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Anatomy of Policy Complementarities

Author

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  • Orszag, Mike

    () (Towers Watson)

  • Snower, Dennis J.

    () (Kiel Institute for the World Economy)

Abstract

The analysis provides a new explanation for two widespread problems concerning European unemployment policy: the disappointingly small effect of many past reform measures on unemployment, and the political difficulties in implementing more extensive reform programs. We argue that the heart of these problems may be the failure of many European governments to implement broad-based reform strategies. Our analysis suggests that major unemployment policies are characterised by economic complementarities (in the sense that the effectiveness of one policy depends on the implementation of other policies) and political complementarities (in that the ability to gain political consent for one policy depends on the acceptance of other policies). Under these circumstances, incremental, small-scale adjustments of existing policy packages are doomed to failure. Our analysis suggests instead that the European unemployment problem should be tackled through "broad" reforms that exploit the salient economic and political complementarities among individual policy measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Orszag, Mike & Snower, Dennis J., 1999. "Anatomy of Policy Complementarities," IZA Discussion Papers 41, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp41
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor market policy; economic complementarities; political economy; unemployment; unemployment benefits; taxation; inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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