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Differences in hours worked in the OECD: institutions or fiscal policies?



This paper studies the determinants of the level and the evolution of per capita hours worked in a panel of OECD countries since the 1970s. Following Pesaran (Econometrica, 2006), our empirical strategy allows for the possibility of cross-sectionally correlated error terms due to unobserved common factors which are potentially non-stationary. We find that much of the variation in hours worked across countries and over time can be explained by differences in fiscal policy, i.e. differences in the level and structure of taxes and in the structure of government expenditures. Hours worked rise when labour taxes and non-employment benefits fall and when the shares of productive government expenditures and government wage consumption increase. Differences in (the evolution of) labour and product market institutions have much less of a role to play. Our results show that a careful treatment of the time-series properties of the data is crucial.

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Paper provided by Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in its series Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium with number 09/601.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:09/601
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  1. Berger, Tino & Everaert, Gerdie, 2010. "Labour taxes and unemployment evidence from a panel unobserved component model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 354-364, March.
  2. Daveri, Francesco & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Unemployment, Growth and Taxation in Industrial Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 1681, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Taxation and market work: is Scandinavia an outlier?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 59-85, July.
  4. M. Hashem Pesaran, 2006. "Estimation and Inference in Large Heterogeneous Panels with a Multifactor Error Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 967-1012, 07.
  5. Smith, Ron P. & Zoega, Gylfi, 2007. "Global Factors, Unemployment Adjustment and the Natural Rate," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-48, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  6. 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.
  7. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
  8. George Kapetanios & M. Hashem Pesaran & Takashi Yamagata, 2006. "Panels with Nonstationary Multifactor Error Structures," Working Papers 569, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  9. T. Dhont & F. Heylen, 2006. "Employment and growth in Europe and the US - The role of fiscal policy composition," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 06/420, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  10. Giulia Faggio & Stephen Nickell, 2006. "Patterns of work across the OECD," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19853, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Paul Conway & Donato de Rosa & Giuseppe Nicoletti & Faye Steiner, 2006. "Regulation, Competition and Productivity Convergence," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 509, OECD Publishing.
  12. Jushan Bai & Serena Ng, 2000. "Determining the Number of Factors in Approximate Factor Models," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 440, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2006. "Employment Patterns in OECD Countries: Reassessing the Role of Policies and Institutions," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 486, OECD Publishing.
  15. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2003. "Macroeconomic Effects Of Regulation And Deregulation In Goods And Labor Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 879-907, August.
  16. Peter C. B. Phillips & Donggyu Sul, 2003. "Dynamic panel estimation and homogeneity testing under cross section dependence *," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 6(1), pages 217-259, 06.
  17. Christophe Planas & Werner Roeger & Alessandro Rossi, 2004. "How much has labour taxation contributed to European structural unemployment?," Econometrics 0408005, EconWPA.
  18. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Stefano Scarpetta, 2005. "Product Market Reforms and Employment in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 472, OECD Publishing.
  19. Orsetta Causa, 2008. "Explaining Differences in Hours Worked among OECD Countries: An empirical analysis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 596, OECD Publishing.
  20. Maddala, G S & Wu, Shaowen, 1999. " A Comparative Study of Unit Root Tests with Panel Data and a New Simple Test," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(0), pages 631-52, Special I.
  21. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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