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Patterns of Work Across the OECD

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  • Giulia Faggio
  • Stephen Nickell

Abstract

Market work per person of working age differs widely across the OECD countries and there have been some significant changes in the last forty years. How to explain this pattern? Taxes are part of the story but much remains to be explained. If we include all the elements of the social security systems like early retirement benefits, sickness and disability benefits and unemployment benefits, then we can capture some aspects of the overall pattern but still a lot remains unexplained. The story favoured by Alesina et al. (CEPR DP.5140, 2005) is that the nexus of strong unions, generous welfare and social democracy implies both high taxes and pressure in favour of work-sharing in response to adverse shocks. This story, however, falls foul of the simple fact that most Scandinavian countries now do much more work than the French and Germans despite having stronger unions, more generous welfare, higher taxes and more social democracy. Ultimately, we are forced into the position that there is no simple story. Some of the broad patterns can be explained but there remain country specific factors which are hard to identify but lead to substantial differences from one country to another.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0730.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0730

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: work; working hours; employment;

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  1. Francesco Daveri & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Unemployment, growth and taxation in industrial countries," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 47-104, 04.
  2. Richard B. Freeman & Ronald Schettkat, 2002. "Marketization of Production and the US-Europe Employment Gap," NBER Working Papers 8797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bound, John & Burkhauser, Richard V., 1999. "Economic analysis of transfer programs targeted on people with disabilities," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 51, pages 3417-3528 Elsevier.
  4. Alesina, Alberto F & Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2005. "Work and Leisure in the US and Europe: Why So Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5140, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2004. "Why are European Countries Diverging in their Unemployment Experience?," IDEI Working Papers 269, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  7. Davis, Steven J. & Henrekson, Magnus, 2004. "Tax Effects on Work Activity, Industry Mix and Shadow Economy Size: Evidence from Rich-Country Comparisons," Ratio Working Papers 57, The Ratio Institute.
  8. Lawrence Kahn, 2003. "Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment in OECD Countries," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(4), pages 25-32, October.
  9. Winfried Koeniger & Marco Leonardi & Luca Nunziata, 2007. "Labor Market Institutions and Wage Inequality," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(3), pages 340-356, April.
  10. Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F7-F28, 02.
  11. Florence Jaumotte, 2003. "Labour Force Participation of Women: Empirical Evidence on The Role of Policy and Other Determinants in OECD Countries," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2003(2), pages 51-108.
  12. 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.
  13. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "The Beveridge Curve, Unemployment and Wages in the OECD from the 1960s to the 1990s - Preliminary Version," CEP Discussion Papers dp0502, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Romain Duval, 2003. "Retirement Behaviour in OECD Countries: Impact of Old-Age Pension Schemes and other Social Transfer Programmes," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2003(2), pages 7-50.
  15. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  16. Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment in OECD Countries," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(2), pages 13-26, October.
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