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Recruiting high-tech talent with learning opportunities

How can employers attract talented engineers in tight labour markets? This question has challenged managers for at least a generation, and interest in it shows no sign of abating as investment in AI and data science technologies continue to create demand for workers with specialised technical skills that can support development in these areas. The question of how the available pool of technical talent affects employers’ decisions also poses a challenge to policymakers, who are...

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Replicating successful charter schools in Boston

Scaling up effective programmes is a classic problem in social policy. Interventions that succeed in small-scale demonstrations often fail to sustain their effects when implemented at larger scales. For example, recent studies of early childhood programmes, class size reductions, and the Success For All curriculum show effects that fall short of the impressive gains seen in earlier evaluations of similar interventions (Heckman et al. 2010, Heckman et al. 2013, Puma et al. 2012,...

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The Great Trade Collapse: An evaluation of competing stories

The reduction in international trade was larger than the reduction in economic activity during the Global Crisis. This observation has been accepted as extraordinary, because its magnitude has been far larger than in previous downturns, even after controlling for relative prices of imports. This is shown in Figure 1 for the US and has come to be known as the Great Trade Collapse. Figure 1 Naïve trade wedge Source: Yilmazkuday (2019). Note: The naïve trade wedge in Figure 1 is...

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Assessing house prices: Insights from a dataset of price level estimates

Identifying overvalued residential house prices has become an integral part of macro-financial surveillance. In light of the lessons learnt from the Global Crisis, detecting boom-bust dynamics in the housing sector in a timely manner is key to preserving macro-financial stability (e.g. Case and Shiller 1989, 2003). To this purpose, metrics aimed at assessing whether house prices are fairly valued are routinely computed and used by surveillance and policy institutions (e.g. ESRB...

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The economic impact of India’s demonetisation

Economists continue to debate the role that money plays in society. This is partly because large-scale experiments featuring money are rare (Ramey 2016). In 2016, India’s 'demonetisation' was one such natural experiment. At 8:15pm on 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an unscheduled nationally televised address. He announced that, to combat black money, the two largest denomination notes would cease to be legal tender at midnight. Holders of these 500 rupee ($7.50) and...

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Physician bias and racial disparities in veteran health

Ever since we have been able to measure it, there has been a large gap in mortality between black and white Americans. Even in the years before the first set of reliable black mortality estimates, evidence was mounting that enslaved blacks were significantly shorter than whites in antebellum America (Margo and Steckel 1982).  Part of the racial health gap was due to the inadequate diet of blacks during slavery, and another was due to slavery itself. For instance, enslaved black...

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Lessons in economics from Algeria’s victory in the Africa Cup of Nations

Algeria’s recent victory in the Africa Cup of Nations has united a country whose development model has frustrated its young and educated workforce. This column offers four lessons for economic development from the national football team’s success: on the role of competition and market forces, mobilising talent, the role of managers, and the importance of referees (i.e. regulation).  On 19 July, Algeria won the 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. The...

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Managerial quality and productivity dynamics

Managerial quality remains low in firms in developing countries. In the context of the Indian garment industry, this column shows that manager characteristics matter for productivity. It argues that firms might not know what constitutes good management or how valuable it is, and that they could benefit from screening and training management in these qualities. Recent studies leave little doubt about the importance of management for firm productivity. A survey of...

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Neighbourhood effects in early education

The extent to which spillover and neighbourhood effects affect interventions aiming at increasing education among young children is an important question. This column examines a large-scale early childhood intervention targeting the educational attainment of over 2,000 disadvantaged children in the US. It documents large spillover effects on both treatment and control children who live near treated children. Evaluations of early childhood programmes have played...

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Religiosity, education, and economic progress in 19th-century France

Devotion and development: Religiosity, education, and economic progress in 19th-century France Religion has played a primary role in human societies for millennia and continues to do so for billions of people around the globe.  A rich literature – starting with the pioneering work of Max Weber (1905) – has pointed to different channels through which religion can affect economic development. Religion’s relationship with scientific-technological progress has been...

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