EMU and labour market reform: Needs, incentives and realisations
Despite improving labour market conditions in recent years, a number of EMU countries still suffer from high and persistent unemployment. It could therefore be expected that labour market reform would be given a prominent position on the political agenda. The new constraints associated with the common monetary policy only increase the pressure for reform. Relying on the introduction of the single currency as a trigger for labour market reform may be a risky strategy. EMU generates a complex set of re-optimising strategies of the players on the labour market, which makes it difficult to get a clear idea what impact it will have on labour market reform. Evaluation of recent reform measures does not make one confident either. The empirical analysis confirms to some extent the idea that countries with higher unemployment rates have carried out more labour market reform. This finding holds, however, only for countries that do not belong to EMU. EMU countries have on average carried out no more reform than countries outside EMU and any link between the initial unemployment level and the labour market reform indicators seems to lack. It may become apparent that more reform is needed once the macroeconomic environment becomes more unfavourable. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001.
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