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East German unemployment: the myth of the irrelevant labor market

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  • Christian Merkl
  • Dennis Snower

Abstract

This paper indicates that East Germany's unemployment problem originates primarily in the labor market, caused by the fast wage adjustment after German reunification. We model the resulting labor market "traps" in a search and matching framework, show that they are difficult to overcome, and provide empirical evidence. We argue that under these circumstances, demandside policies are effective mainly when they increase the economy's overall productivity and thereby help overcome the labor market traps.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Merkl & Dennis Snower, 2008. "East German unemployment: the myth of the irrelevant labor market," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(1), pages 151-165, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:postke:v:31:y:2008:i:1:p:151-165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lechthaler, Wolfgang & Merkl, Christian & Snower, Dennis J., 2010. "Monetary persistence and the labor market: A new perspective," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 968-983, May.
    2. Michael C. Burda & Wolfgang Härdle & Marlene Müller & Axel Werwatz, 1998. "Semiparametric analysis of German East-West migration intentions: facts and theory," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 525-541.
    3. Lehmann, Harald & Ludwig, Udo & Ragnitz, Joachim, 2005. "Originäre Wirtschaftskraft der neuen Länder noch schwächer als bislang angenommen," Wirtschaft im Wandel, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH), vol. 11(5), pages 134-145.
    4. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1995. "Staggering along: wages policy and investment support in East Germany," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 3(4), pages 403-426, December.
    5. Merkl, Christian & Snower, Dennis J., 2008. "Escaping the unemployment trap: The case of East Germany," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 542-556, December.
    6. Burda, Michael C., 1993. "The determinants of East-West German migration: Some first results," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 452-461, April.
    7. John Hall & Udo Ludwig, 2007. "Explaining persistent unemployment in eastern Germany," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 601-619.
    8. Dennis J. Snower & Christian Merkl, 2006. "The Caring Hand that Cripples: The East German Labor Market after Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 375-382, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    East Germany; labor market trap; unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies

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