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The Rise and Fall of Swedish Unemployment

  • Bertil Holmlund

By international standards, unemployment in Sweden remained remarkably low throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. In the early 1990s, however, the unemployment rate skyrocketed and hit double-digit levels. Unemployment remained high for several years but exhibited a marked fall from 1997 and onwards. The paper describes this development and discusses the causes of the rise and fall of unemployment. It is argued that the steep rise in unemployment was mainly the result of a series of adverse macroeconomic shocks, partly self-inflicted by bad policies and partly caused by unfavourable international developments. Institutional factors, such as a trend increase in the generosity of unemployment insurance, caused some secular rise in NAIRU but do not appear as promising explanations of the events of the early 1990s. The fall in unemployment in the late 1990s reflects a combination of favorable macroeconomic conditions and structural factors that may have reduced the NAIRU.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 918.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_918
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  1. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2001. "Macroeconomic Effects of Regulation and Deregulation in Goods and Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 8120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Holmlund, Bertil, 1997. "Macroeconomic Implications of Cash Limits in the Public Sector," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(253), pages 49-62, February.
  5. Heyman, Fredrik & Arai, Mahmood, 2002. "The Impact of Temporary Contracts on Gross Job and Worker Flows," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 0494, Stockholm School of Economics.
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  9. Holmlund, B. & Kolm, A.S., 1995. "Progressive Taxation, Wage Setting, and Unemployment , Theory and Swedish Evidence," Papers 1995-15, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  10. Jennifer Hunt, 1996. "Has Work-Sharing Worked in Germany?," NBER Working Papers 5724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Nymoen, Ragnar & Rodseth, Asbjorn, 2003. "Explaining unemployment: some lessons from Nordic wage formation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-29, February.
  12. Carling, Kenneth & Edin, Per-Anders & Harkman, Anders & Holmlund, Bertil, 1996. "Unemployment duration, unemployment benefits, and labor market programs in Sweden," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 313-334, March.
  13. Lars Calmfors & Anders Forslund & Maria Hemström, 2002. "Does Active Labour Market Policy Work? Lessons from the Swedish Experiences," CESifo Working Paper Series 675, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Robert Shimer, 1999. "The Impact of Young Workers on the Aggregate Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Holmlund, Bertil, 1993. "Wage setting in private and public sectors in a model with endogenous government behavior," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 149-162, May.
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  19. Martin, John P. & Grubb, David, 2001. "What works and for whom: a review of OECD countries' experiences with active labour market policies," Working Paper Series 2001:14, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  20. Fehr, Ernst, 2000. "The Robustness and Real Consequences of Nominal Wage Rigidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 2516, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  22. Rantala, Anssi, 2001. "Does monetary union reduce employment?," Research Discussion Papers 7/2001, Bank of Finland.
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  24. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-84119 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
  26. George A. Akerlof & William T. Dickens & George L. Perry, 2000. "Near-Rational Wage and Price Setting and the Long-Run Phillips Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 1-60.
  27. van Ours, J.C. & Nickell, S.J., 2000. "The Netherlands and the United Kingdom : A European unemployment miracle?," Other publications TiSEM 8dc4101d-6e72-44dd-9ab0-4, School of Economics and Management.
  28. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C1-33, March.
  29. Bengt Assarsson & Per Jansson, 1998. "Unemployment persistence: the case of Sweden," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 25-29.
  30. Mikael Apel & Per Jansson, 1999. "System estimates of potential output and the NAIRU," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 373-388.
  31. Holden, Steinar & Nymoen, Ragnar, 2002. " Measuring Structural Unemployment: NAWRU Estimates in the Nordic Countries," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(1), pages 87-104.
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