but did not attend because of the lack of suitable financial resources. The selection is done in such a way that the target and control group have exactly the same characteristics.
  • The Mahanobis matching is more accurate since it implies that only individuals with exactly the same characteristics are selected. In step two, we compare the probability to find a job by the program participants and the control group to see whether the former has a higher probability of employment than the latter. This allowed us controlling for observed heterogeneity through a battery of control variables (age, gender, citizenship, education, province of residence and also pre-program work experience) and for unobserved heterogeneity, by extracting the control group using the same pool of individuals registered in the program.
  • We used data from two main sources: 1) different data banks from the administration of the program and 2) information on outcome variables obtained from compulsory communications  that employers have to make to employment services whenever any labour contract is signed or completed/ended.

What works? On-the-job training has the greatest impact!

  • We found that the net impact of PIPOL is equal to 5 percentage point (pp) on average, meaning that people who benefited from the Programme have an average  probability to be employed 5 percentage points higher than people who did not.
  • The greatest impact was found for on-the-job training, and no significant impact  was observed for in-room training. On-the Job training  also  increased the probability of finding permanent work (+3pp). This is consistent with the view of a youth labour market where young people have excellent theoretical competences, but very little work experience and work-related competences (Pastore, 2015; 2018).
  • The off-the-job training programs did not show statistically significant impact on employment, but did affect the probability to experience at least one labour contract after 2016.
  • These results are partly due to a lock-in effect, namely the tendency of those who attend training programs to put off their effort in job search.
  • Interestingly, we found that the program has a different impact for different typologies of recipients and different types of intervention. The scheme seems to have a greater net impact in the case of women, foreigners and young people with lower education.
  • Some forms of off-the-job training still have a positive net impact on employment chances (training to gain a qualification).
  • Internships in manufacturing and construction show a greater impact than in the service sector, although the service sector is experiencing a larger expansion overall.

This study represents an important addition to the Italian and global literature on programme evaluation regarding school to work transitions,  considering the small number of such studies, noted also in the recent review of the literature by Card et al. (2010). It is one of the first analysis of the effect of interventions  implemented within the YEI. To our knowledge, there is only a previous paper assessing the impact of YEI in Latvia (Bratti M. et al. 2018) and the evaluation of the Italian YEI (Isfol, 2016), the latter focusing on the very short-term effects. Our findings suggest that active labour market policies for youth are more effective in Italy when they are directly related to the production of work-related competences.

Angrist, D. & J. Pischke (2009). Mostly Harmless Econometrics. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Bratti, M. & al. (2018). Vocational Training for Unemployed Youth in Latvia: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design, IZA Discussion Paper No. 1187.
Card, D., J. Kluwe and A. Weber (2010). Active Labor Market Policy Evaluations: A Meta-Analysis. Economic Journal, 120 (548): F452-F477.
Card, D., & al. (2018). What Works? A Meta Analysis of Recent Active Labor Market Program Evaluations. Journal of the European Economic Association, 16(3): 894-931.
Isfol. (2016). Primo Rapporto di valutazione del Piano italiano Garanzia Giovani. Roma: Ministero del Lavoro.
Pastore, F. (2018). Why So Slow? The School-to-Work Transition in Italy. Forthcoming in Studies in Higher Education.
Pastore, F. (2015). The Youth Experience Gap. Explaining National Differences in the School-to-Work Transition, Springer Briefs in Economics, Physica Verlag, Heidelberg.
Patore, F. & M. Pompili (2019). Assessing the Impact of Off- and On-the-job Training on Employment Outcomes. A Counterfactual Evaluation of the PIPOL Program, GLO Discussion Paper No. 333.

NOTE: Opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.


EBES & GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann met EBES activists in Malysia to discuss EBES business issues

Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT, Bonn University and Maastricht University) is the President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and the President of the Eurasia Business and Economics Society (EBES). EBES and GLO are academic partner organizations with a number of joint activities.

Zimmermann in his role as EBES President is the recent successor of Jonathan A. Batten, currently a distinguished Professor of University Utara Malaysia, who was serving in this function for many years. Batten is also a GLO Fellow.

Noor Azina Ismail, a Professor of Applied Statistics of the University of Malaya, is the local contact for the 30th EBES congress, which will take place on January 8-10, 2020 at the University of Malaya, Faculty of Economics and Administration.

Zimmermann used his visit at UM to meet with Jonathan A. Batten for dinner and with Noor Azina Ismail for lunch to discuss EBES business issues.

Noor Azina Ismail & Klaus F. Zimmermann after lunch.
Klaus F. Zimmermann & Jonathan A. Batten after dinner.


Azita Berar on ‘Automation, jobs and inequality’. GLO Policy Brief No. 1.

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. 1 – Theme 3. Future of Work

Automation, jobs and inequality

by Azita Berar

There is growing apprehension about new waves of technological development in particular about the implications of increasing automation and use of robotics  displacing human labour. To date, research and policy debate have mostly focused on the estimation of potential job losses that such technologies will entail sometimes with alarmist conclusions. We argue for considering a broader frame of analysis for research and policy that takes account of wider economic and societal implications, including the distributional issues and the need for policy to re-engineer new and evolving social institutions.

What we should know

  • Recent empirical studies (see selected references below) have focused mostly on the job destruction and substitution impact in the US, other advanced countries and in a few emerging economies. Through different methodologies applied and assumptions made to project potential job losses, they reach very different conclusions about the number of jobs and/or the types of jobs that will be substituted. Their estimates vary greatly – by no less than 5 times amongst the most alarmist and the lowest band – even when focusing on the same economy and/ or sector.
  • The new job creation impact of automation within the same sector or the broader economy is usually underestimated. There are examples of  automation technology widely used today that clearly show the positive net job creation and economic expansion. The most cited example is the ATM innovation in the banking sector dispensing human tellers. There has been massive redeployment and upgrading of jobs of former tellers to offer different and higher quality banking products and services. Productivity gains have been invested in the expansion of the sector, in turn leading to new jobs and incomes within and outside the sector.
  • Another fast-evolving technological innovation is “co-bots”, where robots “co- work” along with (or assist) human workers. Used in the automotive and the health industry for example, these have contributed to reducing the drudgery and improving the quality of jobs for humans. And potentially leading to as many new jobs for humans as the use of this type of automation spreads.
  • It is also important to distinguish between the availability of technology that could  replace or displace a certain job/task – a starting premise of recent projections on automation induced job losses – and the probability that the technology will be adopted on a large scale replacing all such jobs/ tasks. There are gaps, sometimes very significant, between the two. This gap is larger in developing countries and amongst them, where as noted, there has been relatively little research. And where the diffusion and impact of automation can not be deducted from current estimates focusing on a limited set of countries and sectors.
  • An interplay of multiple factors pushing in different directions determines the pace and scale of adoption of automation innovation that goes beyond a simple comparison of relative cost among robots and human labour.
  • Understanding the decision-making process of managers and investors in the spread and large-scale adoption of automation is also key. Rarely, automation alone, in the absence of a broader firm strategy,  provides the competitive edge for increased profitability and productivity.
  • There are also wide sectoral variations in the nature of automation innovation and the dynamics of job, income and productivity gains and losses that could incur. A sector/industry focus would shed more light into specific dynamics.  Another under-researched area is the dissemination of technology within sectors and across borders including through global supply chains in highly globalized industries.
  • From a societal perspective, the key issue is how the productivity gains will be invested and/or distributed and through which mechanisms and institutions. This is highly important not from the angle of equity but for sustaining demand in the medium to long term.
  • Throughout previous waves of industrial revolutions and technological disruptions, starting with the mechanization of spinning and weaving in Britain’s textile industry the mid-18th century, there has been apprehension with regard to destruction of jobs and distribution of wealth and well-being. Then and now, there has been a sharp divide between optimists and pessimists! Looking back the reality has overtaken all projected scenarios in very different directions but it has also led to social engineering, policy innovations and the creation of new institutions to tackle wider societal implications.

Will it be different this time? Context and policy matter.

Automation in unequal and polarized environment

  • This new round of rapid automation innovations is taking place amidst a highly polarized environment.
  • Labour markets remain tight: globally 192 million people are unemployed of which over 70 million are young women and men. In many instances, the youth unemployment rate is three times higher than adult unemployment and female unemployment twice that of male unemployment. And these figures do not take into account the “discouraged workers”, those who have given up looking for a job. Quality of jobs is a concern. About 1.4 billion people are working in “vulnerable forms” of employment (own-account workers and contributing family workers) and this number is on the rise. Informality is widespread particularly in developing and emerging countries, where it reaches more than 60 per cent of total employment. There are large segments of population affected by “working poverty”, those who work but are trapped in poverty.
  • Rising inequality and polarization: in the last two decades, most regions have experienced an increase in income inequality. During the same period, there has been a decline in the share of income that goes to labour relative to capital. And this pattern has persisted while labour productivity has increased. Concerns with hollowing out of the middle class and income polarization along different groups of population galvanizes headlines regularly and feed into social unrest. These trends left unattended, automation is likely to exacerbate the inequalities and vulnerabilities and entail more apprehension, whether founded or not on evidence, and more resistance to change.

