High home ownership as a driver of high unemployment
Andrew J Oswald18 June 2013
Unemployment is once again the bane of the US and Europe. This column highlights an intriguing association between home ownership and high unemployment using US state-level data. Given the heavy subsidisation of and rise in home ownership, this association merits more attention from economists.
Antonio Cabrales, Juan Dolado, José García-Montalvo
Unemployment matters. It is a major source of unhappiness, mental ill-health, and lost income. Yet after a century of economic research the determinants of unemployment are still imperfectly understood, and jobless levels in the industrialised nations are currently around 10%, with some over 20%.
If you search for ‘unemployment’ in the Web of Science, within the Social Science Citation Index a list of around 21,000 articles appears. For economics journals alone, there are approximately 10,000. The most prominent among these are:
Job placement and displacement: Evidence from a randomised experiment
Bruno Crépon, Esther Duflo, Marc Gurgand, Roland Rathelot, Philippe Zamora24 April 2013
Youth unemployment in Europe seems to be sticking around. This column assesses youth unemployment policy in France using data from a controlled experiment. ‘Job counselling’ – a key French policy that prepares some job seekers for the recruitment process, and connects them with potential employers – seems to only marginally improve graduate’s chances of employment. Moreover, the evidence suggests that what’s good for one graduate may be bad for another: the beneficiaries of intensive job counselling are more likely to find employment simply at the expense of other job seekers.
Youth unemployment is a growing concern in many countries, including France where more than a quarter of recent graduates cannot find stable work. Some of these young graduates do not benefit from resources like unemployment benefits because they lack a sufficient employment history.
Budget balance, structural unemployment and fiscal adjustments: The Spanish case
Javier Andrés, Rafael Doménech05 April 2013
Fiscal adjustment and structural reform are key parts of Eurozone bailout packages (or key features of government policy that aims to avoid such bailouts). This column argues that patience is the most prized virtue of policymakers implementing fiscal adjustment and structural reform. Reducing unemployment and fiscal consolidation are mutually reinforcing, but they move at different speeds.
One of the most important questions in the current process of fiscal consolidation in many developed economies concerns the size and the pace of the adjustment. An excessive and/or too-fast fiscal retrenchment can have dramatic effects on unemployment and growth, while if it is too slow, it can prove to be ineffective and lack credibility in the eyes of the financial markets. Thus, when the debt-to-GDP ratio is high and there is limited fiscal space, the challenge is to find the proper balance between growth, efficiency and credibility of the fiscal adjustment.
How do we solve worryingly high unemployment across Europe? In a time of crisis, would reform actually exacerbate unemployment? This column argues that labour markets – especially in southern Europe – have to be reformed, presenting policy prescriptions to that effect. If we are to break the back of sluggish labour markets, policymakers need to learn from Europe’s success stories.
Samuel Bentolila, Juan Dolado, Juan Francisco Jimeno
Unemployment continues to rise in the Eurozone and is increasingly drawing attention to its sluggish labour markets. There is a lingering suspicion that these markets are not flexible enough; that wage growth (real and in money terms) does not respond sufficiently to unemployment. Labour-market reform has featured prominently in the bailout agreements reached between the Troika and Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. Reform is surely a good thing. But what is it meant to achieve? What should and can be done? Is the time now ripe for reform?
Jobs and growth are still linked (that is, Okun’s Law still holds)
Laurence Ball, Daniel Leigh, Prakash Loungani26 January 2013
Will recovery be jobless? A broad array of analysts, from Vox columnists to McKinsey, are arguing that Okun’s Law is broken. This column presents new research suggesting that, in fact, Okun is alive and well. When output recovers, the jobs will come back, although employment will differ across countries. There may be good reasons for the structural reforms that many propose as a way to boost job creation, but undertaking them in the belief that Okun’s Law has broken down should not be one of them.
Unemployment rates remain high in most advanced countries. Many scholars have drawn attention to an apparent decoupling of unemployment increases from output declines during the Great Recession (e.g. IMF 2010, Cazes et al. 2011).
It’s not a skill mismatch: Disaggregate evidence on the US unemployment-vacancy relationship
Rand Ghayad, William Dickens05 January 2013
US unemployment seems stuck at an unusually high level of 8%, prompting some to suggest a widespread skills mismatch. This column argues that a skills mismatch is not supported by the evidence. Rather, out of the possible explanations, it seems that any shift in the ratio between unemployment and vacancies is driven by either lower search efforts by the long-term unemployed or by a reduction in their employability.
The Beveridge curve – the empirical relationship between unemployment and vacancies – is thought to be an indicator of the efficiency of the functioning of the labour market. Normally when vacancies rise, unemployment falls following a curved path that typically remains stable over long periods of time.
Africa's recent growth is impressive, yet its rate of stable job creation is anything but. This column argues that Africa needs rapid growth in stable, wage-paying jobs in order to ensure future stable growth and prosperity. African governments must develop and implement targeted jobs strategies – which focus on labour-intensive, competitive industries – to get the most out Africa’s rapid economic emergence.
Africa’s recent economic performance has been impressive. With average annual growth of 5.1% over the past ten years, the continent is the second fastest-growing region in the world (IMF 2012). The share of people in extreme poverty is falling. Since 2000, 31 million African households have joined a 90 million-strong consuming class with discretionary income to spend or save1.
Jobless recoveries and the disappearance of routine occupations
Henry Siu, Nir Jaimovich06 November 2012
The US economy is recovering. But what explains the stubborn malaise in its labour market? This column argues that future recovery from recession will likely be jobless because technological advances and mechanisation now enable troubled firms to shed middle-income jobs in favour of machines and automation. If these jobs are not recouped during subsequent economic recovery, future recoveries may well remain jobless.
Temporary employment: The trade-off between efficiency and equity
Elke Jahn, Regina T. Riphahn, Claus Schnabel10 October 2012
Economic policymakers across Europe have sought to increase labour market flexibility by promoting the use of temporary employment. This column points to a possible trade-off between efficiency and equity when deregulating labour markets, suggesting that flexible forms of employment can be both a boon and a bane for labour markets and for society as a whole.
Over the last three decades, the use of flexible forms of employment such as fixed-term and temporary agency work contracts has increased substantially throughout much of Europe. This development has been driven by government efforts to ease restrictions on temporary employment, whereas the regulation of permanent contracts has been left essentially unaltered. The reforms of temporary employment have intended to increase overall employment by lowering dismissal and adjustment costs for flexible jobs and thereby providing firms with new opportunities.
Since the onset of the great recession in peripheral Europe, nominal hourly wages have not fallen much from the high levels they had reached during the boom years in spite of widespread increases in unemployment. This paper analyses a number of national and supranational policy options for alleviating the unemployment problem, arguing that it is unlikely that a solution will come from within national borders.