Labor Economics

Who are the NINIS (out of school and out of work) in Bolivia?

PrintBy: Beatriz Muriel H., Ph.D*

The NINIS phenomenon (that is, young people who neither study nor work) is gaining relevance in the academic debate. However, the meaning behind this word is still a black box with many theories about its content. At one extreme, NINIS are imagined as lazy young people who spend their time playing video games, watching television or doing other unproductive activities. At the other extreme, NINIS are perceived as young people without opportunities for getting education or having a job. Therefore, they are in a kind of social exclusion.

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INESAD News: Economic Symposium a Success

With a record number of supporters, the fifth annual Economic Symposium, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia on April 18, 2013, led by INESAD, proved a giant success. The event was attended by almost 150 participants from across the academic, public and private spheres.

The symposium would not have been possible without the Bolivian Private University (UPB), the Bolivian Catholic University (UCB), the University Center for Social Studies (CESU), the Center for Population Studies (CEP), the Social Interaction Unit of the Faculty of Economics at UMSS (PROMEC), the Research Institute of Social Sciences (INCISO), the Institute of Social and Economic Studies (IESE), National Association of Economists, and the Electricity Conveyor (TDE), on whose premises the symposium was held.

INESAD, CESU,  IESE, INCISO, UPB, and CEP all further participated in the Economic Book Fair. Read More »

Inspiration: Forum for the Future—Helping the Food Industry be More Sustainable

Whether the food industry can play a constructive role in battling public health and environmental problems is a heavily debated question. On the one end, global companies like Coca-Cola are touting their own efforts towards sustainability and are claiming to be making significant inroads. Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) argues that, despite their sustainability rhetoric, companies like the agriculture giant Monsanto only damage sustainability efforts because they are driven mainly by profits and encourage unsustainable practices like pesticide-use. Whereas, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Professor Marion Nestle of New York University and Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard University, argue that companies could act in the interest of public health and environment only if guided to do so by consumer demand and public policy and regulation.

Forum for the Future—a global independent non-profit that seeks system-wide solutions to global challenges—takes a different view. Read More »

Is intelligence based wage discrimination wrong?

Currently many countries are passing anti-discrimination laws for the employment sector. It is increasingly considered morally wrong to pay someone less based on their genetically or environmentally determined traits, such as race, gender, age and certain mental or physical disabilities. However there is one trait that is universally left out of this anti-discrimination trend and that is intelligence; An intelligence based salary system remains completely acceptable despite the fact that we have little more control over our level of intelligence than our gender.

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More worker benefits of doubtful benefit

CG_MachicadoEvery 1st of May the day of the worker is celebrated in many parts of the world, and in Bolivia it has become a custom for the government to give certain benefits to the workers on that day. This year was not the exception and the government promulgated 5 Supreme Decrees benefiting workers. The highlight of these 5 Decrees is Decree 1107 because it recognizes the labor rights for the provisional workers of the companies. That is to say, those workers that are under short-term contract will be able to receive social benefits.

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The Incentives to Engage in Corruption

By Gonzalo Forgues-Puccio

“Very few established institutions, governments and constitutions…are ever destroyed
by their enemies until they have been corrupted and weakened by their friends.”
Walter Lippmann

Assume that it is the middle of the summer and that you just bought your favourite ice cream from a shop. You remove the wrapping but there is no bin in sight. Hence, you have two options: you either look for a bin or just “accidentally drop” (throw) the ice cream’s wrapping on the pavement.

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How Productive is the Informal Sector?

“In Bolivia there are informals and there are idiots”
Luis Alberto Quiroga

The informal sector is often perceived as a sector for excluded, un-educated, low productivity workers who cannot get a “real” job. According to last week’s seminar on Informality in Bolivia organized by the Superintendencia de Empresas and CAF, this perception is quite misleading.

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Salary versus Productivity

Economists usually make the simplifying assumption that salary is roughly equal to productivity, but that is at most acceptable for informal and self-employed people who are not exploited by an employer, not subsidized by tax-payer money, do not exploit non-renewable natural resources, and do not pay significant taxes.

A few examples from La Paz will illustrate what I mean. A typical self-employed mini-bus driver who works 12-15 hours per day 7 days per week will typically take home around $100-120 per month, implying an hourly wage of about a quarter of a dollar. A driver formally hired by the public sector, on the other hand, will typically earn at least the double, say $250 per month for working 8 hours per day 5 days a week, implying an hourly wage of about $1.50, i.e. 6 times higher than the mini-bus driver.

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What is a Good Job?

“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

“When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?'” Don Marquis

Most poor people work in the informal sector in precarious, low-paying jobs with no forms of social security. So key to improving the living standards of the poor seems to be to improve the quality of their jobs.

But what exactly constitutes a good job?

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