A broader policy and research agenda

  • For a more positive outlook into the future of automation and work in this environment, there is a need for a broader value-driven policy and research agenda that  engages multiple actors, spans to other geographies and provides a more integrated perspective. Beyond net job destruction and creation counts, induced by automation, distribution of jobs and skills, productivity and income gains should be the focus of research and policy.
  • Space for dialogues. There are examples of how more acceptable and equitable outcomes can be negotiated through social dialogue. The highly automated Hamburg Port is a case in point. Advanced automation has been accompanied by internal redeployment of employees to other jobs and tasks, their re-skilling and up-skilling packages, and redistribution of productivity gains through new working time arrangements and wage compensations.
  • Another innovative form of dialogue to explore, is dialogue among scientists and technology innovators with the research community in economic and social sciences.
  • Transition policies should become permanent features of public policy action and enterprise strategies, facilitating redeployment within firm, sector or economy. Use of  fiscal policies as well as private sector financing  can support active transitions in particular for those made vulnerable to automation, and who are in structural disadvantage in the labour markets.
  • Expansion and distribution of learning and re-skilling opportunities as automation and other technological innovations require different and continuously evolving  set of skills. Their accessibility to those who need them most can be powerful means to reduce inequalities.

The challenges of disruption in labour markets as a result of new waves of automation are real but more complex than a narrow focus on the potential job displacement and job creation impact. While this time too, the future may evolve in unpredictable ways, there is a need for a broader policy and research agenda and actions that accompany these transformations. In the polarized environment of today and the rapid pace of technological innovation, the time is now and the time span is limited to invest in new social engineering  and cooperative mechanisms that create more equitable and sustainable outcomes.


Arntz, Melanie; Gregory; Terry; Zierahn, Ulrich. 2016. “The risk of automation for jobs in OECD Countries: A comparative analysis”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper No. 189. Paris, OECD Publishing.

Frey, Carl Benedikt; Osborne, Michael. 2013. “The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?”, Oxford, Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, a revised version of which was published in 2017 in Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 114.

ILO, Employment Policy Brief 2017. New automation technologies and job creation and destruction dynamics.

McKinsey Global Institute. 2017. A future that works: automation, employment, and productivity.

World Economic Forum. 2018. The Future of Jobs Report 2018.

World Bank. 2016. World development report 2016: Digital dividend. Washington DC, World Bank.

NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of the GLO, which has no institutional position.


WageIndicator celebrates twenty years of activity: Congratulations to Director Pauline Osse and her global teams! Interview with Pauline Osse.

This year, the WageIndicator movement, Pauline Osse and the WageIndicator Foundation with all the teams in so many participating countries, can celebrate 20 years of successful activities around the globe. We take this opportunity to congratulate a great volunteer institution that has contributed to global transparency, understanding and well-being. We have asked the Director a few question about her organization and its work.

The Interview

Pauline Osse

Director Pauline Osse has been a journalist for all her life. She worked for various magazines, the Dutch trade union and as a freelancer before she created the WageIndicator movement.

Now, the WageIndicator Foundation is a global player producing an international trademark.

In 2017, Pauline Osse and her organization were supporters of the newly created Global Labor Organization (GLO) from the first hour.

GLO: To collect wage microdata through the internet was quite innovative two decades ago. What was the origin of your initiative?

The first trigger was the insight that working people everywhere lacked access to adequate wage information. This became clear to me back in 1999 when I set up the website for the Dutch trade unions. People wanted to know ‘what should I earn, what can I ask, what is the going market rate for someone like me, trucker, cleaning lady?’ And the unions could not give that information. What the Collective Agreement said, yes, maybe, but not the real wage the market would pay. For the real wages one needed large scale research. And nobody did this for a lower level then CEO’s.

The second trigger was a small benchmark tool available online at the time for the Dutch highly educated white male employee. But what about me, a working women? And what about all the other working women, taking care for our children, houses, family? Why only information for the rich and highly educated? What about vulnerable groups at the lower end of the labor market? And indeed, what about labor markets in poorer countries? Why wasn’t there such a benchmark tool for everyone?

So I got in touch with Kea Tijdens, a specialist in gender studies at the University of Amsterdam and we sat together. Kea is great at designing surveys and knows how to structure data sets and handle microdata. I knew a bit about the internet already. We put 2 and 2 together and came up with our first online survey. It was 2000, the internet was still young. But it worked. The data we collected was enough to build a salary check, reflecting the real wages for specific occupations. We put our salary check online as a benchmark on a dedicated website and promoted it. This worked too. Ever since we have been refining and extending the salary check, the occupations covered, and the number of national websites. After 20 years – and over 100 countries –  the salary check is still very much at the core of our activities.

GLO: You are about to become a truly global player. What brought the breakthrough and what are the major products?

We did not stop at collecting microdata on real wages and – later – cost of living. Our websites today have much more to offer than just microdata. We offer statutory minimum wages, we have living wages for countries and regions within, we have a full text – and coded Collective Agreement-database and sample Collective Agreements to draw on, we have built and keep extending a country specific labor law database with tailor-made information on social security and the like, now covering 100 countries. Every step, every extension has been a response to what our web visitors told us they needed. The pressing problems of people we met in the field while doing offline research were also key in directing our work.

Our work essentially is piecemeal engineering, really. So it is difficult to pinpoint breakthroughs. But, as I remember it, a few moments stand out. Take for instance our first extension abroad. In 2004 we rolled out national WageIndicator websites in 9 European countries. All had a salary check, our prime product. That first extension abroad may be called a breakthrough: our idea worked there too!

By then we had already decided that every next step, every extension should be designed and constructed in such a way that all data was internally consistent and compatible. Right from the start every tool we use has been of our own making to make sure that all data and all information we elaborate adds up and is internationally comparable. All data is coded, all clauses are annotated. As a result of this early decision, today, as we speak, we run similar operations in over 100 countries. And we hope to serve people in 150 countries in 2020.

I also remember vividly Paraguay 2006. We met trade union members there, very poor people, and explained what we were doing. Their reaction was: what is this talk about minimum wage, maximum wage. The maximum here is the minimum wage, if we get it at all. And we don’t even know what the minimum is! If there ever was an eye opener, it was this one. So we started our collection of minimum wages and we started it in India, with its highly complex patchwork of minimum wages. Today, as a result, we offer the largest minimum wage database in the world within easy reach of everyone, anywhere, including Paraguay. On average each month 50,000 people consult our website there: in Paraguay alone! And a majority visit the minimum wage page first.

Around 2010 it became clear that living wage data was in great demand too. But how to come by living wages? What is a living wage? I thought that the best reference would have been the wages from Collective Agreements. If anything, that wage level should be enough to guarantee a decent living. If one supposed that the legal minimum wage was too low, then one might use the Collective Agreement-wages as a benchmark to eventually arrive at living wages. We should therefore offer a simple negotiating tool, based on existing Collective Agreements. This internal discussion resulted in two databases that we added to our salary check, minimum wages and labor law database: a living wage concept of our own design and a Collective Agreement-database from which we derive sample Collective Agreements.

Which brings me to our Decent Work Check. It is based on labor law and has been inspired by people’s pressing needs. During 2007 and 2008 in a dozen or so countries in Latin America, East and West Africa we organized fact finding sessions in remote rural areas. In order to structure the debate we handed out a small questionnaire. It took participants a few minutes to fill out by ticking multiple choice boxes. The answers added up to a score. This score told them right away where they stood in terms of compliance with working conditions as in their national labor law. Ten years later this tried and tested tool has been used to create a factory-level survey for both Indonesia and Ethiopia, where it has been applied to conduct face-to-face interviews with workers and hr-staff in the garment sector. After consultation with factory owners the compliance-with-the-law-results are published as factory pages on our national websites in those two countries. The factory pages are seen as so called Worker Driven Social Responsibility.  

GLO: Nowadays, WageIndicator is a trademark. But it is not protected, so how do you survive?

Well, I don’t know about the trademark, I couldn’t tell. But in Holland, after 20 years, we surely are a household-name. And we know that our data is widely drawn upon and used by policy makers, many small employers, multinationals, journalists and academics. Even after 20 years, we stick to our policy of putting all our data online as soon as we have double checked that it is accurate, factual and up to date. We just have to offer more than others, be faster, better and transparent.

We always try to come up with creative answers to people’s questions, even like: if you can do this, can you also do that? Such questions also come from governments and multinationals, but these don’t pay always. They simply assume that the data we publish is for free, since it is published. Doing projects together is one way to raise income. Selling data another.

GLO: Your venture has limited funds. So one does not get rich working for WageIndicator. How do you keep the spirit alive?

We want our data to reach as many people as possible. We are motivated by the urge to liberate the ordinary working women and men through empowerment by providing them with clear cut information that helps them in taking their own decisions. To never take no for an answer. So that they no longer depend on their parents, the trade union, the government or any other authority to tell them what is possible and what not.

This questioning reflex surely comes from journalism, my trade. Why don’t workers automatically get the information from the Collective Agreements concluded on their behalf, why do we have to unearth legal minimum wage information and decipher labor law? Why is is not made accessible in understandable language in the first place? This information belongs to the people, by definition. It is unfair to keep it from them. The way we present it makes them say: ah, now I understand what is in the law for me, finally. And: I feel respected, thank you for that. This certainly motivates our team.

