Conference "Labor Economics and Its Public Policy Impact on Economic Growth" - Summary

24 November, 2015

CERGE-EI’s prestigious economic conference entitled “Labor Economics and Its Public Policy Impact on Economic Growth,” which took place on Saturday, 21 November, 2015, discussed the “uberization” of labor markets and the essentiality of social science research to the quality of public policies, especially at the level of national economies.

An expert conference was held on Saturday afternoon in a packed lecture hall at the CERGE-EI, a joint workplace of the Charles University in Prague and the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Top world economists were present to discuss the labor markets and public policy, including professor Christopher Sims, Nobel Laureate in Economics, professor Alan Krueger, former chairman of Economic Advisers to President Obama, professor Henry Farber, top expert on the Economics of employment from Princeton University, Klaus Zimmerman, founder of the German institute IZA, professor Gerard Roland from the University of California, Berkeley, and other distinguished economists including professor Jan Švejnar, the co-founder of CERGE-EI.

Photographs from the conference and following Gala Dinner are available on CERGE-EI Flickr account.

Recorded event is available on CERGE-EI YouTube channel.

See presentations:
Christopher Sims
Gérard Roland
Henry Farber
Alan Krueger
Štěpán Jurajda

The first panel presented empirical research from the world of labor markets. Nobel laureate professor Christopher Sims summed up modern economic knowledge about the links between economic cycles and workplace productivity, and stressed that we still know surprisingly little about the relationships. Further, he discussed the very different trends of these indicators in Europe and the United States during the recent global economic crisis.

Professor Henry Farber devoted his speech to labor market dynamics based on his study of the relatively new Uber taxi service in New York. He presented the findings of a large study based on extensive data from the operation of the New York taxi. The main conclusion of his analysis is that taxi drivers in New York behave more or less according to classical economic models, despite the idea, held until recently, that their behavior cannot be explained by standard economic models.

Professor Alan Krueger brought up an interesting view of the "uberization" of the US labor market, ie work "on call", which is very different from the long-established forms of employment. These new forms of employment and very free work load have brought fundamental changes to the US market that will sooner or later come to the Czech Republic.

Professor Stěpán Jurajda of CERGE-EI presented the results of an extensive study of the real purchasing power of wages in nearly 80 countries, based on the purchasing power of wages in the McDonald's chain.

Professor Gerard Roland of the University of California, Berkeley, devoted his talk to discussion of the former centrally planned economics from the early 90s to now. His discussion included the Czech Republic, which has been significantly influenced by the research of prof. Švejnar and CERGE-EI. Professor Roland stressed the importance of the quality of state institutions and democracy for long-term economic growth and quality of life.

In the second panel, important domestic and international academic economists participated together with the Czech Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Michaela Marksová. The main topic was the importance of independent, high quality empirical analyses on the formation of government economic policy and its impact on the economic growth of countries. The panel was moderated by Jan Švejnar, who works with his team at CERGE-EI to produce analyses which are used by Czech ministries, the Czech National Bank, the OECD and the European Commission. Nevertheless, this approach is still not sufficiently utilized in the Czech Republic, in contrast to more developed Western economies such as Germany, where IZA operates. "One of the main reasons I co-founded CERGE-EI in 1990 and the seven year old CERGE-EI IDEA think-tank is that this type of research and its use in economic policy should become the norm in the Czech Republic and in other transition economies" explains Jan Švejnar.

The CERGE-EI conference was held to commemorate professor Jan Švejnar’s IZA prize award, awarded this summer in Bonn by the German Institute for the Study of Labor. The IZA prize is the most prestigious science award in the field of labor economics.

Jan Švejnar received the prestigious award for research in transition or formerly centrally planned economies, and particularly for his research on economic policy based on high-quality data and analysis, "evidence- based policy," offering concrete proposals on how governments can intervene effectively in economic and social processes.

"This type of research is currently being processed by academic institutions and actively used by governments in developed economies, as it undoubtedly contributes to the efficiency of running the economy. In the Czech Republic this practice is not yet established, and in this regard it is possible to consider the studies I have done over the past 25 years as fundamental, "commented Jan Švejnar on the importance of his studies.

The conference was attended by economists, post-graduate students from CERGE-EI, representatives of the public and private sector, including Tomáš Zima, the rector of Charles University, Jiří Drahoš, president of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Josef Zieleniec, Jiří Rusnok, Karel Janeček and representatives of the economic departments of embassies.


For further information, please contact Přemysl Pela of CERGE-EI, tel. 724 093 896, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.