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On the Determinants of Labour Market Institutions: Rent Seeking vs. Social Insurance

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Abstract

What determines the structure of labour market institutions? I argue that common explanations based on rent seeking are incomplete. Unions, job protection, and egalitarian pay structures may have as much to do with social insurance of otherwise uninsurable risks as with rent seeking. In support of this more benign complementary hypothesis the paper presents a range of historical, theoretical, and cross-country evidence. The social insurance perspective changes substantially the positive analysis of the future of European labour market institutions. It is not clear that globalisation and the “new economy” will force countries to make their labour markets more flexible. These phenomena will probably increase the efficiency costs of existing institutions, but they may also make voters more willing to pay a high premium to preserve institutions that provide insurance.

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  • Agell, Jonas, 2001. "On the Determinants of Labour Market Institutions: Rent Seeking vs. Social Insurance," Research Papers in Economics 2001:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2001_0012
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    Keywords

    Labour market institutions; comparative historical evidence; Sweden; Massachusetts; rent seeking; social insurance; union models; cross-country regressions; openness; linguistic fractionalisation;

    JEL classification:

    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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