We are an internet-based micro multinational. Our team spirit is highly entrepreneurial. We are builders. The gender angle that has been with us from the beginning is reflected in the composition of our global team. Most have children. We make our own creative flow. If we have the money, we invest in improvement and extension. If we have less money we continue building and updating anyhow. You can also look at us as a family enterprise. Even when some cherished team members leave us, because of an attractive job offer elsewhere, they keep in touch with the family, and continue with us by offering coaching and mentorship for free, for ever. They stay with us in the same spirit. We are all about diversity and inclusion. And the fact that in our daily work we do something meaningful to liberate simple working people by giving them the information they need, is a binding force as well.

GLO: What next innovations may we expect?

Perfect websites, perfect databases in 150 countries, many countries with good Collective Agreement databases, factory pages giving overviews of compliance with the labor law. And a platform with social protection tools for the platform workers.

The interview partner from GLO has been Klaus F. Zimmermann.

Share and Compare Wages, Labor Laws and Career


The cold Brexit is most likely to come: What does it mean for the rest of Europe? Martin Kahanec and Klaus F. Zimmermann of GLO analyze the situation.

Stability in a dramatic phase of instability: Theresa May remains Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote the day after she has experienced “the largest defeat for a sitting government in history” on her Brexit deal with the EU in the British Parliament on Tuesday night (January 15, 2019). The country is deeply divided, the political system looks like a lame duck. What are the consequences for continental Europe?

Some people argue that the Brexit situation and the uncertainty will also harm the countries on the European continent. But there are also chances to develop Europe better. Martin Kahanec and Klaus F. Zimmermann have written broadly on European integration and the role of migration. Next to many scientific contributions and policy studies, they have also written some books together on the topic. Their views on the situation are below.

A recent survey among 1,693 adults in the UK has investigated the options for the situation after a rejection of May’s Brexit deal. The “no-deal”, cold Brexit is expected by 35%, while a “second referendum” ranks only third with 21% behind 23% for “don’t know”.

Martin Kahanec is a Professor and Head of the School of Public Policy at the Central European University in Budapest. He is Founder and Scientific Director of CELSI, Bratislava, a Chairperson of the Slovak Economic Association and Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

Klaus F. Zimmermann is Professor Emeritus of Bonn University, Honorary Professor of Maastricht University, the Free University of Berlin and Renmin University of China, Beijing. He is Co-Director of POP at UNU-MERIT, Maastricht, and President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

The Views

GLO: Are you surprised about the large rejection of the Brexit deal?

Martin Kahanec: The landslide is perhaps a bit surprising, but there are several well-defined groups who had every reason to vote against the Brexit deal. One group are those, mainly from the Labor camp, who oppose May, or saw a “nay” as the only way to have a second referendum, or both. Among those who wish for a second referendum are probably a good number of conservatives, too. The other group is composed of those, primarily conservatives, who consider it a bad deal, not protecting the UK’s interests adequately. And then there is the DUP, who oppose the Northern Ireland backstop. It is hard to imagine a deal that would be accepted by some majority in the House of Commons and by the 27 EU member states as well, and with May investing very little in cross-party consensus building, the “nay” result was to be expected.

Klaus F. Zimmermann: Yes, this is kind of a Kamikaze behavior, untypical for a Parliament at fairly normal times. It has been know that the British MPs are quite critical about the EU, and the UK was never a friend of a political union in Europe. An acceptance of the May deal with the EU would have finalized the move out on March 29, at least on paper. Once out, one could have acted more radical. Now those responsible have to fear that the potentially large damage of a cold Brexit generates a stronger desire for a second referendum.

GLO: What do you expect to happen now, general elections, a new referendum, a cold Brexit, or else?

Martin Kahanec: I have no crystal ball. I hope for a new referendum, resulting in the UK remaining in the EU. With Corbyn as a staunch Brexiter at the helm of Labor, one important question is what is needed for him to reflect on the preferences of the majority of his party’s constituency, and turn Labor determinedly in favor of Remain. Whereas postponing Brexit by several months can give some time for what I see as forces of reason to take their effects, I am also afraid that a prolonged agony may further deepen the cleavages and sharpen the tensions in the British society, furthering its polarization, and leaving little space for consensus building. But a cross-party consensus, and strong leadership of the Speaker of the House, are very much needed to avoid a crash-Brexit and explore the options for a new deal or a second, possibly binding referendum.

Klaus F. Zimmermann: Now Theresa May wants to speak with all sides among the MPs. This seems a bit too late. Everybody in the Parliament fears general elections, not even the labor party can be sure to win in such a divided situation. The country is split in two nearly equal blocks with opposite positions. It is not even obvious that a second referendum will bring a strong majority for one side. Hence, my best guess is that the outcome is a cold Brexit. However, I think that this would be really a big problem. With such an important decision with very long-term consequences for the well – being of the people it is not a shame to think twice and to correct a mistake.

GLO: What are the consequences for Europe?

Martin Kahanec: On the one hand, the rejection of the deal is a lifeline for Remain hopes. On the other hand, the ultimate outcome is as unclear as ever. This uncertainty is very unhelpful for the European economy. If the UK leaves the EU, the economic consequences for the EU (and even more so for the UK) will be very much on the negative side. In particular, it will be a major challenge for the eastern member states of the EU. Hundreds of thousands of eastern Europeans work in the UK. Some of them will consider returning to their home countries. As they are primarily young, and have acquired many hard and soft skills in the UK, their return would help the labor markets and public budgets back home. However, they would likely be less productive in their home countries than in the UK, and so their incomes would go down. This and the reduced interstate mobility would also decrease productivity in Europe and hurt its capacity to absorb economic shocks. An abrupt return of large numbers of workers to the sending countries could exceed the capacity of their labor markets, social security and health care systems, and social services to absorb them, creating temporary congestion and resulting in tensions between returnees and their compatriots. The UK will also be hurt: it will lose many thousands of skilled, hard working men and women and talented students from eastern Europe. The UK is also a major trading partner and source of investment for the eastern member states. Brexit would significantly reduce the gains from that trade and investment for both parties.

Klaus F. Zimmermann: Never waste a crisis! Europe has better things to do, but forced to adjust there are two potentials: First, in the likely case of a cold Brexit, the damage for the UK will be substantial, and also the remaining EU will suffer. At least Scotland will try to leave the UK and seek to join the EU. This will signal to the 27 member states that it does not pay to leave. Further, it increases the incentives to develop the EU stronger and faster, in particular since the UK was always hesitant about a stronger political and economic integration and can no longer object. Second, if a cold Brexit does not happen because the British MPs fear the consequences, another referendum is likely. It can lead to a “Remain” and start a cultural change in the UK, where the British people better understand the benefits of the larger European Union. The EU could then be more dynamic than it otherwise would have been.

A recent survey among 1,693 adults in the UK has investigated the options for the situation after a rejection of May’s Brexit deal. The “no-deal”, cold Brexit is expected by 35%, while a “second referendum” ranks only third with 21% behind 23% for “don’t know”.

Reference Link.


GLO-Interview with Alfredo Toro Hardy about his new book on the Latin American view of the future of globalization

The book: The Crossroads of Globalization. A Latin American View. December 2018, 232 pages: World Scientific. More Info.

The author: Alfredo Toro Hardy. GLO Fellow, Venezuelan Scholar and Diplomat. More Info.

The Interviewer: Klaus F. Zimmermann/GLO President. Hardy and Zimmermann have been both Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Scholars in Fall 2017. Zimmermann has written the Preface in the book: Text.

Alfredo Toro Hardy and Klaus F. Zimmermann enjoying a lovely evening in the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in 2017

GLO: Globalization seems to be under political pressure around the globe. How does it affect Latin America?

Alfredo Toro Hardy: Two powerful forces are measuring their strength by acting upon globalization.  One of them pushes globalization forward, while the other hinders its advance and promotes its demise. At this point in time, it is not clear which of them will end up prevailing.

China’s economic umbrella and Asia’s middle class, whose expansion is estimated to represent 80 percent of the world’s middle class increase up to 2030, remain as the fundamental driving forces of globalization. On the other hand, though, we find populism and the displacement that disruptive technologies bring with them. While populism creates boundaries and discourages free trade, the Fourth Industrial Revolution advances towards a decoupling between developed and developing economies. Under these two very different but converging impulses, globalization is bound to loose ground.

Uncertainty hinders Latin America’s strategic vision. If the future entailed a re-launching of globalization, it would seem obvious that the region should follow along its lines, positioning itself in the best possible terms so as to increase its potential benefits. However, if globalization is entering into a declining phase, Latin America would need to look for options.

Latin America faces, therefore, not only a dramatic uncertainty as a result of forces beyond its control, but also the need to anticipate, to the best of its abilities, unforeseen events to which it will have to act or react upon.

GLO: How can Latin America adapt best in the future?

Alfredo Toro Hardy: As said, Latin America finds itself at the crossroads of the pro and the anti globalization forces. Were the rules of the game to change now, the region would certainly suffer. Uncertainty, however, is an even greater challenge because positioning itself and planning ahead amid conflicting signs, becomes extremely difficult.

Globalization emerged as a result of political intention and technological feasibility. Now, it finds itself seriously challenged for the very same reasons. In both cases, political intention and technological feasibility are clearly identified with developed economies. 

