Labor Market Institutions and Unemployment: A Critical Assessment of the Cross-Country Evidence

Aug 2003 | 168

Authors: Andrew Glyn, Dean Baker, Centre for Economic and Policy Research, Washington,David Howell, New School University, New York,John Schmitt


This paper provides a critical view of the cross country literature on the impact of labour market institutions and policies on the evolving pattern of unemployment in OECD countries. Such widely used indicators as the generosity of unemployment insurance or the strength of trade unions are neither strongly correlated individually with unemployment nor contribute robust and well defined impacts on unemployment within increasingly sophisticated multivariate literature. Our own tests, with a comprehensive data set covering 1960-99, show how dependent the estimated effects are to the particular indicators used and periods covered and overall suggest that a relatively minor role for the institutions and policies in accounting for unemployment patterns.

JEL Codes: E24, J68

Keywords: Unemployment, institutions, OECD


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