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By what measure? A comparison of French and US labor market performance with new indicators of employment adequacy

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  • David Howell
  • Anna Okatenko

Abstract

Comparisons of national labor market performance have conventionally relied on standard unemployment and employment rates (UR and ER) and these two 'quantity-of-employment' indicators have framed policy debates on the merits of reforms that would move European labor markets closer to the 'American Model.' This paper compares French and US performance using a variety of alternative indicators, including new measures that account for job quality. While the UR was much higher for France between 1984 and 2007, it was lower than the US rate before 1984 and the rates have since converged. It is also significant but not well-known that both prime-age ERs and youth unemployment-to-population rates have been quite similar in recent decades. We calculate two new summary indicators from each country's main household survey for 1993-2005 designed to account for the adequacy of pay and hours of work as well as the number of unemployed and employed (the underemployed share of the labor force and the adequately employed share of the working age population). France shows superior performance on both, especially for less-educated workers, and the French advantage has grown substantially since the late 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • David Howell & Anna Okatenko, 2010. "By what measure? A comparison of French and US labor market performance with new indicators of employment adequacy," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(3), pages 333-357.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:333-357
    DOI: 10.1080/02692171003701578
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lucie Davoine & Christine Erhel, 2006. "Monitoring Employment Quality in Europe: European Employment Strategy Indicators and Beyond," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00272015, HAL.
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    6. Eve Caroli & Jérôme Gautié, 2008. "Low wage work in France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00266332, HAL.
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    10. Olivier Blanchard, 2006. "European unemployment: the evolution of facts and ideas," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(45), pages 5-59, January.
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    Citations

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    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. Philippe Askenazy & Eve Caroli & Jérôme Gautié, 2009. "Un panorama des bas salaires et de la qualité de l'emploi peu qualifié en France," PSE Working Papers halshs-00567693, HAL.
    3. Carola Grün & Wolfgang Hauser & Thomas Rhein, 2010. "Is Any Job Better than No Job? Life Satisfaction and Re-employment," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 285-306, September.
    4. David R. Howell & Bert M. Azizoglu & Anna Okatenko, 2012. "Confronting Low Pay: Minimum Wage Policy and Employment in the U.S. and France," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2012-5, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unemployment incidence; wage level and structure; methodology for organizing macroeconomic data;

    JEL classification:

    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems

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