What kind of route map can Latin America follow amid this confusing situation? To begin with, it is necessary to analyze the forces that push for and against globalization, trying to measure their respective strength, convergence capacity, and potential impact. This requires, at the same time, looking into the flaws, weaknesses and contradictions of such forces. With these elements in hand, it might be easier to envisage where the trends are leading to and, by extension, where Latin America might end up standing.

However, there seems to be no alternative to playing in both directions, with the aim of minimizing costs and maximizing opportunities. Within this highly fluid situation, pragmatism, resilience, creativeness, imagination, and the joining together of Latin American forces, will have to guide the region’s actions in the foreseeable future.

GLO: What are the challenges for globalization to become profitable for Latin America?

Alfredo Toro Hardy: The curious equation formed by protectionism, populism, political rage, algorithms, deep learning, robots, 3D printing, nanotechnology, indoor and vertical farming, an emerging post animal food industry, and renewable energy, among other elements, may end up suctioning the oxygen of globalization. It is not only that trade barriers emerge, but that it will make no sense to look for cheaper manufactures, products or services afar, when it would become possible to generate them locally at competitive prices.

A decoupling world economy, like the one that may emerge under such equation, presents no benefit for Latin America. Finding a path under such scenario would become extremely stressful and challenging. However, globalization has not been a rose garden for the region. Much to the contrary, it has imposed upon it the need to reconvert into labor-intensive manufacturing or to go back in time to commodities producing. Both of those options have being far from satisfactory.

A globalization that becomes profitable for Latin America would entail the possibility of overcoming such limitations, while opening a path towards a much more international service oriented economy and a more value added manufacturing. Unfortunately, at this point in time options are narrowing not widening.

The book


GLO Fellow Alfredo Toro Hardy Explains ‘The Crossroads of Globalization’ from a Latin American Perspective.

In his new book just published in December 2018, Alfredo Toro Hardy, Venezuelan Scholar and Diplomat as well as a Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), explains his views about the perspectives of Latin America at the crossroads of globalization. Currently, globalization seems to be in decline all over the globe. However, if the future would see a revival, it seems plausible that Latin America should continue its current pace of following it. However, if globalization would continue to decline, the region would need to find other options. The book evaluates the risks and outlines the options. MORE DETAILS.

Ambassador Alfredo Toro Hardy
Venezuelan Scholar and GLO Fellow

The Preface to the book has been provided by Klaus F. Zimmermann, who is the President of the GLO. He writes in the book:

“As so often in the history of mankind, the fate of globalization is currently at stake. It looks that, again, the world is at a crossroad between development or contraction. The economic and political polarizations within or between countries, the rise of populism and in the number of instable democracies, the tensions resulting from migration, inequality, robotization and the demands of emerging economies like China, India and (perhaps) Brazil require attention. Protectionism, EU-skepticism, nationalism, racism, and rejections of economic multilateralism and multicultural approaches are more and more important again. Only few critical observers of the world are not concerned about the current strength and the unclear directions of the driving forces behind which are only slowly understood.

            Globalization is much more than the persistent global integration of the flow of goods, capital and labor. It also merges cultures and enforces permanent and immediate exchange of knowledge and sentiments. Latin America was once forced into globalization and moved in unprepared, stumbling. It survived by adapting. It is an export-based economy. Moving out is likely to be very costly in economic terms. Is this unavoidable or are there alternatives?

            Globalization, as is widely perceived, mainly benefits liberal democracies. But is this really true? The Chinese pro-globalization strategy certainly questions this position. And if globalization collapses in parts of the world, does it make sense to follow like lemmings. Or is it not better to go on as much as possible, making use of the potentials of globalization? In other words, if the United Kingdom wants Brexit, why should the remaining European Union give up its ambitions?

            Globalization will not end, since economic advantages and constraints will enforce its rise, as it materialized over the entire history of mankind. The rise of homo sapiens over thousands of years has taken place due to a superior brain, excellent language abilities and a tremendous talent to collaborate. But, of course, mistakes of humans as of political and social organizations can cause a break of further globalization for some time. In many ways, the current world is not much more open than it was before World War I. In any case: Those nations and continents ignoring historical lessons will eventually fall behind.

            Alfredo Toro Hardy offers us some advanced training. The author of this book deserves significant attention: After a long and successful career as top diplomat, ambassador and global scholar, he is exploiting his deep knowledge and experience acquired over a worklife to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.

            I have had the privilege to learn him and his lovely wife during a joint tenure as a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Scholar in 2017. During this period, we have had many inspiring and fruitful exchanges about the future of our worlds and the challenges of life. I have always been impressed by his deep insights in complex issues and his balanced views on controversial or even explosive topics.

            In his unique way, Alfredo Toro Hardy, develops the perspectives of his continent in this world at the crossroads as the Voice of Latin America. Chapter by chapter, he sharpens our views for the challenges to come and the strengths, Latin America is able to mobilize. What is the right path for the continent? As the author states (p. 388): “Fast moving nations, indeed, appeared to be the better prepared to take advantage from a rapidly moving global market-place.” It is ‘flexibility, stupid’, making the difference. Investing in the technological advances in the fields of knowledge transfer, communications and transportations still make sense. And the continent needs to embrace, not to fight the upcoming digital economy.

            Hence, Alfredo Toro Hardy suggests that (p. 393) “pragmatism, resilience, creativeness, imagination, and the joining together of Latin American forces, will have to guide the region’s actions in the foreseeable future.” This implies to develop the integration of the Latin American markets even further through free trade agreements while keeping open to the global economy, in particular to the European Union. Certainly, institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America can be instruments to foster the process.

Klaus F. Zimmermann , President of the Global Labor Organization, Professor Emeritus, Bonn University, UNU-MERIT & Maastricht University, Rockefeller Foundation Policy Fellow 2017″


GLO intensifies collaborations with Baku: Collaboration contract (MoU) signed and GLO President joins the Advisory Board of IGEP

During his recent visit to Baku/Azerbaijan on 10-13 November 2018, the President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), Klaus F. Zimmermann, has met Chairman Natig Shirinzade of the Institute of Global Economic Problems (IGEP) and collaborated intensively with him. MORE DETAILS. Shirinzade, who is also a GLO Fellow and the GLO Country Lead Azerbaijan, had organized the meetings of Zimmermann with key representatives from government, academia and business to discuss the global challenges and approaches of the country. MORE DETAILS.

In the light of the great success of the visit and the large potentials, Chairman Shirinzade and President Zimmermann agreed to intensify the relationships between both organizations even further. For this purpose, both signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU expresses that the planned collaborations should advance academic knowledge in both organizations through the encouragement of academic research, the communication among scholars through meetings, the promotion of publication opportunities and by providing networking opportunities for scholars through conferences and other joint activities.

For this purpose, Zimmermann has also accepted to join the IGEP Advisory Board headed by the Honorary Academician Ziyad Samedzade, the Chairman of the Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship Committee of the National Assembly (Milli Mejlis). In a festive ceremony, Natig Shirinzade presented Zimmermann the certificate for this appointment, which is signed by him and Ziyad Samedzade.

Over dinner on the previous night, Samedzade, Shirinzade and Zimmermann had discussed further details of the global challenges and found that they largely agree how one needs to approach them.

Shirinzade and Zimmermann after the presentation of the Certificate of the membership in the IGEP Advisory Board.

Relaxation after the hour.

The Honorary Academician Ziyad Samedzade, the Chairman of the Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship Committee of the National Assembly (Milli Mejlis) and Chairman of the IGEP Advisory Board with Zimmermann.

Klaus F. Zimmermann: “The exchange with Ziyad Samedzade was a big honor and great pleasure, we have debated and agreed on important issues of the globalized world, the perspectives of our countries, and what we have to do. A truly great man; I am deeply impressed. He found time on the eve of an important budget debate in the parliament to receive me in his office in the National Assembly and to join us for dinner. About his significant intervention in the parliamentary debate in the following morning I read in the media:”

“The activities of the country’s banks once again caused a barrage of criticism. This time, criticism was voiced by the parliamentarians during the discussion of the draft state budget for 2019 at the plenary session of the Milli Majlis (National Assembly). The statement of Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship Ziyad Samadzadeh was especially noteworthy. He stated bluntly: ‘We cannot be satisfied with the activities of banks in Azerbaijan, because their assistance to the real sector is insignificant.’” (MPs attacked banks. Elnur Mammadov in the AZERI DAILY)


GLO President visits government officials, business and the research community in Azerbaijan

On the invitation of Natig Shirinzade, Chairman of the Institute of Global Economic Problems, the President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), Klaus F. Zimmermann, has visited Baku, Azerbaijan, on 10-13 November 2018 to discuss research and policy issues and to intensify contacts. Chairman Natig Shirinzade is also a GLO Fellow and the GLO Country Lead Azerbaijan representing GLO. MORE DETAILS.

Organized by Natig Shirinzade (right side of the picture), Zimmermann met with researchers and scientists, representatives from business and government including members from the office of the First Vice President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Executive Director of the State Oil Fund and his staff, the Minister of Labor and the Minister of Education with their staff, the Chairman of the Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship Committee of the National Assembly, and the Deputy Foreign Minister and Founding Rector of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA University) with various administrators and professors from ADA University and the Azerbaijan State University of Economics.

