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From Sick Man of Europe to Economic Superstar: Germany's Resurgent Economy

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Author Info

  • Christian Dustmann
  • Bernd Fitzenberger
  • Uta Sch?nberg
  • Alexandra Spitz-Oener

Abstract

In the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, Germany was often called "the sick man of Europe." Indeed, Germany's economic growth averaged only about 1.2 percent per year from 1998 to 2005, including a recession in 2003, and unemployment rates rose from 9.2 percent in 1998 to 11.1 percent in 2005. Today, after the Great Recession, Germany is described as an "economic superstar." In contrast to most of its European neighbors and the United States, Germany experienced almost no increase in unemployment during the Great Recession, despite a sharp decline in GDP in 2008 and 2009. Germany's exports reached an all-time record of $1.738 trillion in 2011, which is roughly equal to half of Germany's GDP, or 7.7 percent of world exports. Even the euro crisis seems not to have been able to stop Germany's strengthening economy and employment. How did Germany, with the fourth-largest GDP in the world transform itself from "the sick man of Europe" to an "economic superstar" in less than a decade? We present evidence that the specific governance structure of the German labor market institutions allowed them to react flexibly in a time of extraordinary economic circumstances, and that this distinctive characteristic of its labor market institutions has been the main reason for Germany's economic success over the last decade.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 28 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 167-88

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:28:y:2014:i:1:p:167-88

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.1.167
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References

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  1. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2006. "The pathological export boom and the bazaar effect: How to solve the German puzzle," Munich Reprints in Economics 19602, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Antonczyk, Dirk & Fitzenberger, Bernd & Sommerfeld, Katrin, 2010. "Rising wage inequality, the decline of collective bargaining, and the gender wage gap," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-014, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  3. Dauth, Wolfgang & Findeisen, Sebastian & Suedekum, Jens, 2012. "The Rise of the East and the Far East: German Labor Markets and Trade Integration," IZA Discussion Papers 6685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  5. David Card & Jörg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2012. "Workplace Heterogeneity and the Rise of West German Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 18522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ulf Rinne & Klaus Zimmermann, 2012. "Another economic miracle? The German labor market and the Great Recession," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, December.
  7. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Alexander C. Lembcke, 2008. "Union Density and Varieties of Coverage: The Anatomy of Union Wage Effects in Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp0859, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Dirk Pilat & Agnès Cimper & Karsten Bjerring Olsen & Colin Webb, 2006. "The Changing Nature of Manufacturing in OECD Economies," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2006/9, OECD Publishing.
  9. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  10. Christian Dustmann & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Training and Union Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 363-376, May.
  11. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten & Wang, Qingwei, 2006. "The Erosion of Union Membership in Germany: Determinants, Densities, Decompositions," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-66, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Robert Kollmann & Marco Ratto & Werner Roeger & Jan in'tVeld & Lukas Vogel, 2014. "What Drives the German Current Account ?And How Does It Affect Other EU Member States ?," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Thomas Beissinger & Nathalie Chusseau & Joel Hellier, 2014. "Offshoring, employment, labour market reform and inequality: Modelling the German experience," Working Papers 330, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  3. Klinger, Sabine & Weber, Enzo, 2014. "Decomposing Beveridge curve dynamics by correlated unobserved components," University of Regensburg Working Papers in Business, Economics and Management Information Systems 480, University of Regensburg, Department of Economics.

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