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On the Determinants of Labour Market Institutions: Rent-sharing vs. Social Insurance

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  • Agell, Jonas

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

What determines the structure of labour market institutions? This paper argues that common explanations based on rent sharing are incomplete; unions, job protection, and egalitarian pay structures may have as much to do with social insurance of otherwise uninsurable risks as with rent sharing and vested interests. In support of this more benign complementary hypothesis the paper presents a range of historical, theoretical, and cross-country regression evidence. The social insurance perspective changes substantially the assessment of often-proposed reforms of European labour market institutions. The benefits from eliminating labour market rigidities have to be set against the costs of reduced coverage of human capital related risk. The paper also argues that it is unclear whether the forces of globalisation, and the new economy, will really force countries to make their labour markets more flexible. While these phenomena may increase the efficiency costs of existing institutions, they may also make people more willing to pay a high premium to preserve institutions that provide insurance.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2000:16.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in German Economic Review 3, 2002.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2000_016

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Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
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Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/
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Keywords: Labour market institutions; comparative historical evidence; Sweden; Massachusetts; rent seeking; social insurance; union models; cross-country regressions; openness; linguistic fractionalisation;

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References

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  1. Nickell, S. & Layard, R., 1997. "Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance," Papers 23, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Alan B. Krueger, 2000. "From Bismarck to Maastricht: The March to European Union and the Labor Compact," NBER Working Papers 7456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Rebecca M. Blank & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Evaluating the Connection Between Social Protection and Economic Flexib ility," NBER Working Papers 4338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Krueger, Alan B., 2000. "From Bismarck to Maastricht: The March to European Union and the Labor Compact1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 117-134, March.
  17. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Openness, country size and government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 305-321, September.
  18. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
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  22. A. B. Atkinson, 1999. "The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011719, December.
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  24. Horst Siebert, 1997. "Labor Market Rigidities: At the Root of Unemployment in Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 37-54, Summer.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Eichner & Andreas Wagener, 2002. "Increases in Risk and the Welfare State," CESifo Working Paper Series 685, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Andersen, Torben M., 2005. "Product market integration, wage dispersion and unemployment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 379-406, June.
  3. Schob, Ronnie, 2002. "Public Profit Sharing," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 523-41.
  4. Wolfgang Ochel, 2002. "International Comparisons and Transfer of Labour Market Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 788, CESifo Group Munich.

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