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Social democracy and full employment


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  • Glyn, Andrew


Full employment was the centrepiece of the economic policy of social democracy in the post-war period. Whilst the role of Keynesianism in policy making may be exaggerated, it offered the prospect of maintaining full employment without any section of society having to pay. Problems with the foreign balance and with the budget deficits, however, may require that some part of society has to pay with reduced consumption for full employment. This will tend to sharpen the distributive conflicts which, as Kalecki argued, are endemic to full employment capitalism and which eventually rendered it unsustainable by undermining profitability and the dynamism of private investment. The demand necessary to sustain full employment can be maintained by a balanced budget expansion provided the political support can be secured for the higher taxation and provided the institutions for containing distributional conflict can be developed. -- Vollbeschäftigung war das Hauptziel sozialdemokratischer Wirtschaftspolitik in der Nachkriegsära. Auch wenn die Rolle des Keynesianismus hinsichtlich der praktischen Politik überschätzt werden könnte, so stellte er doch in Aussicht, Vollbeschäftigung zu erhalten, ohne daß dies auf Kosten eines Teils der Gesellschaft ging. Im Falle einer unausgeglichenen Außenhandelsbilanz und bei Haushaltsdefiziten könnte es natürlich dazu kommen, daß für einige Gruppen in der Gesellschaft Vollbeschäftigung nur um den Preis eines verminderten Konsumniveaus zu haben ist. Dies könnte dann zu einer Verschärfung von Verteilungskonflikten führen, die, so Kalecki, zu einem Vollbeschäftigungskapitalismus gehören und die schließlich ein Stadium erreichen könnten, in dem durch Aushöhlung der Profitabilität und der Investitionsdynamik die Selbsterhaltungskräfte verschwänden. Die für die Sicherung der Vollbeschäftigung notwendige Nachfrage kann durch eine ausgewogene Budgetausweitung erhalten bleiben, vorausgesetzt, die notwendige politische Unterstützung für eine höhere Besteuerung kann gesichert und institutionelle Regelungen für eine Eindämmung der Verteilungskonflikte können entwickelt werden.

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Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economic Change and Employment with number FS I 95-302.

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Date of creation: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbece:fsi95302

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  1. Albert Ma, Ching-to & Weiss, Andrew M., 1993. "A signaling theory of unemployment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 135-157, January.
  2. Calmfors, Lars, 1993. "Lessons from the macroeconomic experience of Sweden," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 25-72, March.
  3. Richard Layard & Stephen Nickell, 1992. "Unemployment in the OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0081, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Glyn, A, 1997. "Does Aggregate Profitability Really Matter?," Papers, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics 17, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  5. Lundberg, Erik, 1985. "The Rise and Fall of the Swedish Model," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 1-36, March.
  6. Bhaskar, V. & Glyn, A., 1992. "Investment and Profitability: The Evidence from the Advanced Capitalist Countries," Economics Series Working Papers 99144, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Nickell, S., 1991. "Wages, Unemployment and Population Change," Economics Series Working Papers 99122, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Jackman, Richard & Layard, Richard, 1991. "Does Long-term Unemployment Reduce a Person's Chance of a Job? A Time-Series Test," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(229), pages 93-106, February.
  9. Boltho, Andrea, 1989. "Did policy activism work?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1709-1726, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Hancké, Bob, 1996. "Labour Unions, business co-ordination and economic adjustment in Western Europe, 1980-90," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economic Change and Employment FS I 96-309, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  2. Ioannidis, Yiorgos, 2011. "Employment in the Keynesian and neoliberal universe: theoretical transformations and political correlations," MPRA Paper 45062, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. David R. Howell, 2010. "Institutions, Aggregate Demand and Cross-Country Employment Performance: Alternative Theoretical Perspectives and the Evidence," Working Papers, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst wp228, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  4. Jochem, Sven, 1998. "The social democratic full-employment model in transition: The Scandinavian experiences in the 1980s and 1990s," Working papers of the ZeS 02/1998, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).


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