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The Determinants of Unemployment across OECD Countries

  • Andrea Bassanini


    (ERMES - Equipe de recherche sur les marches, l'emploi et la simulation - CNRS - UP2 - Université Panthéon-Assas - M.E.N.E.S.R. - Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche)

  • Romain Duval

    (ECO - Economics Department - OCDE)

This paper explores the impact of policies and institutions on unemployment in OECD countries over the past decades. Reduced-form unemployment equations, consistent with standard wage setting/price-setting models, are estimated using cross-country/time-series data from 21 OECD countries over the period 1982-2003. In the “average” OECD country, high and long-lasting unemployment benefits, high tax wedges and stringent anti-competitive product market regulation are found to increase aggregate unemployment. By contrast, highly centralised and/or coordinated wage bargaining systems are estimated to reduce unemployment. These findings are robust across specifications, datasets and econometric methods. The paper also finds evidence of interactions across policies and institutions, as well as between institutions and shocks. Some specific interactions across policies and institutions are found to be particularly robust, notably between unemployment benefits and public spending on active labour market programmes as well as between statutory minimum wages and the tax wedge. Finally, it is shown that macroeconomic conditions also matter for unemployment patterns, with their impact being shaped by policies.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00120584.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Publication status: Published in OECD Economic Studies, 2006, pp.7-86
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00120584
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