IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bpj/capsoc/v2y2007i1n1.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Howell David R.

    (The New School)

  • Baker Dean

    (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

  • Glyn Andrew

    (Oxford University)

  • Schmitt John

    (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

Abstract

A rapidly expanding empirical literature has addressed the widely accepted claim that employment-unfriendly labor market institutions explain the pattern of unemployment across countries. The main culprits are held to be protective institutions, namely unemployment benefit entitlements, employment protection laws, and trade unions. Our assessment of the evidence offers little support for this orthodox view. The most compelling finding of the cross-country regression literature is the generally significant and robust effect of the standard measure of unemployment benefit generosity, but there are reasons to doubt both the economic importance of this relationship and the direction of causation. The micro evidence on the effects of major changes in benefit generosity on the exit rate out of unemployment has been frequently cited as supportive evidence, but these individual level effects vary widely across studies and, in any case, have no direct implication for changes in the aggregate unemployment rate (due to ``composition" and ``entitlement" effects). Finally, we find little evidence to suggest that 1990s reforms of core protective labor market institutions can explain much of either the success of the ``success stories" or the continued high unemployment of the large continental European countries. We conclude that the evidence is consistent with a more complex reality in which a variety of labor market models can be consistent with good employment performance.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:capsoc:v:2:y:2007:i:1:n:1
    DOI: 10.2202/1932-0213.1022
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.2202/1932-0213.1022
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.2202/1932-0213.1022?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 15-90, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michèle Belot & Jan C. van Ours, 2004. "Does the recent success of some OECD countries in lowering their unemployment rates lie in the clever design of their labor market reforms?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 621-642, October.
    3. Bean, Charles R, 1994. "European Unemployment: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 573-619, June.
    4. Dean Baker & Andrew Glyn & David Howell & John Schmitt, 2002. "Labor Market Institutions and Unemployment: A Critical Assessment of the Cross-Country Evidence," SCEPA working paper series. 2002-17, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    5. Helen Russell & Philip J. O'Connell, 2001. "Getting a Job in Europe: The Transition from Unemployment to Work among Young People in Nine European Countries," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 15(1), pages 1-24, March.
    6. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic theory and the welfare state : a survey and interpretation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 279, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. " Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 113-141, March.
    8. van Ours, J.C. & Vodopivec, M., 2005. "How Changes in Benefits Entitlement Affect the Duration of Unemployment," Discussion Paper 2005-30, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    9. Vincenzo Cassino & Richard Thornton, 2002. "Do changes in structural factors explain movements in the equilibrium rate of unemployment?," Bank of England working papers 153, Bank of England.
    10. Siebert, Horst, 1997. "Labor market rigidities and unemployment in Europe," Kiel Working Papers 787, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    11. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald, 2000. "The Rising Well-Being of the Young," NBER Chapters, in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 289-328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment in OECD Countries," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(2), pages 13-26, October.
    13. Virginia Hernanz & Franck Malherbet & Michele Pellizzari, 2004. "Take-Up of Welfare Benefits in OECD Countries: A Review of the Evidence," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 17, OECD Publishing.
    14. van Ours, J.C., 2003. "Has the Dutch Miracle Come to an End?," Other publications TiSEM fd377e7a-c4e4-45e2-bf8c-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    15. 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.
    16. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch, 2002. "The Determination of Unemployment Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 404-434, Part.
    17. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
    18. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages 1-33, March.
    19. 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.
    20. Jean-Paul Fitoussi, 2006. "Macroeconomic Policies and Institutions," 'Angelo Costa' Lectures Serie, SIPI Spa, issue Lect. VII.
    21. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
    22. Assar Lindbeck & Dennis J. Snower, 1989. "The Insider-Outsider Theory of Employment and Unemployment," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026262074x, December.
    23. repec:ces:ifodic:v:1:y:2003:i:2:p:14567946 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. 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, January.
    25. Amable, Bruno, 2003. "The Diversity of Modern Capitalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261147.
    26. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