The full program on November 12-13, 2018 included the following major program points in this sequence:

The joint initiative of Natig Shirinzade and Klaus F. Zimmermann was broadly covered by the Azerbaijani media:

Left picture: In the middle, Sahil Babayev, Minister of Labor and Social Protection. Right: Natig Shirinzade and Klaus F. Zimmermann


Excellent and deep discussions with key staff members of the office of the First Vice President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: Emin Huseynov (left) and Khalid Ahadov (right). Broad and common understanding about the global human challenges and the large potentials for deeper collaborations between Azerbaijan and Europe.


With Shahmar Movsumov as the Executive Director of the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Fund prepares for the future of the country investing resources around the world and supporting the change of the country including activities strengthening infrastructure and human resources. Both Natig Shirinzade and Klaus F. Zimmermann were visiting Shahmar Movsumov and his staff in his headquarter to introduce the respective institutions and to discuss the research needs to deal with the major challenges of the country. Bellow: In the headquarter of the Fund.



In both ministries, labor and education, the exchange was about the political strategies to deal with the demand for effective government using the instruments of the digital age, establishing the physical and administrative infrastructure needed for the post oil age, the need to strengthen entrepreneurship and the development of skills and education. A particular need was identified in vocational training, where large efforts of both ministries are under way. Zimmermann agreed with ministers Sahil Babayev (labor) and Ceyhun Bayamon (education) that vocational training could be key for the development if combined with proper entrepreneurship and small business. He advertised for the German dual system, knowing the difficulties with an adaption of the model that requires long traditions and the strong support of the business community.

Shirinzade and Zimmermann further met with Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev, Deputy Foreign Minister and Founding Rector of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA University). At the ADA University, they met with him and Fariz Ismailzade (Vice Rector for External, Government and Student Affairs), Elkin Nurmammadov (Dean of the School of Business), Rahman Shahhuseynli (Director of the Office of International Affairs), Kavus Abushov (Assistant Professor, Political Sciences), all ADA University, and Anar Rzayev, Vice-Rector International Relations and Programs of UNEC, the Azerbaijan State University of Economics. Topics discussed included the mission of GLO, the natural role of the country as a geographic, economic and political meeting point between Europe and Asia, and potentials for academic exchange of the universities with Europe. The visit at ADA University ended with a lecture of Zimmermann for ADA students.

Zimmermann speaking at the ADA University Global Perspectives Lecture Series in front of a large audience of interested students.


Klaus F. Zimmermann et al. (2013). Youth Unemployment and Vocational Training. Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, Vol. 9, 1-157. now publishers.

Luca Barbone, Martin Kahanec, Klaus F. Zimmermann and Lucia Kureková (2013), Migration from the Eastern Partnership Countries to the European Union — Options for a Better Future, IZA Research Report, No. 55, Bonn. (50 pages)

Martin Kahanec, Klaus F. Zimmermann, Lucia Kureková and Costanza Biavaschi (2013), Labour Migration from EaP Countries to the EU – Assessment of Costs and Benefits and Proposals for Better Labour Market Matching, IZA Research Report, No. 56, Bonn. (164 pages)

On the more touristic side, Zimmermann explored on November 11 and 12 the city of Baku and the environment directed by a strongly motivated team of tourist guide, interpreter and driver. These experiences provided him with deep insides into history, modern developments, challenges and potentials of the country. On November 10, he was visiting modern Baku and enjoyed some of the local culture. On November 10 in the afternoon, he has been in the old city of Baku, and on November 11, among others, in the Gobustan National Park, saw the Petroglyphs and investigated the Zoroastrian temple of Ateshgah (Part III). At the end, he inspected Yanardag, the burning mountain. (The links lead to the four individual reports on Zimmermann’s private website for those interested.)


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


Hong Kong based German business meets GLO experts to debate the role of the city and business at the time of climate change

After two days of scientific discussions (see details linked: DAY ONE, DAY TWO), 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) met on 2 November 2018 German business at and with the German Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong for a Breakfast Discussion. Peter Hefele, Director of the Hong Kong branch of the German Konrad-Adenauer Foundation was organizing this event for the team of organizers.

Business agreed with academics that climate change can no longer be stopped, and one needs a strong focus on adaptation, in particular in large cities such as Hong Kong.

The event was chaired by Andreas Oberheitmann (FOM, RWI and GLO) and welcomed by Wolfgang Ehmann, Head of the German Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong, and GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann for all participating organizations. Oberheitmann speaking:

The keynote speeches were provided by Manfred Fischedick, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment, and Eric Chung, President and CEO of Siemens Ltd. Hong Kong and Member of the Board of Directors of the Business Environment Council (BEC), Hong Kong.

From the left: Wolfgang Ehmann (Welcome), Keynote Speaker Manfred Fischedick, Andreas Oberheitmann, Klaus F. Zimmermann (Welcome), and Keynote Speaker Eric Chung.

GLO Fellows Almas Heshmati, Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Xi Chen under the observation of Peter Hefele, Director of the Hong Kong branch of the German Konrad-Adenauer Foundation.

GLO experts debating in Hong Kong with representatives of German business about the consequences of climate change for business and humanity. From the left:
Xi Cheng, Professor at Yale University and GLO Cluster Lead “Environment and Human Resources”.
Klaus F. Zimmermann, Professor at Bonn University (em.),  Honorary Professor at the Renmin University of China, UNU-MERIT, and President of GLO.
Andreas Oberheitmann, Professor at FOM, RWI and GLO.
Almas Heshmati, Jönköping International Business School, Sogang University
and GLO, Sweden/South Korea, and GLO Cluster Lead “Green Employment Creation”.
Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Senior Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and GLO.

8:30 Breakfast Discussion (in cooperation with the German Chamber of Commerce)
Climate Change and Human Responses: How to prepare for Change?
Venue: German Chamber of Commerce, 3601, Tower One, Lippo Centre,
89 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Welcoming Remarks
– Wolfgang EHMANN, German Chamber of Commerce
Klaus F. ZIMMERMANN, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University and GLO
Keynote Speeches (10 min each)
– Manfred FISCHEDICK, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment
– Eric CHONG, President and CEO of Siemens Ltd. Hong Kong; Member of the
Board of Directors of Business Environment Council (BEC), Hong Kong
10:00 End of Event

RECENT GLO Discussion Papers on the issue (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


Climate Change and Human Responses: Impressions from a scientific debate in Hong Kong

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) at the Hotel Harbour Grand Kowloon, Hung Hom, Hong Kong (see FIRST DAY, for the full program of all three days, literature references and some pictures of the first day; details of THIRD DAY) continued on 1 November 2018 with a dense scientific program.

Here are some photos of the academic event of the SECOND DAY (November 1, 2018):

9:00 Session 1: Impact of Climate Change on Regions and Industry Sectors
Chair: ZHANG Yifan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO

Session chair ZHANG Yifan (The Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO) next to Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT and President GLO)

Manfred FISCHEDICK, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment
Climate Change and (Basic) Industry: Options and Related Chances and Challenges for a Green Transformation

Challenges of Climate Change for Coastal Regions and Cities: the Case of China

11:00 Session 2: Impacts of Climate Change on Global Labor Force and Labor Markets. Chair: GUO Chaoran, Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO

Session Chair Chaoran Guo (Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO) with Jean-Marc Champagne  (World Wide Fund for Nature) and Walton Li (Greenpeace)

FENG Shuaizhang, Jinan University and GLO, video
(with CUI Xiaomeng, Jinan University,
per skype in the discussion belowLINK TO VIDEO

Climate Variability, Agricultural Productivity and Migration

CHEN Xi, Yale University and GLO
Climate and Environmental Challenges to Health Capital

DEBATE: Astghik Mavisakalyan (Curtin University and GLO), discussing; with from the left Chris Parsons (University of Western Australia and GLO), Peter Hefele (Director, Konrad Adenauer- Foundation, Hong Kong SAR, PR China), Eric Chun Sum Lee (Konrad Adenauer- Foundation), Nicolas de Loisy (SCMO, Hong Kong), and session chair GUO Chaoran (Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO)

Christopher PARSONS, The University of Western Australia and GLO
Climate Change and Migration, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: A Solution to the Immobility Paradox

14.00 Session 3: Climate Change: Historical Lessons
Chair: Manfred FISCHEDICK, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment

Almas HESHMATI, Jönköping International Business School, Sogang University
and GLO, Sweden/South Korea
What Can We Learn from Environmental Disasters for the Climate Change Challenges?

PEI Qing, Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Mandate of Heaven – Climate change, migration and geopolitical cycles in imperial China

15:45 Session 4: Climate Change: How to React?
Chair: Anbumozhi VENKATACHALAM, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)

Session Chair Anbumozhi VENKATACHALAM (Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, ERIA) with Almas HESHMATI (Jönköping International Business School, Sogang University, Sweden/South Korea and GLO), and speaker Astghik MAVISAKALYAN (Curtin University and GLO)

Astghik MAVISAKALYAN, Curtin University and GLO
Gender and Climate Change: Do Female Parliamentarians Make a Difference?

