nep-eec New Economics Papers
on European Economics
Issue of 2006‒10‒21
24 papers chosen by
Giuseppe Marotta
Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia

  1. Decomposing the co-movement of the business cycle: a time-frequency analysis of growth cycles in the euro area By Crowley , Patrick; Lee , Jim
  2. Inflation persistence and price-setting behaviour in the euro area : a summary of the Inflation Persistence Network evidence By Filippo Altissimo; Michael Ehrmann; Frank Smets
  3. Deregulated Wholesale Electricity Prices in Europe By Bruno Bosco; Lucia Parisio; Matteo Pelagatti; Fabio Baldi
  4. Comovements and heterogeneity in the Comovements and heterogeneity in the dynamic factor model By Eickmeier, Sandra
  5. The role of expectations in the inflation process in the euro area By Paloviita , Maritta; Virén , Matti
  6. How hard is the euro are core? An evaluation of growth cycles using wavelet analysis By Crowley , Patrick; Maraun , Douglas; Mayes , David
  7. Comparing alternative Phillips curve specifications: European results with survey-based expectations By Paloviita , Maritta
  8. Policy words and policy deeds: the ECB and the euro By Siklos, Pierre; Bohl , Martin
  9. Price and wage setting in an integrating Europe : firm level evidence By Filip Abraham; Jozef Konings; Stijn Vanormelingen
  10. Wage Mobility in Europe. A Comparative Analysis Using restricted Multinomial Logit Regression By Pavlopoulos, Dimitris; Muffels, Ruud; Vermunt, Jeroen-K.
  11. Technology and Labor Regulations By Alberto Alesina; Joseph Zeira
  12. Estimating a Collective Household Model with Survey Data on Financial Satisfaction By Rob Alessie; Thomas F. Crossley; Vincent Hildebrand
  13. The structural dynamics of output growth and inflation: some international evidence By Fabio Canova; Luca Gambetti; Evi Pappa
  14. Why the marginal MRO rate exceeds the ECB policy rate? By Välimäki , Tuomas
  15. How wages change : micro evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project By William T. Dickens; Lorenz Goette; Erica L. Groshen; Steinar Holden; Julian Messina; Mark E. Schweitzer; Jarkko Turunen; Melanie E. Ward
  16. Producer Prices in the Transition to a Common Currency By Andrén, Niclas; Oxelheim, Lars
  17. Fiscal sustainability indicators and policy design in the face of ageing By Geert Langenus
  18. Did US Safeguard Protection on Steel Affect Market Power of European Steel Producers? By Hylke Vandenbussche; Ziga Zarnic
  19. The R&D Drop in European Utilities. Should we care about it? By Alessandro Sterlacchini
  20. The Determinants of Motherhood and Work Status: a Survey By Daniela Del Boca; Marilena Locatelli
  21. Contagion and interdependence: measuring CEE banking sector co-movements By Jokipii , Terhi; Lucey, Brian
  22. The cyclical behaviour of European bank capital buffers By Jokipii, Terhi; Milne , Alistair
  23. Dynamics of Change in the Public Service Sector : a comparison of working conditions in french and german hospitals By Karen Jaehrling; Philippe Méhaut
  24. The Evolution of Top Incomes in an Egalitarian Society; Sweden, 1903–2004 By Roine, Jesper; Waldenstrom, Daniel

  1. By: Crowley , Patrick (Bank of Finland Research and College of Business, Texas A&M University); Lee , Jim (College of Business, Texas A&M University)
    Abstract: This article analyses the frequency components of European business cycles using real GDP by employ-ing multiresolution decomposition (MRD) with the use of maximal overlap discrete wavelet transforms (MODWT). Static wavelet variance and correlation analysis is performed, and phasing is studied using co-correlation with the euro area by scale. Lastly dynamic conditional correlation GARCH models are used to obtain dynamic correlation estimates by scale against the EU to evaluate synchronicity of cycles through time. The general findings are that euro area members fall into one of three categories: i) high and dynamic correlations at all frequency cycles (eg France, Belgium, Germany), ii) low static and dy-namic correlations, with little sign of convergence occurring (eg Greece), and iii) low static correlation but convergent dynamic correlations (eg Finland and Ireland).
    Keywords: business cycles; growth cycles; European Union; multiresolution analysis; wavelets; co-correlation; dynamic correlation
    JEL: C65 E32 O52
    Date: 2005–05–11
  2. By: Filippo Altissimo (European Central Bank); Michael Ehrmann (European Central Bank); Frank Smets (European Central Bank)
    Abstract: This paper provides a summary of current knowledge on inflation persistence and price stickiness in the euro area, based on research findings that have been produced in the context of the Inflation Persistence Network. The main findings are: i) Under the current monetary policy regime, the estimated degree of inflation persistence in the euro area is moderate; ii) Retail prices in the euro area are more sticky than in the US; iii) There is significant sectoral heterogeneity in the degree of price stickiness; iv) Price decreases are not uncommon. The paper also investigates some of the policy implications of these findings
    Keywords: price-setting; inflation persistence; monetary policy; EMU
    JEL: E31 E42 E52
    Date: 2006–10
  3. By: Bruno Bosco; Lucia Parisio; Matteo Pelagatti; Fabio Baldi
    Abstract: This paper analyses the interdependencies existing in the European electricity prices. The results of a multivariate dynamic analysis of weekly median prices reveal the presence of strong integration (but not perfect integration) among the markets considered in the sample and the existence of a common trend among electricity prices and oil prices. This implies that there are no long-run arbitrage opportunities. The latter result appears to be relevant also in the context of the discussion of efficient hedging instruments to be used by medium-long term investors.
