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

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  • 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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  1. Wolfgang Dauth & Sebastian Findeisen & Jens Suedekum, 2013. "The rise of the East and the Far East: German labor markets and trade integration," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 003, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Christian Dustmann & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Training and Union Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 363-376, May.
  3. Marin, Dalia, 2006. "A New International Division of Labour in Europe: Outsourcing and Offshoring to Eastern Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 5447, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Card, David & Heining, Jörg & Kline, Patrick, 2013. "Workplace Heterogeneity and the Rise of West German Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 7200, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Alexander Lembcke, 2008. "Union density and varieties of coverage: the anatomy of union wage effects in Germany," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19622, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Kollmann, Robert & Ratto, Marco & Roeger, Werner & in 't Veld, Jan & Vogel, Lukas, 2014. "What drives the German current account? and how does it affect other EU member states?," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 176, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  3. Klinger, Sabine & Weber, Enzo, 2012. "Decomposing Beveridge curve dynamics by correlated unobserved components," IAB Discussion Paper 201228, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  4. Kurt Kratena & Mark Sommer, 2014. "Labour Market Policy and Environmental Fiscal Devaluation: A Cure for Spain in the Aftermath of the Great Recession?," WIFO Working Papers 476, WIFO.

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