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By what measure? A comparison of French and US labor market performance with new indicators of employment adequacy

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  • David Howell
  • Anna Okatenko

Abstract

Comparisons of national labor market performance have conventionally relied on standard unemployment and employment rates (UR and ER) and these two 'quantity-of-employment' indicators have framed policy debates on the merits of reforms that would move European labor markets closer to the 'American Model.' This paper compares French and US performance using a variety of alternative indicators, including new measures that account for job quality. While the UR was much higher for France between 1984 and 2007, it was lower than the US rate before 1984 and the rates have since converged. It is also significant but not well-known that both prime-age ERs and youth unemployment-to-population rates have been quite similar in recent decades. We calculate two new summary indicators from each country's main household survey for 1993-2005 designed to account for the adequacy of pay and hours of work as well as the number of unemployed and employed (the underemployed share of the labor force and the adequately employed share of the working age population). France shows superior performance on both, especially for less-educated workers, and the French advantage has grown substantially since the late 1990s.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Review of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 333-357

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Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:333-357

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Related research

Keywords: Unemployment incidence; wage level and structure; methodology for organizing macroeconomic data;

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References

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  1. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Howell David R. & Baker Dean & Glyn Andrew & Schmitt John, 2007. "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-73, May.
  3. Stephen R. G. Jones & W. Craig Riddell, 1999. "The Measurement of Unemployment: An Empirical Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(1), pages 147-162, January.
  4. Olivier Blanchard, 2006. "European unemployment: the evolution of facts and ideas," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 21(45), pages 5-59, 01.
  5. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00272015 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2006. "Employment Patterns in OECD Countries: Reassessing the Role of Policies and Institutions," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 486, OECD Publishing.
  7. David BESCOND & Anne CHÂTAIGNIER & Farhad MEHRAN, 2003. "Seven indicators to measure decent work: An international comparison," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 142(2), pages 179-212, 06.
  8. Dharam GHAI, 2003. "Decent work: Concept and indicators," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 142(2), pages 113-145, 06.
  9. David Howell, 2005. "Beyond Unemployment," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 48(1), pages 5-28, January.
  10. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel, 2005. "Unemployment in the OECD Since the 1960s. What Do We Know?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 1-27, 01.
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Cited by:
  1. Philippe Askenazy & Eve Caroli & Jérôme Gautié, 2009. "Un panorama des bas salaires et de la qualité de l'emploi peu qualifié en France," PSE Working Papers halshs-00567693, HAL.
  2. Carola Grün & Wolfgang Hauser & Thomas Rhein, 2010. "Is Any Job Better than No Job? Life Satisfaction and Re-employment," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 285-306, September.
  3. David R. Howell, 2010. "Institutions, Aggregate Demand and Cross-Country Employment Performance: Alternative Theoretical Perspectives and the Evidence," Working Papers wp228, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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