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Exploring the big jump in the Spanish unemployment rate: Evidence on an 'added-worker' effect


  • Congregado, Emilio
  • Golpe, Antonio A.
  • van Stel, André


Spain is destroying more jobs than any other European country. In the third quarter of 2009, the unemployment rate stood at 17.9%, the second-highest rate in the 27-nation EU and the highest rate in the euro area (EA-16). The exponential growth of the Spanish unemployment rate is the by-product of falling employment rates. However, there is a second explanation which is often overlooked by unemployment forecasters: changes in labour force participation rates. On the one hand, in times of recession participation rates tend to increase in order to safeguard sustainable household incomes. This phenomenon is known as the 'added-worker' effect. On the other hand, there is also an opposite effect in that individuals leave the labour force in recessions because chances to find employment are low. This is the 'discouraged-worker' effect. Applying a threshold cointegration model to Spanish quarterly data over the period 1976-2008, we find that the added-worker effect dominates the discouraged-worker effect, but only when unemployment is below 11.7%. Above this threshold, the two effects cancel each other out so that the participation rate is not influenced by further deteriorations of economic conditions. Since Spain recently passed the 11.7% unemployment threshold, our model predicts that there will be no further increases in the participation rate in the near future.

Suggested Citation

  • Congregado, Emilio & Golpe, Antonio A. & van Stel, André, 2011. "Exploring the big jump in the Spanish unemployment rate: Evidence on an 'added-worker' effect," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 1099-1105, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:28:y:2011:i:3:p:1099-1105

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spd:journl:v:67:y:2017:i:4:p:45-84 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tamar Khitarishvili, 2013. "The Economic Crisis of 2008 and the Added Worker Effect in Transition Countries," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_765, Levy Economics Institute.
    3. Giannakopoulos, Nicholas, 2015. "The added worker effect of married women in Greece during the Great Depression," MPRA Paper 66298, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Lina Cardona-Sosa & Luz Adriana Flórez & Leonardo Morales Zurita, 2016. "Intra-household labour supply after an unemployment event: The added worker effect," Borradores de Economia 944, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Pilar García-Gómez & Sergi Jiménez-Martín & Judit Vall Castelló, 2016. "Health Capacity to Work at Older Ages: Evidence from Spain," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: The Capacity to Work at Older Ages, pages 269-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Laurine Martinoty, 2014. "Intra-Household Coping Mechanisms in Hard Times: the Added Worker Effect in the 2001 Argentine Economic Crisis," Post-Print halshs-01076566, HAL.
    7. Zanin, Luca, 2014. "On Okun’s law in OECD countries: An analysis by age cohorts," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 243-248.
    8. Celia Melguizo, 2017. "An analysis of Okun’s law for the Spanish provinces," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 37(1), pages 59-90, February.
    9. Celia Melguizo Cháfer, 2015. "“An analysis of the Okun’s law for the Spanish provinces”," IREA Working Papers 201501, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Jan 2015.
    10. Tindara Addabbo & Paula Rodríguez-Modroño & Lina Gálvez-Muñoz, 2013. "Gender and the Great Recession: Changes in labour supply in Spain," Department of Economics (DEMB) 0010, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Department of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    11. repec:mod:depeco:0010 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Ada Ferrer-i-carbonell & X. Ramos & M. Oviedo, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Spain," GINI Country Reports spain, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    13. Martha Starr, 2014. "Gender, added-worker effects, and the 2007–2009 recession: Looking within the household," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 209-235, June.
    14. Maurizio Bovi & Massimo Mancini, 2016. "Recessions, expectations, and labor supply dynamics," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 653-671, March.
    15. Christian Dudel, 2017. "Expanding the Markov chain tool box: distributions of occupation times and waiting times," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2017-017, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    16. Congregado, Emilio & Carmona, Monica & Golpe, Antonio A. & Van Stel, André, 2014. "Unemployment, Gender and Labor Force Participation in Spain: Future Trends in Labor Market," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(1), pages 53-66, March.
    17. Celia Melguizo Cháfer, 2015. "“An analysis of the Okun’s law for the Spanish provinces”," AQR Working Papers 201501, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Jan 2015.


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