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Is there more to the Dutch miracle than a lot of part-time jobs?

  • Salverda, Wiemer

    (Groningen University)

The Netherlands is known for its rapid growth of part-timejobs, its strong wage moderation, and its low level of wage inequality. At the same time, the rate of unemployment has become favourably low, even below that of the US now. This is known as the 'Dutch miracle', in particular whilst in the carly 1980s the Dutch labour market performed much worse than elsewhere. The Netherlands is also known for its 'model', that is its institutions and the policies pursued. The consensus in policy making - involving government, trade unions and employers - appears to have enabled the prolonged wage moderation. The two aspects are often claimed to be systematically related, the miracle being the result of the model This paper aims to question Dutch performance and its relation to the model. We will examine the claims being made, having a good look at both the transformation of labour market and the evolution of the economy. Starting from the miracle the paper works its way via the policies to the model. We discuss the policies pursued and what the Dutch model stands for and whether the performance relates to this model of decision-making and the specific policies. Thus, the question is if the outcomes relate to conscious actions following indeed from the Dutch model and not, conversely, whether the Dutch model necessarily generates such policies nor whether other models could have generated the same results. Finally, what may have worked in the Dutch context may not do so in the future or in another country, and such issues should be considered as well. As a result of this approach, the Dutch labour market success appears to loose some of its shine and also its relation to the policies, particularly to wage moderation, may be less straightforward than is often suggested. Also, the link between the policies and the model appears to be only partial. Finally, for drawing lessons for other countries as well as for the Dutch future one should be aware of the specific Dutch labour market situation at the outset, particularly the very low female participation of the 1970s.

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Paper provided by University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management) in its series Research Report with number 99C46.

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Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dgr:rugsom:99c46
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