Many people enter occupations that require about the same level of education as they have, but some people enter occupations where their level of education exceeds the required level. Are these overeducated workers less happy with their work than other workers? We sought to answer this question in our recent paper.
Since the 1950’s, social scientists have voiced concerns about overeducation, and the recent trend of bifurcation in the labor market (i.e., jobs coming to require either very high skills or very low skills) has intensified these concerns. For the country as a whole, the presence of overeducated workers in the labor market indicates underutilization of worker skills, which in turn limits the country’s ability to achieve its economic potential.
For individual workers, overeducation may lower earnings and increase health problems. Overeducation may also lower work satisfaction.
In the popular imagination, comedians live extreme and volatile lives.
A cursory knowledge of the careers of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, John Belushi, and Sam Kinison is enough to tell us that stand-up is a world where occupational success often goes hand-in-hand with scandal, excess, and self-destructive behavior.
For most professional comedians, however, stand-up is extreme and volatile in another, more mundane sense: it involves insecure employment, short-term contracts, irregular patterns of work, and months or even years of unpaid labor.
Like other types of creative workers, such as musicians or actors, comedians are prepared to tolerate low wages and uncertain career prospects because they view their occupation as a labor of love. Making audiences double-up with laughter every night, so the theory goes, is meant to be its own reward.
But of course, stand-up is still a job, albeit one that is outside conventional 9-to-5 hours. So how do comedians earn a living on the stand-up circuit, especially when there are a hundred other gag merchants happy to work for free?
Recent research I conducted with my colleague Dimitrinka Stoyanova Russell, based on interviews with 65 full-time comedians in the UK, shows that finding work in stand-up is a complex emotional process.
Unions matter because they provide a voice for workers at their workplace and often in their communities, sectors and in the economy more widely. But in most countries, union membership is ageing rapidly which raises questions about who unions speak for and who they speak to.
By and large, unions recognize the challenges facing them and have been trying to address them for some time. This has led to many unions and activists experimenting with new ways of doing things in an effort to engage young workers.
What’s different about young workers?
Our research looked at some of those innovations in the USA, UK, Germany and France and found that where initiatives were supported by the union, and were in sectors that had some history of bargaining, unions could be very effective at reaching out to young workers.
But it can be difficult to sustain these initiatives with the churn of activists and the precarious work that inevitably comes with working in some of the sectors targeted. Laws and restrictions on what unions do can also be a major hurdle. Nonetheless, our research suggests there is good reason to be optimistic that unions can target and represent young workers very effectively when they are open to new approaches.
Climate change is making the planet we inhabit a more dangerous place to live. After the devastating 2017 hurricane season in the U.S. and Caribbean, it has become easier, and more frightening, to comprehend what a world of more frequent and severe storms and extreme weather might portend for our families and communities.
When policymakers, officials, and experts talk about such threats, they often do so in a language of “value at risk”: a measurement of the financial worth of assets exposed to potential losses in the face of natural hazards. This language is not only descriptive, expressing the extent of the threat, it is also in some ways prescriptive.
Information about value and risk provides a way for us to exert some control, to “tame uncertainty” and, if not precisely predict, at least to plan and prepare prudently for the future. If we know the value at risk, we can take smart steps to protect it.
This logic can, however, break down in practice.
After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I went to New York City to find out how residents there, particularly homeowners, were responding to a new landscape of “value at risk.” In the wake of the catastrophe, they had received a new “flood insurance rate map” that expanded the boundaries of the city’s high-risk flood zones.
129 billion dollars of property was now officially “at risk” of flood, an increase of more than 120 percent over the previous map.
Last year the European Union began advocating for a quota system that requires companies to appoint women to at least 40% of their board seats. According to the EU commissioner for justice and gender equality, Vĕra Jourová, advancing women on boards is “good for business.”
Many countries in Europe—including Norway, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany—have already imposed national quotas to mixed effect. In the U.S., where women fill only about 20% of corporate director roles, there is little talk of quotas even among advocacy groups. Yet firms face growing pressure to appoint more women to the boards from policy makers, women’s rights advocates and even large investors.
There are many reasons to advocate for greater diversity on corporate boards. Many investors believe that women improve performance, enhance a firm’s reputation and contribute to creativity and innovation.
Yet little is known about the impact of gender diversity on the board on corporate policy and practice—especially when it comes to corporate social responsibility.
Most people work because they need to provide shelter and sustenance for themselves and their families. These needs are not temporary or fleeting. For these workers, regular paychecks and health insurance are necessary features of their employment. Having stable and reliable employment is therefore of vital importance.
The formula seems simple. If workers have a job, they should feel more secure than those that don’t. Moreover, certain types of jobs are thought to be more secure than others (e.g., professionals versus retail workers). In reality, however, perceived insecurity is not a one-dimensional phenomenon.
Specifically, there are two major types of perceived insecurity: job insecurity and labor market insecurity.
Job insecurity refers to workers’ assessment of their likelihood of losing their job, whereas perceived labor market insecurity refers to workers’ assessment of their ability to find another job similar to their current position.
In a recent study I found that jobs which are widely viewed by society as secure are associated with lower levels of perceived job insecurity by job holders. However, that same type of work is mostly associated with higher levels of perceived labor market insecurity. How can this be? How can secure work precipitate insecurity?