Quo vadis? NBER, CEPR, IZA, GLO, ….

Among the large number of scientific organizations, societies, academies of sciences, institutes and think-tanks, in economics some prominent networks are the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) and the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

Why do we need various scientific international organizations?

One simple answer is because the world has become more and more anti-global and increasingly favors evidence-free policy making, which needs a counter-balance. The other is that research and its transfer to society is not a zero-sum game, but a public good that in its core is non-rival. And the pragmatic one is that scientists are independent individuals, they do what they want to engage for anyway.

Facing reality, exchanging, meeting, debating, understanding, sharing, competing, collaborating is what applied science is all about. Yes, we increasingly understand the value of identities, but also that there are always mutual identities in real life fitting together.

This is the spirit upon which the Global Labor Organization (GLO) was created in March 2017 with its website glabor.org. The GLO network currently consists of over 700 individuals and 30 organizations covering 91 countries.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the heads of the two most influential economic networks in economics, Jim Poterba (NBER) and Richard Baldwin (CEPR), early on both welcomed the new initiative. And that Richard Baldwin, President of CEPR, wrote as an endorsement for the GLO:

“Slow growth and rapid economic transformation have pressured labor markets across to world. No two nations have identical problems but many nations share common ills including high youth unemployment, income inequality, skills mismatches, premature retirement and excessively large differences in conditions between temporary and permanent contracts. At the same time, the emergence of big data sets and the microeconometrics to use them has started to produce detailed policy-relevant analysis.

The Global Labor Organization aims to support researchers help each other produce better and more relevant work. This strikes me as a great idea and a much needed initiative.

When I was asked to join the CEPR as a Research Fellow in 1990, a concern was what my university would think about sharing my output with a foreign organization. “All sides will win”, was my conclusion at the time, which I think strongly materialized.

I stepped down as a Program Director of CEPR for Labor Economics in 2002 after a decade of service. Already 1998 I created the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) as the Founding Director, operating in key positions in the two networks for a few years. I happily remained a CEPR Research Fellow, thereafter, supporting the CEPR network over the years as I do now.

And also Daniel S. Hamermesh, Network Coordinator of the IZA, frequently writes:

“I see that you are listed as a leader of Klaus Zimmermann’s new online, putative network, GLABOR. At IZA we have no problem with someone being a Fellow of that group and the IZA.

Hence, there are no conflicts of being a member in various networks.

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