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Job Guarantee and Its Critiques


  • Eric Tymoigne


Unemployment brings economic, psychological, and social hardship to individuals and their community. Common policies to combat unemployment include the promotion of economic growth and training, but a less common policy focuses on the right to work. This policy proposal decouples the goals of economic growth and full employment, and allows willing individuals to work in order to maintain their morale and employability while participating in socially beneficial activities. Since the 1990s, debates regarding the right to work have been revived. Criticisms have been wide ranging and the paper evaluates some of them by going back to the New Deal work programs. The paper shows that some of these criticisms are warranted while others are not. The paper concludes that a job guarantee program can provide significant benefits as long as it is organized around a vision of labor as a fulfilling and rewarding activity. However, this vision is almost certain to clash with existing labor market structures and dominant political interests. As a consequence, if put in place, Job Guarantee may be organized as a minimalist, make-work, low-wage program and that would be a mistake.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Tymoigne, 2013. "Job Guarantee and Its Critiques," International Journal of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 63-87.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:ijpoec:v:42:y:2013:i:2:p:63-87
    DOI: 10.2753/IJP0891-1916420203

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