Background Paper GLO DP 221 Gender and climate change: Do female parliamentarians make a difference?Download PDF
by Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar

Eileen GALLAGHER, BSR, Business for Social Responsibility, Hong Kong
How Business Can Manage Climate Risk in Southeast Asia

17:20 KAS–CUHK Students Forum
(in cooperation with the Faculty of Law/Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
“Climate Change and Human Responses”
Chair: Peter HEFELE, KAS RECAP, Hong Kong
Welcoming Remarks:
– Anatole BOUTE, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
– LL.M-Master Course Student, CUHK
18:00 Wrap-up and Concluding Remarks

RECENT GLO Discussion Papers on the issue (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


“Climate Change and Human Responses”: GLO conference in Hong Kong with FOM & KAS has started on Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The joint FOM-GLO-KAS Conference about “Climate Change and Human Responses”  scheduled  for 31 October – 2 November 2018 in Hong Kong has begun on Wednesday, 31 October 2018. The event is co-organized by the Global Labor Organization (GLO), FOM University of Applied Sciences and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).

See details on the following days, linked: DAY TWO, DAY THREE

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. It does not only have severe consequences for eco-systems, but also directly and indirectly affects societies and economies. The consequences for global production chains, output, labor markets and well-being will be massive. Rising sea levels, floods and droughts, changing agricultural patterns – tremendous economic losses and migration of labor force will lead to unforeseeable consequences on human well-being, public health, labor performance and productivity. The innovative conference deals with the under-researched human consequences of climate change and brings together researchers, business, the policy community and civil society in a city which will be heavily affected by climate change, Hong Kong.

GLO has recently provided a number of Discussion Papers on the topic, see below.

Organizers are Peter Hefele (KAS RECAP, Hongkong), Andreas Oberheitmann (FOM, RWI and GLO) and Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University and GLO). Participants are renowned researchers, politicians and entrepreneurs from Hong Kong, Asia, Europe and the US.

THE PROGRAM: “Climate Change and Human Responses” 

Venue: Meeting Room Whampoa 1&2, 1/F, Hotel Harbour Grand Kowloon, Hung Hom,
Hong Kong

16:00 Registration
16:15 Welcoming Remarks
Peter HEFELE, KAS RECAP, Hong Kong
Andreas OBERHEITMANN, FOM Hochschule, RWI and GLO
16:45 Keynote Speech
Klaus F. ZIMMERMANN, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University and GLO
Climate Change: The Global Labor Challenge
17:15 Q&A
18:00 End of Discussion
19:00 Dinner
Keynote Speech: Ir Albert LAI, CEO of Carbon Care Asia, Hong Kong
Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Hong Kong´s Innovation System
Venue: Grand Salon, Hotel Harbour Grand Kowloon


9:00 Session 1: Impact of Climate Change on Regions and Industry Sectors
Chair: ZHANG Yifan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO
– Manfred FISCHEDICK, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment
Climate Change and (Basic) Industry: Options and Related Chances and Challenges
for a Green Transformation
Challenges of Climate Change for Coastal Regions and Cities: the Case of China
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Session 2: Impacts of Climate Change on Global Labor Force and Labour
Chair: GUO Chaoran, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and GLO
FENG Shuaizhang, Jinan University and GLO (with CUI Xiaomeng, Jinan University)
Climate Variability, Agricultural Productivity and Migration
(video presentation)
– CHEN Xi, Yale University and GLO
Climate and Environmental Challenges to Health Capital
– Christopher PARSONS, The University of Western Australia and GLO
Climate Change and Migration, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: A Solution to the Immobility Paradox
13:00 Lunch
Venue: Restaurant Waterfront Bar & Terrace, G/F, Harbour Grand Kowloon

14.00 Session 3: Climate Change: Historical Lessons
Chair: Manfred FISCHEDICK, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment
– Almas HESHMATI, Jönköping International Business School, Sogang University
and GLO, Sweden/South Korea
What Can We Learn from Environmental Disasters for the Climate Change Challenges?
– PEI Qing, Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Mandate of Heaven – Climate change, migration and geopolitical cycles in imperial
15:30 Coffee Break
15:45 Session 4: Climate Change: How to React?
Chair: Anbumozhi VENKATACHALAM, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East
Asia (ERIA)
– Astghik MAVISAKALYAN, Curtin University and GLO
Gender and Climate Change: Do Female Parliamentarians Make a Difference?
Eileen GALLAGHER, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), Hong Kong
How Business Can Manage Climate Risk in Southeast Asia
17:00 Coffee Break

17:20 KAS–CUHK Students Forum
(in cooperation with the Faculty of Law/Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
“Climate Change and Human Responses”
Chair: Peter HEFELE, KAS RECAP, Hong Kong / Anjle GUPTA, CUHK, Hong Kong
Welcoming Remarks:
– Anatole BOUTE, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
Statements (each 5–10 mins)
– LL.M-Master Course Student, CUHK
18:00 Wrap-up and Concluding Remarks
– Peter HEFELE
18:30 Meet at Lobby and Transfer to Restaurant
19:00 Dinner

8:30 Breakfast Discussion (in cooperation with the German Chamber of Commerce)
Climate Change and Human Responses: How to prepare for Change?
Venue: German Chamber of Commerce, 3601, Tower One, Lippo Centre,
89 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Welcoming Remarks
– Wolfgang EHMANN, German Chamber of Commerce
Klaus F. ZIMMERMANN, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University and GLO
Keynote Speeches (10 min each)
– Manfred FISCHEDICK, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment
– Eric CHONG, President and CEO of Siemens Ltd. Hong Kong; Member of the
Board of Directors of Business Environment Council (BEC), Hong Kong
10:00 End of Event

From the left: GLO Fellows Andreas OBERHEITMANN, Christopher PARSONS &  Astghik MAVISAKALYAN
From the left: Almas HESHMATI, GLO Fellow and GLO Cluster Lead Africa, listening to Peter HEFELE who is introducing the Keynote Dinner Speaker: Ir Albert LAI Keynote Dinner Speaker
  Ir Albert LAI
CEO of Carbon Care Asia
Hong Kong

RECENT GLO Discussion Papers on the issue (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



Expert Michele Bruni says: African mass emigration is not an option, but unavoidable.

In an interview with GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann in Beijing, Michele Bruni, Team Leader and Resident Expert of the EU-China Social Protection Reform Project, outlines that the world will see large, unstoppable demographic imbalances causing substantial challenges. It will in particular involve China, Europe and Africa. Only managed migration and educational efforts can help to deal with this.

GLO Fellow Michele Bruni, Team Leader and Resident Expert of the EU-China Social Protection Reform Project, Beijing.

Michele Bruni holds a Laurea in Political Sciences from the University of Florence and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at the Universities of Calabria, Bologna, and Modena. He is a Fellow of  the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and member of the Center for the Analysis of Public Policies of the Faculty of Economics “M. Biagi”, University of Modena (CAPP). At present, Bruni lives in Beijing where he is Team Leader and Resident Expert of the EU-China Social Protection Reform Project. For more than twenty five years he has participated as labor market expert in numerous EU, ADB and WB funded projects in Eastern Europe, Africa and South East Asia countries. In his research, Bruni has focused on the development of stock and flow models and their application to the analysis of labor market and migration.

QUESTION: Your research seems to suggest that the world will soon experience the largest demographic imbalances that mankind has ever seen. What do you mean by this?

During this century, the growth of working age population will level off as a consequence of the unstoppable demographic transition. But this will result from two opposite tendencies:  the working age population of (i) an increasing number of countries will sharply decline, and (ii) of an decreasing number of countries, the poorest ones, it will explode. This is an unprecedented demographic polarization due to the very different stages countries are currently in the demographic transition.

Over the next 40 years, the world’s working age population will increase from 4.85 billion to 6.21 billion, this is a rise of 1.36 billion people and 28%. This results from positive balances of 1.9 billion and negative balances of 524 million people. The shrinking areas are lead by China with a share of 48.1%, followed by Europe (25.6%), Asia excluding China (18.2%), Latin America (4.1%), and the new world countries (USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) with only 3.8%. The positive balances will be concentrated in Africa (56.8%) and in Asia (37.6 %).

QUESTION: Although both shrinking and aging, China and Europe plan to play the “fortress game”. Will this be sustainable?

In absence of migration the working age population of Europe will decline by 134 million and that of China by 252 million over the next 4 decades. Can Europe and China really continue on their path of economic growth and social development without migrants? Is technological change capable to increase productivity as then needed?

The idea that AI and robots will produce a dramatic decline of labor needs has been put forward by gurus of the new technologies, economists, and obviously politicians. However, this is not supported by empirical evidence, it is static and ignores second order effects. Computer-based technologies may destroy jobs, but may also create new ones. Furthermore, the human mind has what appears to be a limitless capacity and fantasy to “invent” new needs and a limitless capacity to invent and produce new goods to satisfy them. It seems therefore evident that for Europe, China – and other numerous countries like Japan and Korea that will experience an even more dramatic decline of working age population – mass immigration is not an option, but a necessity.

To play the “fortress game” by exploiting irrational fears and ignore how the labor market works and how strong the demographic trends are would be totally irrational. Moreover, this game would be undermined by the market itself that will find a way to satisfy its labor needs. At the same time it is difficult to believe that Africa, a continent plagued by war, endemic problems of corruption, and a low educational level will be able to outperform the Chinese economic miracle and create over a 40 year period the more than 700 million jobs necessary to satisfy its increase of labor supply. Therefore, African mass emigration is not an option, but unavoidable.

QUESTION:  Would global collaboration help, and could educational investments be part of a solution?

