The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Australia's remarkable economic performance during the 1990s has not resulted in a significant convergence of real per capita income, output, and employment levels across the country's states and territories. This paper explores the role of certain economic rigidities that may have contributed to the lack of convergence, including rigidities in labor markets and in the structure of federal government transfers to households and subnational governments. The analysis suggests that the wage awards system has restricted the adjustment of real wages to productivity differentials, thus contributing to higher unemployment rates in some states. Federal government transfers to households also appear to have adversely affected work incentives in high unemployment states by limiting participation in the labor force.