Research Proposal I

Labor market, contingency measures exploration

In the context prevailing until before the current pandemic, Bosch and Weel (2013) concluded that for the period 1996 to 2010 in the Netherlands, medium-skilled occupations have lost most in terms of employment shares. They explain that on average, these activities employ a larger quota of older workers. By focusing on the characteristics of occupations they developed measures of technological change, task content, and job quality. Their estimations propose that aging occupations are comparatively more dedicated to routine activities and more subject to offshoring. This deteriorates job opportunities for older workers at the same time than these occupations become less attractive and less sustainable. They highlight that the technological change effects and job quality do not seem to be different in the age dimension of occupations, after controlling for changes in employment shares. Given that the old workers’ share has increased in many countries due to cohort effects and incentives to postpone retirement, these findings are relevant for public policies not only in the Netherland but in all countries that favor extending citizens’ working life. The major challenge in this respect is that abroad technology and competition seem to be playing against local employment opportunities for older workers. This is the case for the older-prime-aged workers, those who are between 40 and 59 years old, and for the oldest group between 60 and 64 years old.

According to the experts of the World Economic Forum [1], the current crisis and the reactions to it hasten the adoption of new technologies, a withdrawal from the supply chains global flow, and intensification in allied oligopolies. Supply chains are going to recast. This implies important changes regarding the physical allocation and digital transition. Would this require calling the local reserve labor armies [2]? Do these groups count with the skills to absorb tasks that until today are located abroad? Can these groups be replaced by higher immigrations?

[1] See https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/04/08/the-coronavirus-crisis-will-change-the-world-of-commerce 

[2] The reserve army of labor is a concept in Karl Marx’s critique of political economy. It refers to the unemployed and underemployed in capitalist society.