IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Unemployment and Wage Inequality in OECD Countries


  • Richard Jackman


This paper surveys the main changes in the level of employment and in the wage structure in OECD countries during the last two decades. Despite a slowdown in the growth rates of output and productivity, employment has continued to grow in the OECD countries. The working age population has also continued to grow in most countries, with substantial increases in the female participation due to late entry and early retirement for both men and women. It is argued that the growth in unemployment which has been the most serious labour market development for many of the countries cannot be attributed to demographic, to macroenomic or to institutional supply side factors, but rather has been caused by major and pervasive shifts in the demand for labour by skill attributable primarily to technological innovation. The main evidence for this is the widening of the wage distribution in the United States and in other countries such as the UK where market forces have not been suppressed. The widening of the wage distribution has helped to preserve low skills jobs (more successfully perhaps in the US than in Britain). The paper describes the main institutional impediments to widening the wage distribution in other countries, including the role of trade unions, employment protection and minimum wage legislation and the unemployment benefit system. While in the longer term the improvements in education and training currently taking place can be expected to substantially alleviate the skills imbalance, in the short run the pressures of increasing integration market forces will impose heavy strains on social institution designed to assist the needy.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Jackman, 1995. "Unemployment and Wage Inequality in OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0235, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0235

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.


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

    Cited by:

    1. Berthold, Norbert & Fehn, Rainer, 1999. "Aggressive Lohnpolitik, überschießende Kapitalintensität und steigende Arbeitslosigkeit: können Investivlöhne für Abhilfe sorgen?," Discussion Paper Series 28, Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Chair of Economic Order and Social Policy.
    2. Norbert Berthold & Rainer Fehn & Eric Thode, 2002. "Falling Labor Share and Rising Unemployment: Long-Run Consequences of Institutional Shocks?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(4), pages 431-459, November.

    More about this item


    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:cep:cepdps:dp0235. 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: (). 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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.