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The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence

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  • Blanchard, Olivier
  • Wolfers, Justin

Abstract

Two key facts about European unemployment must be explained: the rise in unemployment since the 1960s, and the heterogeneity of individual country experiences. While adverse shocks can potentially explain much of the rise in unemployment, there is insufficient heterogeneity in these shocks to explain cross-country differences. Alternatively, while explanations focusing on labour market institutions explain current heterogeneity well, many of these institutions pre-date the rise in unemployment. Based on a panel of institutions and shocks for 20 OECD nations since 1960 we find that the interaction between shocks and institutions is crucial to explaining both stylised facts.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:110:y:2000:i:462:p:c1-33
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. B Bell & Stephen Nickell, 1996. "Would Cutting Payroll Taxes on the Unskilled Have a Significant Effect on Unemployment?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0276, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-265, April.
    4. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
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    6. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1998. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 514-550, June.
    7. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "Job reallocation, employment fluctuations and unemployment," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 18, pages 1171-1228 Elsevier.
    8. Olivier Blanchard & Pedro Portugal, 1998. "What Hides Behind an Umemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 6636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Edward P. Lazear, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726.
    10. Lindbeck, Assar, 1995. "Hazardous Welfare-State Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 9-15, May.
    11. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E29 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Other
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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