IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Structural reforms in Europe and the (in)coherence of institutions


  • Bruno Amable


The aim of this paper is to analyse the consequences of some structural reforms on the institutional coherence of OECD countries, particularly in Continental Europe, and on their economic performance, particularly as regards employment. Because institutions in developed political economies are interrelated through a complex network of complementarities, institutional change has consequences beyond the area concerned in a reform. This also implies that there are complementarity effects in reforms themselves. A challenge of reform programmes is therefore to achieve a new type of complementarity between reformed institutions. The paper presents empirical evidence questioning the compatibility of the ongoing structural reforms in product and labour markets with the existing institutional structures in some OECD countries. The coherence of the flexicurity strategy, i.e. a combination of labour-market flexibility and a generous welfare state, is also questioned, from the point of view of both economic efficiency and political economy. Copyright 2009, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Amable, 2009. "Structural reforms in Europe and the (in)coherence of institutions," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 17-39, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:25:y:2009:i:1:p:17-39

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruno Amable & Donatella Gatti, 2004. "Product market competition, job security, and aggregate employment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 667-686, October.
    2. Amable, Bruno & Demmou, Lilas & Gatti, Donatella, 2007. "Employment Performance and Institutions: New Answers to an Old Question," IZA Discussion Papers 2731, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Nickell, Stephen, 1999. "Product markets and labour markets1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-20, March.
    4. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "The Contingent Governance Of Teams: Analysis Of Institutional Complementarity," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 14, pages 230-249 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Amable, Bruno & Gatti, Donatella, 2004. "The Political Economy of Job Protection and Income Redistribution," IZA Discussion Papers 1404, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. 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. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2002-17, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    7. Richard Freeman, 2005. "Labour market institutions without blinders: The debate over flexibility and labour market performance," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 129-145.
    8. Amable, Bruno & Gatti, Donatella, 2004. "Labour and Product Market Reforms: A Case for Policy Complementarity," IZA Discussion Papers 1190, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Amable, Bruno, 2003. "The Diversity of Modern Capitalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261147, June.
    10. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2000. "The Political Economy of Labour Market Institutions," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293323, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Baptiste Françon & Michaël Zemmour, 2013. "What shapes the generosity of short- and long-term benefits? A political economy approach," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13027, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    3. Alberto Chilosi, 2014. "Long-Term Unemployment in the Varieties of Capitalism," Zagreb International Review of Economics and Business, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, vol. 17(1), pages 69-78, May.
    4. Bruno Amable & Elvire Guillaud & Stefano Palombarini, 2011. "The political economy of neo-liberalism in Italy and France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00639450, HAL.
    5. Werner Pascha & Cornelia Storz & Markus Taube, 2011. "Coordination between Inertia and Dynamic Development: An Overview of Issues and Contributions," Chapters,in: Institutional Variety in East Asia, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00639450 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bruno Amable, 2014. "The unsolved contradictions of the modernists. Economic policy expectations and political crisis in France 1978-2012," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00973926, HAL.
    8. Hans Pitlik & Margit Schratzenstaller, 2011. "Growth Implications of Structure and Size of Public Sectors," WIFO Working Papers 404, WIFO.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search


    Access and download statistics


    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:oup:oxford:v:25:y:2009:i:1:p:17-39. 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: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

    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.