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Are European labor markets as awful as all that?

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  • Freeman, Richard B.

Abstract

“The standard explanation of why advanced Europe has generated less work per adult than the US is that something is seriously amiss with EU labor markets. The theme of this piece is simple. Compared to an ideal competitive market, EU labor markets fall seriously short, but compared to labor markets in the US and to other markets in advanced capitalist countries, EU labor markets do not live up to their awful press. The variety of labor market institutions among EU countries, moreover, reveals a much richer picture of performance and diversity than the blanket condemnation of inflexibility suggests. I make my case in four propositions, with supporting evidence. My comparisons are with the actual labor market in the US and with other real world markets, not with the economists’ dream ideal competitive markets. I review briefly the evidence that labor markets in the EU have performed worse on the quantity side of the market but better on the price or wage side of the market than the US labor market, then consider the extent to which differences in outcomes are attributable to differences in the performance of labor markets.”

Suggested Citation

  • Freeman, Richard B., 2004. "Are European labor markets as awful as all that?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19946, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19946
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19946/
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    Cited by:

    1. Nick Adnett & Stephen Hardy, 2007. "The peculiar case of age discrimination: Americanising the European social model?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 29-41, February.
    2. Chatterji, Monojit, 2008. "Training hold up and social labour markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 202-214, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labour markets; US; EU; labour market institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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