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Anatomy of policy complementarities


  • Orszag, Mike
  • Snower, Dennis J.


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., 1998. "Anatomy of policy complementarities," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 2252, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkie:2252

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David T. Coe & Dennis J. Snower, 1997. "Policy Complementarities: The Case for Fundamental Labor Market Reform," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 1-35, March.
    2. Francesco Daveri & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Unemployment, growth and taxation in industrial countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 47-104, April.
    3. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Alessio J.G. & Merkl, Christian & Snower, Dennis J., 2011. "Comparing the effectiveness of employment subsidies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 168-179, April.
    2. Agenor, Pierre-Richard & Nabli, Mustapha K. & Yousef, Tarik & Jensen, Henning Tarp, 2007. "Labor market reforms, growth, and unemployment in labor-exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 277-309.
    3. Alessio Brown & Johannes Koettl, 2015. "Active labor market programs - employment gain or fiscal drain?," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-36, December.
    4. Bernhard Boockmann, 2010. "The Combined Employment Effects of Minimum Wages and Labor Market Regulation—a Meta-Analysis," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 61(Supplemen), pages 167-188.
    5. Chen, Yu-Fu & Funke, Michael, 2008. "Product market competition, investment and employment-abundant versus job-poor growth: A real options perspective," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 218-238, March.
    6. repec:crs:ecosta:es419-420b is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Boeri, Tito, 2000. "Social Europe: Dramatic Visions and Real Complexity," CEPR Discussion Papers 2371, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Lechthaler, Wolfgang & Snower, Dennis J., 2012. "Institutions and training inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 88-104.
    9. Lloyd-Braga, Teresa & Modesto, Leonor, 2007. "Indeterminacy in a finance constrained unionized economy," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3-4), pages 347-364, April.
    10. Eichhorst, Werner & Kaiser, Lutz C., 2006. "The German Labor Market: Still Adjusting Badly?," IZA Discussion Papers 2215, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Michael C. Burda & Mark Weder, 2002. "Complementarity of Labor Market Institutions, Equilibrium Unemployment and the Propagation of Business Cycles," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, February.
    12. Gabriele Cardullo & Bruno Van der Linden, 2007. "Employment Subsidies and Substitutable Skills: An Equilibrium Matching Approach," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 53(4), pages 375-404.
    13. Philippe Aghion & Philippe Askenazy & Renaud Bourlès & Gilbert Cette & Nicolas Dromel, 2008. "Distance à la frontière technologique, rigidités de marché, éducation et croissance," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 419(1), pages 11-30.
    14. Chen Yu-Fu & Funke Michael, 2009. "Threshold Effects of Dismissal Protection Regulation and the Emergence of Temporary Work Agencies," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(4), pages 1-29, September.
    15. Eichhorst, Werner, 2007. "The Gradual Transformation of Continental European Labor Markets: France and Germany Compared," IZA Discussion Papers 2675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Yu-Fu Chen & Michael Funke, 2006. "Threshold Effects of Dismissal Protection Regulations and Employment Dynamics," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 195, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
    17. Berthold Norbert, 2000. "Mehr Beschäftigung, weniger Arbeitslosigkeit: Setzt sich das ökonomische Gesetz gegen (verbands-)politische Macht durch?," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 51(1), pages 231-260, January.
    18. Hans Pitlik & Margit Schratzenstaller, 2011. "Growth Implications of Structure and Size of Public Sectors," WIFO Working Papers 404, WIFO.

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