The demographic polarization contains the potential solution to the problems it generates: The structural need of labor of the countries in the last phase of the demographic transition will correspond a structural excess of labor in the countries in the first phase. However, it is unrealistic that in the present political context immigration countries will open their countries sufficiently allowing the market to do the matching. In my work, I have suggested a cooperative management of migration flows recognizing that arrival countries will almost only need migrants with a medium or high level of education. Hence, the necessary education and vocational training should be financed by the immigration countries and organized by a specialized international organization in the origin countries.

QUESTION: How can China and Europe cooperate, and could they absorb African excess supply of labor?

Europe and China cannot absorb the huge rise in the job-seeking African population, but significantly reduce the burden of job-creation there to less than 400 million. Still a large number, but together with the Chinese infrastructure initiatives the proposed educational activities could help to give the African continent a push. This analysis also suggest that Europe, China and other Asian countries could join forces to maximize the potential of demand-driven migrations, while given its location and rich experience in this field, Europe could take the role of the “training center” of the project.

QUESTION: So the face of migration in the future is “African”?

Human history has already recorded two “out of Africa” migrations. It is a matter of speculation whether those early migrations were due to economic reasons or, as I suspect, to one of the basic characteristic of primates, curiosity. This century will record the third out of Africa migration, but this time migrants will be pulled by the labor needs of Europe and Asia.

GLO Experts Bruni & Zimmermann debating the facts and the policy options in a Beijing coffee shop


Bruni, Michele (2017), Egypt Labour market report. Demographic trends, labour market evolution and scenarios for the period 2015-30, International Organization for Migration, Cairo.

Bruni, Michele (2017), Promoting a Common Understanding of Migration Trends. Analysis and Policies, International Organization for Migration, Cairo.

Bruni, Michele (2018), Ageing, the socioeconomic burden, labour market and migration. The Chinese case in an international perspectiveDownload PDF, GLO Discussion Paper No. 222.

Cervellati, Matteo, Uwe Sunde & Klaus F. Zimmermann, Demographic Dynamics and Long-Run Development: Insights for the Secular Stagnation Debate, Working Paper #604, Princeton University, Industrial Relations Section, UNU – MERIT Working Paper # 2016-049, ZEF Discussion Papers on Development Policy #226 & CEPR Discussion Paper DP 11569. Published:  Journal of Population Economics , Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 401–432; DOI: 10.1007/s00148-016-0626-8.

Zimmermann, Klaus F. et al. (2013), Youth Unemployment and Vocational Training, Foundations and Trends® in Microeconomics 9, 1-157.


GLO Fellow Michele Bruni, Beijing, studies the long-term implications of demographic change for China

China is much younger than Europe, but ages much faster reaching and passing Europe in due course. Michele Bruni, EU Expert resident in Beijing and Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO) analyzes the consequences of the significant demographic changes for the Chinese labor market and welfare.

GLO Fellow Michele Bruni, EU Expert, and  Resident in Beijing

GLO Discussion Paper No. 222 Ageing, the socioeconomic burden, labour market and migration. The Chinese case in an international perspectiveDownload PDF
by Bruni, Michele


China still lags behind Europe along the path of the demographic transition and therefore is still much younger. However, due to the speed with which the fertility rate dropped and life expectancy increased, China ageing process will proceed at a very fast space and around the middle of the century the population of China is projected to be as old as that of France and the UK and older than that of the USA. The paper evaluates the labor market and welfare implications of this process, also by an economic indicator of dependency and socioeconomic burden.

Interested in other GLO Discussion Papers?  The GLO DP series for free.

Interested in other research on China? Recent Papers on the Chinese Labor Market


Employment in China: CIER Forecasting Workshop debates future while celebrating CIER’s 10th anniversary

CIER at Renmin University celebrates its 10th anniversary and debates the challenging employment prospective in the face of global trade tensions. GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann, while visiting Renmin University in October, congratulates to the success of CIER and contributes to the exchange on the future of labor.

The China Institute for Employment Research (CIER) at Renmin University of China, now a globally well known and respected research institution, organizes regular influential meetings by academics, government experts and practitioners from business to judge the state of the Chinese labor market. CIER is directed by Professor Xiangquan Zeng, a former long-term Dean of the School of Labor and Human Resources of Renmin University and Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

Due to the large changes of China and in the world, traditional data sources have often become meaningless and new indicators and their permanent evaluation have to be organized. It was an innovative initiative, when CIER presented in 2011 for the first time what is now called the CIER-Index, an indicator that measures the tightness of the Chinese labor market by relating the size of jobseekers to the demands of the hiring authorities using survey data from business. The index has established its value and is well used inside and outside China.

On 18 October 2018, the regular seasonal forecasting meeting at Renmin University has dealt with the employment consequences of the global tensions in international economic relations. Concerns have been expressed about the predicted moderation of economic growth and an expected decline in employment, which were detailed and confirmed by CIER analysis and all the experts present.

All invited speakers including Renmin Vice-President Liu Yuanchun, former Labor Minister of China Xiaojian Zhang and GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann expressed in their keynote speeches strongly the importance  and significance CIER and its leader, Professor Xiangquan Zeng, had over the entire decade. Zimmermann has called Director Zeng a “man of vision and practice” during challenging times. All wished Zeng and CIER much success for the important work in the time to come.

Former Chinese Minister of Labor Xiaojian Zhang (middle) with GLO Fellow Xiangquan Zeng (left) & GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann after a joint dinner.

During the celebration & analysis meeting:

GLO Fellows Xiangquan Zeng (right) and Shi Li of Beijing Normal University CIER Director Xiangquan Zeng of Rinmin University during his talk presenting his analysis of the Chinese labor market. In front: Liu Yuanchun, Vice President of Renmin University During the debate:  Liu Yuanchun, Xiangquan Zeng & Klaus F. Zimmermann



Azita Berar Awad (previously ILO) joins GLO as Policy Director

Azita Berar Awad has been appointed GLO Policy Director of the Global Labor Organization (GLO). She had been previously the Director of the Employment Policy Department of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Azita Berar Awad has been the Director of the Employment Policy Department of the ILO in the period 2006 – 2017, working for the institution since 1983. In this position, she was responsible for the development of ILO’s approach to promoting full, productive, decent and freely chosen employment. Since employment is one of the four strategic pillars of  ILO‘s decent work agenda, her task was crucial. She was also facilitating broad-based social dialogue processes and extensive capacity-building for employment policy, engaging governments and social partners (employers and workers organizations) in all regions of the world.

See MORE on the Featured Alumna of The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

As the GLO Policy Director, Azita Berar Awad will continue her mission to strengthen employment creation around the world by directing policy initiatives of the GLO network. Her rich experience and large network will help GLO to develop further and connect to the relevant international organizations.


GLO Policy Director Azita Berar Awad


Asian Productivity Organization (APO) workshop on The Impact of Education Policies on National Productivity Growth Completed in Manila/Philippines

Global Labor Organization (GLO) Fellows led the recently completed Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Workshop on the impact of education policies on national productivity growth as experts on labor productivity.

The event took place at the Development Planning Academy (DAP) in Manila (Philippines) on 14 – 17 August 2018. The GLO Lead for South-East Asia, Professor Niaz Asadullah (Malaya University), was joined by three other fellows as resource persons. They were: Dr Chandra Shah (Monash University, Australia), Dr Franceso Pastore (Seconda Università di Napoli, Italy) and Dr Gyuhee Hwang (Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training, South Korea).

The GLO Fellows discussed issues such as dual-track technical and vocational training programs, school to work transition, on the job training programs, modelling future labor demand, the race between man and machine and so on.

Below: GLO Lead for South-East Asia Niaz Asadullah (Malaya University)









Below: GLO Fellow Franceso Pastore (Seconda Università di Napoli, Italy)










Below: GLO Fellow Chandra Shah (Monash University, Australia)















Below: GLO speakers in debate from the left GLO Fellow Gyuhee Hwang (Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training, South Korea; #2), Pastore (#4), Asadullah (#5) and Shah (#6) .










Below: All forum participants. GLO Fellows from the left sitting in the first row: Pastore (#1), Hwang (#2), Shah (#4) and Asadullah (#5).



Climate Change and Human Responses: Joint FOM-GLO-KAS Conference in Hong Kong

A joint FOM-GLO-KAS Conference about “Climate Change and Human Responses” takes place on 31 October – 2 November 2018 in Hong Kong. The event is co-organized by the Global Labor Organization (GLO), FOM University of Applied Sciences and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. It does not only have severe consequences for eco-systems, but also directly and indirectly affects societies and economies. The consequences for global production chains, output, labor markets and well-being will be massive. Rising sea levels, floods and droughts, changing agricultural patterns – tremendous economic losses and migration of labor force will lead to unforeseeable consequences on human well-being, public health, labor performance and productivity.

Mitigation and adaptation measures might have positive impacts on local and regional economies and labor markets – but with huge sector differences. Shifting from carbon-based economies to renewable ones create new sources of value and increase demand for skilled labor globally.

Against this background, the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and FOM University of Applied Sciences organize an international conference in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) | Regional Project Energy Security and Climate Change Asia-Pacific to discuss these issues. The event will take place on October 31 – November 2 in Hongkong.

