New position at CPB Netherlands

I’m happy to share that I moved back to the Netherlands to work for the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis! The CPB is an independent research institute that provides economic analyses and projections. 

I have taken up the position as Programme Lead Wellbeing (“Brede Welvaart”). This ambitious programme aims to help the Dutch government to create policies that enhance wellbeing of all.

I will lead the work at the CPB to construct tools that better capture whether policies improve wellbeing:
1. … in all dimensions – not just financial, but also with regard to the environment, health, education and social cohesion;
2. … among all citizens;
3. … in a sustainable fashion so that future generations can enjoy similar levels of wellbeing.

Please send me a message if you like to talk about this at

The last four years at the OECD in Paris have been wonderful for my own level of wellbeing. Merci beaucoup my dear colleagues and we will stay in touch!

Ireland urgently needs to build a better world of work for persons with disability

Ireland should better engage with employers to increase hiring and keeping staff with disability while at the same time improve its passive disability benefit system. As we write in our report Disability, work and inclusion in Ireland: Engaging and supporting employers, the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath make action more important than ever. There is a large risk that the labour market situation for persons with disability will deteriorate further, as happened following the global financial crisis. In Ireland, only one out of three persons with disability has a job, one of the lowest shares in Europe and the OECD area. The report shows that engaging employers is critically important to build a better world of work for persons with disability. The report also highlights the importance of widely accessible and well-funded services by both public employment services and further education and training providers. Furthermore, employers can capitalise on new opportunities for persons with disability given the rise of teleworking and other assistive technologies.

Paid sick leave through the COVID-19 health and labour market crisis

Countries responded quickly to the economic shock resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19 and associated containment by introducing a package of social and labour market measures to support workers and their families. This response has in many countries included expansions of paid sick leave, which have played a key role in protecting incomes, health and jobs during a health-driven labour market crisis. In a COVID-19 OECD Policy Brief that I coauthored, we discuss policy developments and evidence on the incidence of sick leave during the first three months of the crisis. The brief concludes that paid sick leave can be a particularly effective tool during de-confinement, as part of a rigorous testing, tracking, tracing and isolating strategy.However,this requires a system that covers the entire workforce and with a focus on return to work.Paid sick leave to protect income, health and jobs through the COVID-19 crisis.

Evaluating Macron’s labour market reforms

A preliminary assessment of recent labour market reforms implemented by the Macron government in France published in the OECD 2019 Economic Survey for France shows amongst others that:

  • Effective tax rates at the minimum wage have been reduced to the second lowest level in the OECD;
  • The financial risks for firms of hiring workers on permanent contracts have decreased through lower and more predictable dismissal costs.

The OECD Jobs Strategy for emerging economies

How can labour market performance in emerging economies be improved? We use the new OECD Jobs Strategy framework to discuss how emerging economies can confront the dual challenge of low productivity and inclusiveness in a context of widespread informality. We argue that pervasive informality implies that large parts of the workforce do not have access to social insurance or basic regulatory protections. It also limits the ability of the government to collect taxes and hence the resources at its disposal to confront the challenge of promoting inclusive growth. A comprehensive approach is needed that simultaneously promotes formality and reaches out to the most vulnerable.

Chinese imports and domestic employment in OECD countries

The recent revival of protectionism has prompted further interests in the domestic employment effects of imports, in particular from China. In a VoxEU column, I and my coauthor Olaf van Vliet examine the association between Chinese imports and domestic employment effects in 17 sectors across 18 OECD countries with diverse labour market institutions. The results indicate that employment fell in sectors that are more exposed to imports from China, especially among low-skilled workers. You can find our open-access research paper here.

Why do household incomes not keep up with economic growth?

Divergence between the evolution of GDP per capita and the income of a “typical” household as measured in household surveys is giving rise to a range of serious concerns, especially in the USA. In a new paper published in Review of Income and Wealth, together with Brian Nolan and Max Roser we investigate the extent of that divergence and the factors that contribute to it across 27 OECD countries, using data from OECD National Accounts and the Luxembourg Income Study. While GDP per capita has risen faster than median household income in most of these countries over the period these data cover, the size of that divergence varied very substantially, with the USA a clear outlier. The paper distinguishes a number of factors contributing to such a divergence, and finds wide variation across countries in the impact of the various factors. These findings have serious implications for the monitoring and assessment of changes in household incomes and living standards over time.

Fair progress? Economic mobility across generations around the world

A new book with the World Bank that I contributed to, looks at an issue that has gotten much attention in the developed world, but with, for the first time, new data and analysis covering most of the world, including developing economies. The book examines whether those born in poverty or in prosperity are destined to remain in the same economic circumstances into which they were born, and looks back over a half a century at whether children’s lives are better or worse than their parents’ in different parts of the world. It suggests local, national, and global actions and policies that can help break the cycle of poverty, paving the way for the next generation to realise their potential and improve their lives.
A huge thanks to the principal investigators Ambar Narayan and Roy van der Weide, and core team members Alexandru Cojocaru, Christoph Lakner, Silvia Redaelli, Daniel Gerszon Mahler, and Rakesh Gupta Ramasubbaiah.

Average income per capita, health outcomes, and the allocation of development assistance for health

Large multilateral organisations like WHO and the UN rely heavily on average income data in determining eligibility for, and the allocation of, development assistance for health. This column tests this paradigm by analysing the determinants of health outcomes for 99 countries. A country’s epidemiological surroundings, poverty gap, and institutional capacity appear to be much better predictors of health outcomes than gross national income. These findings suggest alternative metrics that could be leveraged in allocating development assistance for health.

See my VoxEU blog here, and full paper here – together with Olivier Sterck, Max Roser, and Mthuli Ncube.

New position at ODI!

From today onwards, I am working as a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London! I am part of their Social Protection and Social Policy team. I am very excited to contribute to their work on social protection and development; including studying and advising on the rise of the gig economy in low and middle income countries, taxes & transfers, and health insurance coverage. You can find my ODI profile here – and please reach out if you have overlapping interests.