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Mrs. Jana Bricco, Florian Misch, and Alexandra Solovyeva
This paper examines the economic effects of policies to contain Covid-19, by extracting lessons from Sweden’s experience during the ‘Great Lockdown’. Sweden’s approach was less stringent and based more on social responsibility than legal obligations compared to European peers. First, we provide an account of Sweden’s strategy and the health outcomes. Second, drawing on a range of data sources and empirical findings, our analysis of the first Covid-19 wave indicates that a less stringent strategy can soften the economic impact initially. These benefits could be eroded subsequently, due to potentially higher infection rates and a prolonged pandemic, but in Sweden’s case, the evidence remains mixed in this regard, and it is premature to judge the outcome of Sweden’s containment strategy. In addition, the economic effects of the containment strategy also depend on social behavior, demographics and structural features of the economy, such as the degree of export orientation, reliance on global supply chains, and malleability to remote working.
Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper analyzes regional labor mobility in Finland using two complementary empirical approaches: a VAR proposed by Blanchard and Katz (1992) and a gravity model. The results point to a relatively limited regional labor mobility in Finland compared to the U.S. and to EU peers. The limited regional labor mobility is associated with persistent unemployment differentials across regions. Some impediments to regional labor mobility are exogenous, such as large geographical distances across regions and relatively sparse population density, and explain about 23 percent of the variation in labor mobility. Others can be influenced by policy, such as further increase in wage flexibiltiy and reduction of housing costs. These impediments explain about 60 percent of the variation in labor mobility. Greater regional labor mobility could help reduce regional unemployment differentials, improve job matching efficiency, and remove pressures from regional fiscal redistribution.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses the impact of workforce aging on productivity in the euro area. The euro area population has aged considerably over the past few decades, and the process is expected to accelerate in the years ahead. At the same time, labor productivity growth in the euro area has been sluggish, posing risks to long-term growth prospects. It is estimated that workforce aging could significantly retard total factor productivity (TFP) growth over the medium to long term. Given current demographic projections from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the aging of the workforce in the euro area could lower TFP growth by about 0.2 percentage points each year between 2014 and 2035. Appropriate policies can, however, mitigate the adverse effects of aging.
Giang Ho and Ms. Kazuko Shirono
The large influx of migrants to Nordic countries in recent years is challenging the adoptability of Nordic labor market institutions while also adding to potential growth. This paper examines the trends, economic drivers, and labor market implications of migration to Nordic countries with a particular focus on economic migration as distinct from the recent large flows of asylum seekers. Our analysis finds that migration inflows to the Nordics are influenced by both cyclical and structural factors. Although migration helpfully dampens overheating pressures during periods of strong demand, and over the longer term will cushion the decline in labor supply from population aging, in the near-term unemployment can rise, especially among the young and lower-skilled. The analysis highlights the need to adapt Nordic labor market institutions in a manner that better facilitates the integration of migrants into employment. In particular, greater wage flexibility at the firm level and continued strong active labor market measures will help improve labor market outcomes among immigrants.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes Norway’s economy that has a maturing oil and gas industry. Norway’s half century of good fortune from its oil and gas wealth may have peaked. Oil and gas production will continue for many decades on current projections, but output and investment have flattened out, and the spillovers from the offshore oil and gas production to the mainland economy may have turned from positive to negative. Thus far, economic policy has needed to focus on managing the windfall, and Norway’s institutions have been a model for other countries. Going forward, the challenges are expected to become more complex.
Yuko Kinoshita and Fang Guo
Both Japan and Korea are trying to boost female labor force participation (FLFP) as they face the challenges of a rapidly aging population. Though FLFP has generally been on a rising trend, the female labor force in both countries is skewed towards non-regular employment despite women’s high education levels. This paper empirically examines what helps Japan and Korea to increase FLFP by type (i.e., regular vs. non-regular employment), using the SVAR model. In so doing, we compare these two Asian countries with two Nordic countries Norway and Finland. The main findings are: (i) child cash allowances tend to reduce the proportion of regular female employment in Japan and Korea, (ii) the persistent gender wage gap encourages more non-regular employment, (iii) a greater proportion of regular female employment is associated with higher fertility, and (iv) there is a need for more public spending on childcare for age 6-11 in Japan and Korea to help women continue to work.
International Monetary Fund
The paper is an account of Finland’s unexpected upcoming deceleration in the economy at the end of 2011 and later. The deleveraging of the financial sector and the debt crisis made the nation fear an inevitable recession. To sustain this vulnerable situation, due attention was given to short-term growth and long-term challenges. Banks were encouraged to build up capitals and toughen bank decrees. Plans were made to multiply labor power and productivity. At the end of the paper, the Board welcomed the commitment of the state in improving and safeguarding the financial sector.
Mr. Marc G Quintyn and Sophia Gollwitzer
This paper tests the theoretical framework developed by North, Wallis and Weingast (2009) on the transition from closed to open access societies. They posit that societies need to go through three doorsteps: (i) the establishment of rule of law among elites; (ii) the adoption of perpetually existing organizations; and (iii) the political control of the military. We identify indicators reflecting these doorsteps and graphically test the correlation between them and a set of political and economic variables. Finally, through Identification through Heteroskedasticity we test these relationships econometrically. The paper broadly confirms the logic behind the doorsteps as necessary steps in the transition to open access societies. The doorsteps influence economic and political processes, as well as each other, with varying intensity. We also identify income inequality as a potentially important force leading to social change.