    27. van Ours, Jan C. & Vodopivec, Milan, 2004. "How Changes in Benefits Entitlement Affect Job-Finding: Lessons from the Slovenian "Experiment"," IZA Discussion Papers 1181, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    28. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
    29. Broersma, Lourens & Koeman, Jan & Teulings, Coen, 2000. "Labour Supply, the Natural Rate, and the Welfare State in The Netherlands: The Wrong Institutions at the Wrong Point in Time," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 96-118, January.
    30. Nickell, Stephen, 1998. "Unemployment: Questions and Some Answers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 802-816, May.
    31. Manning, Alan, 1998. " Comment on B. Holmlund, "Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice."," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 143-145, March.
    32. Edward P. Lazear, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726.
    33. Knut Roed & Tao Zhang, 2003. "Does Unemployment Compensation Affect Unemployment Duration?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 190-206, January.
    34. 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.
    35. Richard B. Freeman, 2000. "Single Peaked Vs. Diversified Capitalism: The Relation Between Economic Institutions and Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. David R. Howell & Miriam Rehm, 2009. "Unemployment compensation and high European unemployment: a reassessment with new benefit indicators," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 60-93, Spring.
    2. David R. Howell & Dean Baker & Andrew Glyn & John Schmitt, 2006. "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions Really at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Perspective on the Statistical Evidence," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2006-14, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    3. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2006. "The Determinants of Unemployment across OECD Countries," Post-Print halshs-00120584, HAL.
    4. Sujit Kapadia, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Hysteresis," Economics Series Working Papers 250, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Aurélien GAIMON & Vincent LAPEGUE & Paola MONPERRUS-VERONI & Noé N’SEMI & Frédéric REYNÈS & Maël THEULIERE, 2007. "Does the interaction between shocks and institutions solve the OECD unemployment puzzle? a Theoretical and Empirical Appraisal," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2007-34, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    6. Bozani, Vasiliki & Drydakis, Nick, 2011. "Studying the NAIRU and its Implications," IZA Discussion Papers 6079, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Dosi, G. & Pereira, M.C. & Roventini, A. & Virgillito, M.E., 2017. "When more flexibility yields more fragility: The microfoundations of Keynesian aggregate unemployment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 162-186.
    8. H Buscher & C Dreger & R Ramos & J Surinach, 2009. "The Impact of Institutions on the Employment Performance in European Labour Markets," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 14(1), pages 17-34, March.
    9. Gayle Allard & Peter H. Lindert, 2006. "Euro-Productivity and Euro-Jobs since the 1960s: Which Institutions Really Mattered?," NBER Working Papers 12460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Luca Nunziata, 2005. "Institutions and Wage Determination: a Multi‐country Approach," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(4), pages 435-466, August.
    11. Beissinger, Thomas, 2003. "Strukturelle Arbeitslosigkeit in Europa: Eine Bestandsaufnahme," University of Regensburg Working Papers in Business, Economics and Management Information Systems 389, University of Regensburg, Department of Economics.
    12. Frédéric Reynés & Paola Veroni & Aurélien Gaimon & Vincent Lapegue & Noé N'Semi & Maël Theulière, 2008. "Does the interaction between shocks and institutions solve the OECD shocks and institutions solve the OECD Unemployment Puzzle ? A Theoritical and Empirical Appraisal," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/9726, Sciences Po.
    13. Tito Boeri & Jan van Ours, 2013. "The Economics of Imperfect Labor Markets: Second Edition," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10142.
    14. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/6120 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Beissinger, Thomas, 2003. "Strukturelle Arbeitslosigkeit in Europa : eine Bestandsaufnahme (Structural unemployment in Europe * an inventory)," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 36(4), pages 411-427.
    16. Ron Smith & Gylfi Zoega, 2004. "Global Shocks and Unemployment Adjustment," Economics wp24_smith, Department of Economics, Central bank of Iceland.
    17. 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.
    18. Gayle Allard, 2006. "Euro-productivity and euro-jobs since the 1960s: which institutions mattered?," Working Papers Economia wp06-22, Instituto de Empresa, Area of Economic Environment.
    19. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/9726 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Gylfi Zoega, 2012. "Employment and asset prices," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(26), pages 3343-3355, September.
    21. Romain Duval & Jørgen Elmeskov & Lukas Vogel, 2007. "Structural Policies and Economic Resilience to Shocks," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 567, OECD Publishing.
    22. Zhe Wang, 2020. "Unemployment across the Euro Area: The Role of Shocks and Labor Market Institutions," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-05, Department of Economics, University of Reading.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:capsoc:v:2:y:2007:i:1:n:1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://www.degruyter.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Peter Golla (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.degruyter.com .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.