Organizers are Peter Hefele (KAS RECAP, Hongkong), Andreas Oberheitmann (FOM, RWI and GLO) and Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University and GLO)

Participants are renowned researchers, politicians and entrepreneurs from Hongkong, Asia, Europe and the US. Speakers include:

  • Klaus F. Zimmermann, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University and GLO: Climate Change: The Global Labor Challenge
  • Manfred Fischedick, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment, Climate Change and (Basic) Industry: Options and related Chances and Challenges for a Green Transformation
  • Andreas Oberheitmann, FOM, RWI and GLO, Challenges of Climate Change for Coastal Regions and Cities: the Case of China
  • Almas Heshmati, Jönköping International Business School, Sogang University and GLO, What Can We Learn from Environmental Disasters for the Climate Change Challenges
  • Shuaizhang Feng, Jinan University and GLO, Climate Variability, Agricultural Productivity and Migration
  • Xi Chen, Yale University and GLO, Climate and Environmental Challenges to Health Capital
  • Christopher Parsons, The University of Western Australia and GLO, Climate Change and Migration, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: A Solution to the Immobility Paradox


GLO – UM Joint Seminar at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 21, 2018

21 August 2018 at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.The Global Labor Organization (GLO) and the Faculty of Economics and Administration of the University of Malaya (UM) start an new joint seminar series:

The GLO-UM Joint Labor Economics Seminar

It is headed by GLO Fellow Professor Niaz Asadullah in his function as the GLO Lead for South-East Asia. He is also the GLO Country Lead Malaysia.

The first speaker will be GLO Fellow Dr Chandravadan Shah, who is an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for International Research on Education Systems (CIRES), Victoria University and Affiliate of Monash University in Australia. He will speak about “Forecasting Labor Demand: International Best Practices”.  For further details see below.

PDF of this agenda: GLO-UM Program

PDF of this flyer: GLO-UM Joint Seminar

GLO Fellow Professor Niaz Asadullah in his function as the GLO Lead for South-East Asia heading the new GLO-UM Joint Labor Economics Seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Challenges for European Integration: Monetary, Fiscal and Labor Issues Discussed at Conference in Linz/Austria

Jens Weidmann of the German Bundesbank provided a keynote lecture. Klaus F. Zimmermann of the Global Labor Organization (GLO) spoke in a panel on social cohesion and labor mobility.

The 45th Economics Conference of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) took place on July 5, 2018 – July 6, 2018 in Linz/Austria.

The event was entitled

“Economic and Monetary Union – Deepening and Convergence”.

The most prominent keynote speaker of the first afternoon was Jens Weidmann of the German Bundesbank followed by three panel sessions. Klaus F. Zimmermann (UNU-MERIT and Maastricht University), who is also the President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), spoke about the role of labor mobility for social cohesion.

“Amid formidable challenges, Europe’s future depends not least on the capacity of its economies to converge toward their best performing peers. The conference at the start of the Austrian EU Presidency analyzed which dimensions matter most for the smooth functioning of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and for the convergence of Central, Eastern and Southeastern European (CESEE) countries. The conference shed light on economic, social and territorial cohesion as enshrined in the EU Treaty. Experts from academia, business and politics debated how to prevent economic dispersion, promote deeper integration and ensure sustainable East-West and South-North convergence. They discussed the viability of the institutional framework, deepening of EMU, assessed the Commission’s recent proposals, looked into EU structural and cohesion policies and explored both the potential and policy challenges for CESEE.”

Klaus F. Zimmermann, Angela Pfister & Thomas Liebig — the panelists on social cohesion and migration.

Angela Pfister works for the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB).

Thomas Liebig (OECD) is a also a Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

As Klaus F. Zimmermann argued in his presentation, “Labor mobility is about cooperating in societies or between societies in order to survive and prosper. Hence, migration does not have to be in conflict with social cohesion. Furthermore, it:
►supports the optimal allocation of resources,
►leads to balanced adjustments to asymmetric shocks,
►fights temporary scarcity and deals with shared long-term needs,
►is an indicator of solidarity (see the current “refugee” debate in Europe and the mobility concerns), and
►is of central importance for all countries in the monetary union like the Eurozone.”

Thomas Liebig is co-author of a prominent recent research paper that documents how economies in Europe and the United States have adjusted to asymmetric shocks in the recent Great Recession. It has been the GLO Discussion Paper of the Month in February 2018 and is forthcoming in the Journal of Population Economics.

Jauer, Julia & Liebig, Thomas & Martin, John P. & Puhani, Patrick A., Migration as an adjustment mechanism in the crisis? A comparison of Europe and the United States 2006-2016,  GLO Discussion Paper 178, February 2018. Free download.

Abstract: We estimate whether migration can be an equilibrating force in the labor market by comparing pre-and post-crisis migration movements at the regional level in both Europe and the United States, and their association with symmetric labor market shocks. Based on fixed-effects regressions using regional panel data, we find that Europe’s migratory response to unemployment shocks was almost identical to that recorded in the United States after the crisis. Our estimates suggest that, if all measured population changes in Europe were due to migration for employment purposes – i.e. an upper-bound estimate – up to about a quarter of the asymmetric labor market shock would be absorbed by migration within a year. However, in Europe and especially in the Eurozone, the reaction to a very large extent stems from migration of recent EU accession country citizens as well as of third – country nationals.

See also a recent debate about internal labor mobility in Europe and Austria.

From the program of July 5, 2018:

Keynote lecture:
Deepening EMU – Political Integration and Economic Convergence

Jens Weidmann
President, Deutsche Bundesbank

Panel: Social Cohesion – The Role of Labour Mobility
Kurt Pribil
Executive Director, Oesterreichische Nationalbank
Thomas Liebig, Senior Migration Specialist, OECD
Angela Pfister, Economic Expert, Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB)
Klaus F. Zimmermann, President | Professor
Global Labor Organization (GLO) | Maastricht University | UNU-MERIT


For a link to the Full Program click Program on this page.


Understanding the Challenges of the NEW Austrian Government Program. Video Analysis Available

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is commited to evidence-based policy making and global exchange. GLO Fellow Peter Brandner and his independent group DIE WEIS[S]E WIRTSCHAFT has now provided the videos of a series of expert panel events summarizing the core policy areas (i) health, (ii) economics, (iii) education and (iv) migration and integration policy. A number of GLO Fellows including GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann have participated in the analysis. The links to the information and the videos (all in German) are provided below. The videos are just freshly published.

Peter Brandner, Austrian Policy Advisor, University of Vienna and GLO

Die österreichische unabhängige Gruppe DIE WEIS[S]E WIRTSCHAFT macht komplexe Fragen im Sinne evidenzbasierter Politik transparent. Dem diente auch eine Veranstaltungsreihe zum Regierungsprogramm der neuen Österreichischen Regierung mit den Themenbereichen Gesundheit, Wirtschaft, Bildung und Migrations- und Integrationspolitik. Die Videos der Veranstaltungen liegen jetzt vor. Klaus F. Zimmermann, Präsident der Global Labor Organization (GLO), war an der Veranstaltung zur Migrations- und Integrationspolitik im Panel als Akteur beteiligt.

Im Regierungsprogramm 2017-2022 der neuen Österreichischen Regierung ist vieles bloß angedeutet, soll geprüft oder evaluiert werden. Aber auch konkrete Maßnahmen sind erkennbar. In der Veranstaltungsreihe

„Experten bewerten – das Regierungsprogramm auf dem Prüfstand“

organisiert unter der Leitung von GLO Fellow Peter Brandner (Wien) durch

Weis[s]e Wirtschaft

werden wesentliche Politikbereiche aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven kritisch im Lichte evidenzbasierter Politik beleuchtet und diskutiert.

Jetzt wurde das Programm weitgehend durch Videos dokumentiert vorgelegt und auf der Website DIE WEIS[S]E WIRTSCHAFT verfügbar gemacht.

17. Jänner 2018
>> Gesundheitspolitik

29. Jänner 2018
>> Wirtschaftspolitik

14. Februar 2018
>> Bildungspolitik (folgt demnächst)

27. Februar 2018
>> Migrations- und Integrationspolitik
Die Veranstaltung am 27. Februar erfolgte unter Beteiligung von GLO Präsident Klaus F. Zimmermann.

Migrations- und Integrationspolitik im Regierungsprogramm 2017-2022

Der Migrations- und Integrationspanel (von links): GLO Fellow Robert Holzmann, University of New South Wales (Sydney), Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Wien); Ursula Struppe, Dienststellenleiterin Integration und Diversität, Magistratsabteilung 17, Stadt Wien; Andreas Kresbach, Die Weis[s]e Wirtschaft; Klaus F. Zimmermann, Präsident Global Labor Organization (GLO) und Co-Direktor UNU-MERIT, Universität Maastricht; Roland Goiser, Stv. Direktor Österreichischer Integrationsfonds (ÖIF).

Zimmermann, Klaus F., Migrationspolitik im Mediensturm, Wirtschaftspolitische Blätter, 63 (2016), 497-508.
Zimmermann, Klaus F., Evidenzbasierte wissenschaftliche Politikberatung, Journal of Applied Social Science Studies, 134 (2014), 259-270.
Zimmermann, Klaus F., Lobbyisten der Wahrheit, Deutsche Universitätszeitung (DUZ), 3 (2015), 14-15.
Zimmermann, Klaus F., The Core of Global Scientific Policy Advice: op-ed