IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Working on the Chain Gang? An Examination of Rising Effort Levels in Europe in the 1990s


  • F Green
  • Steven McIntosh


This paper presents evidence that, across many European countries, the 1990s have witnessed an intensification of labour effort, and investigates explanations for this process. Using data drawn from The European Survey on Working Conditions, we construct an index of work effort and show that it has reasonable properties in relation to other variables. We find that Britain has experienced the fastest rise in work effort, while in western Germany, Denmark and Greece there has been very little intensification of work effort. We show that work effort is higher in jobs that use computers more frequently, and in jobs that are more open to competitive pressures. Work effort has increased faster in countries where trade union density has declined the most. These factors are able to explain a large portion of the variation in the change of work effort between countries, but there remains a significant shift in work effort that is not accounted for by available explanatory variables.

Suggested Citation

  • F Green & Steven McIntosh, 2000. "Working on the Chain Gang? An Examination of Rising Effort Levels in Europe in the 1990s," CEP Discussion Papers dp0465, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0465

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichengreen, B., 1992. "Should the Maastricht Treaty be Saved?," Princeton Studies in International Economics 74, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    2. Frankel, Jeffrey A & Rose, Andrew K, 1998. "The Endogeneity of the Optimum Currency Area Criteria," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 1009-1025, July.
    3. Cohen, Daniel & Wyplosz, Charles, 1989. "The European Monetary Union: An Agnostic Evaluation," CEPR Discussion Papers 306, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Beetsma, Roel & Uhlig, Harald, 1999. "An Analysis of the Stability and Growth Pact," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 546-571, October.
    5. Funke, Michael, 1997. "The Nature of Shocks in Europe and in Germany," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(255), pages 461-469, August.
    6. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Bent E. Sørensen & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Risk Sharing and Industrial Specialization: Regional and International Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 903-918, June.
    7. Funke, Michael & Hall, Stephen & Ruhwedel, Ralf, 1999. "Shock Hunting: The Relative Importance of Industry-Specific, Region-Specific and Aggregate Shocks in the OECD Countries," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 67(0), pages 49-65, Supplemen.
    8. Fatas, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "Government size and automatic stabilizers: international and intranational evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 3-28, October.
    9. Williamson, John, 1998. "Crawling Bands or Monitoring Bands: How to Manage Exchange Rates in a World of Capital Mobility," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 59-79, October.
    10. Bayoumi, Tamim & Masson, Paul R, 1998. "Liability-Creating versus Non-liability-Creating Fiscal Stabilisation Policies: Ricardian Equivalence, Fiscal Stabilisation, and EMU," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 1026-1045, July.
    11. Rose, Andrew K, 1999. "One Money, One Market: Estimating the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 2329, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Jeffrey Sachs, 1991. "Fiscal Federalism and Optimum Currency Areas: Evidence for Europe From the United States," NBER Working Papers 3855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Decressin, Jorg & Fatas, Antonio, 1995. "Regional labor market dynamics in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1627-1655, December.
    14. Jeffrey A. Frankel and Andrew K. Rose., 1996. "Economic Structure and the Decision to Adopt a Common Currency," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C96-073, University of California at Berkeley.
    15. Kletzer, Kenneth M., 1997. "Macroeconomic stabilization with a common currency: Does European Monetary Unification create a need for fiscal insurance of federalism?," ZEI Working Papers B 04-1997, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    16. Bayoumi, Tamim & Masson, Paul R., 1995. "Fiscal flows in the United States and Canada: Lessons for monetary union in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 253-274, February.
    17. Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1998. "The Stability Pact: more than a minor nuisance?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 65-113, April.
    18. Beetsma, Roel M. W. J. & Lans Bovenberg, A., 1998. "Monetary union without fiscal coordination may discipline policymakers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 239-258, August.
    19. Kenen,Peter B., 1995. "Economic and Monetary Union in Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521558839, May.
    20. Honohan, Patrick & Lane, Philip R, 1999. "Pegging to the Dollar and the Euro," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 379-410, November.
    21. Sorensen, Bent E. & Yosha, Oved, 1998. "International risk sharing and European monetary unification," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 211-238, August.
    22. Maurice Obstfeld & Giovanni Peri, 1998. "Regional non-adjustment and fiscal policy," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 205-259, April.
    23. Tamim Bayoumi & Eswar Prasad, 1997. "Currency Unions, Economic Fluctuations, and Adjustment: Some New Empirical Evidence," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 36-58, March.
    24. Bent E. S�rensen & Oved Yosha, 1998. "International Risk Sharing and European Monetary Unification," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 327, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    25. Willem H. Buiter, 1999. "The EMU and the NAMU: What is the Case for North American Monetary Union?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(3), pages 285-305, September.
    26. Gerald Caprio & Michael Dooley & Danny Leipziger & Carl Walsh, 1996. "The lender of last resort function under a currency board: The case of Argentina," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 625-650, March.
    27. Bofinger, Peter, 1994. "Is Europe an Optimum Currency Area?," CEPR Discussion Papers 915, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    28. John F. Helliwell & Ross McKitrick, 1999. "Comparing Capital Mobility Across Provincial and National Borders," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(5), pages 1164-1173, November.
    29. Marco BUTI & Daniele FRANCO & Hedwig ONGENA, 1997. "Budgeetary Policies during Recessions : Retrospective Application of the Stability and Growth Pact” to the Post-War Period," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1997041, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    30. Burda, Michael C., 1999. "European labor markets and the Euro: How much flexibility do we really need?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1999,41, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    31. Melitz, Jacques & Zumer, Frederic, 1999. "Interregional and international risk-sharing and lessons for EMU," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 149-188, December.
    32. Thomas Willett & Edward Tower, 1970. "Currency areas and exchange-rate flexibility," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 105(1), pages 48-65, September.
    33. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-623, June.
    34. Nickell, Stephen & Nunziata, Luca, 2000. "Employment patterns in OECD countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20198, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    35. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2000. "When Capital Inflows Come to a Sudden Stop: Consequences and Policy Options," MPRA Paper 6982, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    36. Canzoneri, Matthew B & Rogers, Carol Ann, 1990. "Is the European Community an Optimal Currency Area? Optimal Taxation versus the Cost of Multiple Currencies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 419-433, June.
    37. Michael Artis & Bernhard Winkler, 1998. "The Stability Pact: Safeguarding the Credibility of the European Central Bank," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 163(1), pages 87-98, January.
    38. Barry Eichengreen & Jurgen von Hagen, 1996. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Union: Is There a Tradeoff between Federalism and Budgetary Restrictions?," NBER Working Papers 5517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. K.H. Midelfart & H.G. Overman & S.J. Redding & A.J. Venables, 2000. "The location of European industry," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 142, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    40. Matthew Canzoneri & Behzad Diba, 1999. "The Stability and Growth Pact: A Delicate Balance or an Albatross?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 241-258, September.
    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. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2003. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 762-781, October.
    2. Overman, Henry G., 2000. "Neighbourhood effects in small neighbourhoods," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20139, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. French, Stephen & Kubo, Katsuyuki & Marsden, David, 2000. "Why does performance pay de-motivate: financial incentives versus performance appraisal," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3639, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Stephen Nickell & Patricia Jones & Glenda Quintini, 2002. "A Picture of Job Insecurity Facing British Men," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 1-27, January.
    5. Burgess, Simon & Profit, Stefan, 2001. "Externalities in the matching of workers and firms in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20130, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Litwin, Adam Seth, 2000. "Trade unions and industrial injury in Great Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20169, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item


    Work effort; international comparisons;

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


    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:dp0465. 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.