IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Reforms, Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Performance in Germany


  • Carlin, Wendy
  • Soskice, David


The conventional diagnosis of Germany’s poor economic performance focuses on supply-side weaknesses and the need for more vigorous reforms to make low-skill labour markets more flexible. We question this on both theoretical and empirical grounds. In an extended version of a New Keynesian model shifts in aggregate demand can move the economy along a range of constant-inflation medium-run unemployment equilibria. The evolution of the real exchange rate and the external balance help to identify whether aggregate supply or aggregate demand shifts have been dominant in accounting for changes in unemployment. We provide some prima facie evidence for Germany and the UK that aggregate demand factors have played an important role in sustaining growth in the UK and weakening it in Germany over the medium run. We show that Germany has a relatively strong record in implementing OECD recommended reforms but the expected employment effects in low-skill service sectors appear disappointing and poverty has increased. By contrast, it is in high productivity sectors including services that the German economy has performed well, especially in exports. Here labour markets are not flexible in the conventional sense: codetermination, vocational training, and coordinated wage bargaining are important. We pursue the implications of these claims for the design and political economy of reforms in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlin, Wendy & Soskice, David, 2007. "Reforms, Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Performance in Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 6415, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6415

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number heck04-1, January.
    2. Adda & Dustmann, 2004. "Career Progression and Formal versus on the Job Training," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 492, Econometric Society.
    3. Carlin Wendy & Soskice David, 2005. "The 3-Equation New Keynesian Model --- A Graphical Exposition," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-38, December.
    4. Jordi Galí & J. David López-Salido & Javier Vallés, 2007. "Understanding the Effects of Government Spending on Consumption," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(1), pages 227-270, March.
    5. Leonor Coutinho, 2005. "Fiscal Policy in the New Open Economy Macroeconomics and Prospects for Fiscal Policy Coordination," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 789-822, December.
    6. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881.
    7. Rowthorn, R E, 1977. "Conflict, Inflation and Money," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(3), pages 215-239, September.
    8. Christopher Allsopp & David Vines, 2005. "The Macroeconomic Role of Fiscal Policy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 485-508, Winter.
    9. Dean Baker & Andrew Glyn & David Howell & John Schmitt, 2002. "Labor Market Institutions and Unemployment: A Critical Assessment of the Cross-Country Evidence," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2002-17, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    10. Carlin, Wendy & Soskice, David, 2005. "Macroeconomics: Imperfections, Institutions, and Policies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776222.
    11. James J. Heckman, 2002. "Flexibility and Job Creation: Lessons for Germany," NBER Working Papers 9194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Philippe Aghion & Ioana Marinescu, 2008. "Cyclical Budgetary Policy and Economic Growth: What Do We Learn from OECD Panel Data?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2007, Volume 22, pages 251-278 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. David R. Howell & Dean Baker & Andrew Glyn & John Schmitt, 2006. "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions Really at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Perspective on the Statistical Evidence," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2006-14, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    14. David Soskice, 1994. "Reconciling Markets and Institutions: The German Apprenticeship System," NBER Chapters,in: Training and the Private Sector: International Comparisons, pages 25-60 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Olivier Giraud & Arnaud Lechevalier, 2009. "L'éclatement de la norme d'emploi en Allemagne et en France au tournant du siècle," Post-Print halshs-00532915, HAL.
    2. Ronald Schettkat & Rongrong Sun, 2009. "Monetary policy and European unemployment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 94-108, Spring.
    3. Till van Treeck, 2012. "Did inequality cause the U.S. financial crisis?," IMK Working Paper 91-2012, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    4. Damiani, Mirella & Pompei, Fabrizio, 2009. "Labour protection and productivity in the European economies: 1995-2005," MPRA Paper 12710, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Jean-Paul POLLIN, 2010. "l eurosystème et l'intégration financière européenne," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 832, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.

    More about this item


    aggregate demand; German economic performance; labour market reforms; macroeconomic policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • J59 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Other

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:cpr:ceprdp:6415. 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.