Month: February 2024


Effective supervision and self – confidence : A balancing act

Effective feedback is crucial for career progression. Many women drop out of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields because they lack confidence in their abilities to succeed in these areas. One reason for this could be how supervisors give feedback. This column presents evidence suggesting that supervisors may hesitate to provide critical feedback to employees, particularly women with lower self-confidence. Instead, they might offer them overly positive feedback, hindering their performance in the long run. Getting the balance right between honesty and encouragement is vital.

Fighting fire with fire : Countering political populism

Populism is on the rise around the world. For mainstream political parties, this trend represents an existential threat, as disenfranchised voters flock to support new populist groups. The most effective way to respond to the challenge posed by populist parties is an open question and is explored in this column using evidence from Italy. One option is to try to de-bunk the populists, unpicking their campaigns and exposing the flaws in their promises using a fact-based approach. But this can simply push voters further to the fringes, on a tide of anti-expert sentiment. The other option is to fight fire with fire and go after the populists, using their own tactics against them. But this approach, it turns out, can have concerning unintended consequences.

Urban slums: Poverty traps or stepping stones?

Millions of people around the world live in urban slums. Relative to the life left behind in rural areas, the net consequences of growing up in these conditions on a person’s education and skills later in life are determined by the country’s stage of development and its policies for access and quality of education. This column uses data from Brazil to explore this relationship, highlighting that while slums in Brazil may have historically been a stepping stone for the country’s human capital formation, by 2010 they had transformed into hindrances. The lessons for developing countries that are still rural as well as for developed countries that are receiving low-skill immigrants are also discussed.