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Patterns of work across the OECD

  • Giulia Faggio
  • Stephen Nickell

Market work per person of working age differs widely across the OECD countries and there have been some significant changes in the last forty years. How to explain this pattern? Taxes are part of the story but much remains to be explained. If we include all the elements of the social security systems like early retirement benefits, sickness and disability benefits and unemployment benefits, then we can capture some aspects of the overall pattern but still a lot remains unexplained. The story favoured by Alesina et al. (CEPR DP.5140, 2005) is that the nexus of strong unions, generous welfare and social democracy implies both high taxes and pressure in favour of work-sharing in response to adverse shocks. This story, however, falls foul of the simple fact that most Scandinavian countries now do much more work than the French and Germans despite having stronger unions, more generous welfare, higher taxes and more social democracy. Ultimately, we are forced into the position that there is no simple story. Some of the broad patterns can be explained but there remain country specific factors which are hard to identify but lead to substantial differences from one country to another.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19853/
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19853.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19853
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment in OECD Countries," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(2), pages 13-26, October.
  2. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "The Beveridge curve, unemployment and wages in the OECD from the 1960s to the 1990s - preliminary version," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20113, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F7-F28, 02.
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  5. Davis, Steven J. & Henrekson, Magnus, 2004. "Tax Effects on Work Activity, Industry Mix and Shadow Economy Size: Evidence from Rich-Country Comparisons," Ratio Working Papers 57, The Ratio Institute.
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  7. Koeniger, Winfried & Leonardi, Marco & Nunziata, Luca, 2004. "Labour Market Institutions and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1291, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2004. "Why are European Countries Diverging in their Unemployment Experience?," IDEI Working Papers 269, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  9. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  10. Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2005. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages F397-F412, November.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2005. "Work and Leisure in the U.S. and Europe: Why So Different?," NBER Working Papers 11278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Francesco Daveri & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Unemployment, growth and taxation in industrial countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 47-104, 04.
  13. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel, 2005. "Unemployment in the OECD Since the 1960s. What Do We Know?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 1-27, 01.
  14. Lawrence Kahn, 2003. "Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment in OECD Countries," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(4), pages 25-32, October.
  15. Romain Duval, 2003. "Retirement Behaviour in OECD Countries: Impact of Old-Age Pension Schemes and other Social Transfer Programmes," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2003(2), pages 7-50.
  16. Bound, John & Burkhauser, Richard V., 1999. "Economic analysis of transfer programs targeted on people with disabilities," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 51, pages 3417-3528 Elsevier.
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