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Underemployment In The Uk In The Great Recession


  • David N.F. Bell

    (Department of Economics, University of Stirling and IZA

  • David G. Blanchflower

    (Economics Department, Dartmouth College, University of Stirling, IZA, CESifo and NBER


One of the main puzzles associated with the Great Recession has been the muted increase in recorded unemployment in the UK. In this paper we explore possible explanations for the behaviour of the UK labour market during the period of the recession. We establish that there has been significant underemployment, which partly explains the sluggish increase in unemployment, but also means that (i) significant numbers of workers are supplying fewer hours of work than they would like and (ii) when recovery comes, profit maximising employers are likely to increase the hours of existing workers, rather than making new hires. This particularly disadvantages the young. Our new analysis points to significant levels of underemployment among younger age groups - whether this is measured in relation to their actual hours of work, their desired hours of work, or their labour force participation.

Suggested Citation

  • David N.F. Bell & David G. Blanchflower, 2011. "Underemployment In The Uk In The Great Recession," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 215(1), pages 23-33, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:niesru:v:215:y:2011:i:1:p:r23-r33

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Venke Furre Haaland, 2016. "The lost generation: Effects of youth labor market opportunities on long-term labor market outcomes," Discussion Papers 835, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    2. Fairlie, Robert W. & Fossen, Frank M., 2018. "Opportunity versus Necessity Entrepreneurship: Two Components of Business Creation," IZA Discussion Papers 11258, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Loughrey, Jason & Hennessy, Thia, 2013. "Hidden Underemployment Among Irish Farm Holders 1996-2011," 87th Annual Conference, April 8-10, 2013, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 158849, Agricultural Economics Society.

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