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Francesca G Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Weicheng Lian, and Mr. Damiano Sandri
Using high-frequency proxies for economic activity over a large sample of countries, we show that the economic crisis during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic was only partly due to government lockdowns. Economic activity also contracted because of voluntary social distancing in response to higher infections. We also show that lockdowns can substantially reduce COVID-19 infections, especially if they are introduced early in a country's epidemic. Despite involving short-term economic costs, lockdowns may thus pave the way to a faster recovery by containing the spread of the virus and reducing voluntary social distancing. Finally, we document that lockdowns entail decreasing marginal economic costs but increasing marginal benefits in reducing infections. This suggests that tight short-lived lockdowns are preferable to mild prolonged measures.
Giang Ho and Rima Turk-Ariss
This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the labor market integration of migrants across Europe. It investigates how successfully migrants integrate in 13 European countries by applying a unified framework to analyze a rich micro dataset with over ten million individuals surveyed between 1998 and 2016. Focusing on employment outcomes, we document substantial heterogeneity in the patterns of labor market integration across host countries and by migrant gender and origin. Our results also point to the importance of cohorts and network effects, initial labor market conditions, and the differential impact of education acquired domestically and abroad in determining migrants’ subsequent employment prospects. The analysis has implications for the design of effective integration policies.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Finland’s public sector balance sheet. The public sector balance sheet approach expands analysis of public finances beyond government debt to also include government assets, public corporations, and pension liabilities. For Finland, it shows that static public sector net worth is negative at some 160 percent of GDP. This implies that Finland’s future fiscal balances and policies will have to be sufficiently strong to compensate, and also to address future spending pressures from rising health and long-term care. The intertemporal balance sheet shows that Finland’s current medium-term fiscal framework meets this criterion—but only if health and social services reform achieves the targeted savings in public spending during the 2020s. In light of numerous risks it would be prudent to use the present economic upswing to make early headway in rebuilding buffers. Finland has a track record of prudent fiscal policy. During good economic times, the authorities have run sizable fiscal surpluses.
Mr. Ruy Lama and Juan Pablo Medina Guzman
This paper studies the Swedish fiscal consolidation episode of the 1990s through the lens of a small open economy model with distortionary taxation and unemployment. We argue that the simultaneous reduction in the fiscal deficit and unemployment rate in this episode stems from two factors: (i) high growth rates of total factor productivity (TFP), experienced after the implementation of structural reforms; and (ii) a sustained wage restraint that occurred during the 1990s. The model simulations show that economic growth, accounted for mostly by TFP gains, improved the fiscal balance by 8 percentage points of GDP through an expansion of the tax base and fiscal revenues. Moreover, the combination of stable wages and higher TFP boosted net exports and led to a reduction in the unemployment rate. A counterfactual simulation assuming stagnant TFP shows that fiscal consolidation measures alone would have generated a double-digit unemployment rate without eliminating the fiscal deficit.
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 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Sweden's economy is performing well, with real GDP growth of 3.4 percent per year in the first three quarters of 2015, up from 2.3 percent in 2014. Job creation was robust in the first three quarters of 2015, helping bring the unemployment rate down to 7.2 percent in the third quarter. Core inflation rose to 1.4 percent per year on average in recent months, but remains below the 2 percent target. Solid growth of about 3 percent is expected to continue into 2016.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This Selected Issues paper examines the labor market and migration in Sweden. Sweden enjoys a broadly well-functioning labor market. The labor force has been expanding at a healthy pace, in part reflecting rising participation including by females. This paper discusses the compositional changes in the labor force, employment, and unemployment over the past decade. A brief overview of migration flows, their composition, and their demographic benefits is provided. An assessment of the potential implications of the projected increase in migration for unemployment is done. The features of Sweden's labor market that contribute to the higher unemployment rates of the lower skilled and foreign-born are also outlined.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes structural shocks, productivity, and growth in Finland. Finland has gone from being a top-performing advanced economy to a growth laggard since 2007. The rapid decline of the (previously) high productivity information and communications technology sector in recent years has weighed on overall growth and productivity. An analysis of industry-level data indicates that shifts in the sectoral distribution of labor and capital toward lower productivity sectors are also contributing to slower aggregate productivity growth. Firm-level analysis suggests that the aggregate total factor productivity impact of reallocating resources within sectors is limited, although there is more scope to reallocate resources between sectors.