This Selected Issues paper highlights that over the past decade, the Netherlands has undergone a remarkable fiscal adjustment, with the deficit, the tax burden, and the expenditure-to-GDP ratio falling significantly. The switch from a deficit-target-based to an expenditure-target-based fiscal framework in 1994 and commitments to two successive four-year fiscal plans have played an important role. The current multiyear framework expires in 2002, and the Study Group on the Budgetary Margin has produced recommendations for the coming government period.
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix constructs an index of human capital for the Spanish labor force over 1977–97, and projects it over the next decade on the basis of likely demographic developments. The methodology by which the index is constructed considers both educational attainments resulting from formal schooling and improvements in workers’ productivity resulting from experience, or “learning by doing.” The results suggest that the gains from increases in formal schooling can be large, although they are translated into higher economic growth only gradually.
This Selected Issues paper examines Germany’s growth record in 1992–2001 and analyzes how future performance might be enhanced. The paper focuses on the longer-term strains on the public finances. It reviews Germany’s external competitiveness, which deteriorated substantially in the wake of unification, and concludes that, by the beginning of the current decade, competitiveness had been largely restored. The paper also examines the recent slowdown in credit, which has gone beyond what might be expected on cyclical grounds.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the wage moderation in the Netherlands. Wage growth has been subdued in the Netherlands despite tighter labor market conditions in recent years. Besides various cyclical factors, rising labor market flexibility may have contributed to the wage moderation in the Netherlands. Like other advanced economies, slower productivity growth and lower expected inflation are important drivers to the wage moderation in the recent years. In addition to that, remaining slack in the labor market also weighed on wage growth. Going forward, wages are expected to grow faster given higher expected inflation, foreign wage spillovers, and tightening labor market.