    Keywords: European electricity prices, Cointegration, Interdependencies, Equilibrium Correction model, Oil prices
    JEL: C32 D44 L94 Q40
    Date: 2006–10
  4. By: Eickmeier, Sandra
    Abstract: This paper seeks to assess comovements and heterogeneity in the euro area by fitting a nonstationary dynamic factor model (Bai and Ng, 2004), augmented with a structural factor setup (Forni and Reichlin, 1998), to a large set of euro-area macroeconomic variables observed between 1982 and 2003. This framework allows us to estimate stationary and non-stationary common factors and idiosyncratic components, to identify the structural shocks behind the common factors and assess their transmission to individual EMU countries. Our most important findings are the following. EMU countries share five common trends. However, the source of non-stationarity of individual countries’ key macroeconomic variables is not only pervasive. Instead, most countries’ output and inflation are also affected by long-lasting idiosyncratic shocks. Unweighted dispersion is primarily due to idiosyncratic shocks rather than the asymmetric spread of common shocks. However, the latter seems to be the main driving force of weighted dispersion of output at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s and again from 1999 on and of inflation in the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s. To examine the transmission of common shocks to individual EMU countries in more detail, we identify five structural common shocks, namely two euro-area supply shocks, one euro-area demand shock, one common monetary policy shock and a US shock. We find similar output and inflation responses across countries (with some exceptions), and similarity generally increases with the horizon.
    Keywords: Dynamic factor models, sign restrictions, common trends, common cycles, international business cycles, EMU, output and inflation differentials
    JEL: C3 E32 E5 F00
    Date: 2006
  5. By: Paloviita , Maritta (Bank of Finland Research); Virén , Matti (University of Turku)
    Abstract: This paper analyses the role of inflation expectations in the euro area. On one hand, the question is how inflation expectations affect both inflation and output, and, on the other hand, how inflation expectations reflect developments in these variables. The analyses make use of a simple VAR model of inflation, inflation expectations and the output gap that allows for an analysis of the dynamic interrelationship between these variables. This model is estimated on aggregate euro area data, pooled euro area country data and individual country data for the period 1979–2003. The empirical results give strong support for the idea that inflation expectations are the key ingredient of the inflationary process for the whole euro area and for most individual countries as well. Inflation expectations also have a significant negative impact on output. As for the determination of inflation expectations, it turns out that they are relatively persistent, almost as persistent as output. Even so, and especially in the medium term, inflation expectations adapt to developments in both output and (actual) inflation.
    Keywords: inflation; expectations; monetary policy; Phillips curve
    JEL: E31 E52
    Date: 2005–02–13
  6. By: Crowley , Patrick (College of Business, Texas A&M University); Maraun , Douglas (Nonlinear Dynamics Group Physics Institute, University of Potsdam); Mayes , David (Monetary Policy and Research Department,)
    Abstract: Using recent advances in time-varying spectral methods, this research analyses the growth cycles of the core of the euro area in terms of frequency content and phasing of cycles. The methodology uses the con-tinuous wavelet transform (CWT) and also Hilbert wavelet pairs in the setting of a non-decimated discrete wavelet transform in order to analyse bivariate time series in terms of conventional frequency domain measures from spectral analysis. The findings are that coherence and phasing between the three core members of the euro area (France, Germany and Italy) have increased since the launch of the euro.
    Keywords: time-varying spectral analysis; coherence; phase; business cycles; EMU; growth cycles; Hilbert trans-form; wavelet analysis
    JEL: C19 C63 C65 E32 E39 E58 F40
    Date: 2006–09–27
  7. By: Paloviita , Maritta (Bank of Finland Research)
    Abstract: This paper examines inflation dynamics in Europe. Econometric specification tests with pooled European data are used to compare the empirical performance of the New Classical, New Keynesian and Hybrid specifications of the Phillips curve. Instead of imposing any specific form of expectations formation, di-rect measures, ie Consensus Economics survey data are used to proxy economic agents’ inflation expecta-tions. According to the results, the New Classical Phillips curve has satisfactory statistical properties. Moreover, the purely forward-looking New Keynesian Phillips curve is clearly outperformed by the New Classical and Hybrid Phillips curves. We interpret our results as indicating that the European inflation process is not purely forward-looking, and inflation cannot instantaneously adjust to changes in expecta-tions. Consequently, even allowing for possible non-rationality in expectations, a lagged inflation term enters the New Keynesian Phillips curve for inflation dynamics in Europe.
    Keywords: Phillips curve; expectations; Europe
    JEL: C52 E31
    Date: 2005–10–11
  8. By: Siklos, Pierre (Department of Economics and Viessmann Research Centre on Modern Europe, Wilfrid Laurier University); Bohl , Martin (Department of Economics, Westfälische Wilhelms University Münster)
    Abstract: This paper examines the role of the ECB communication activities on daily Eurodollar exchange rate and interest rates. We estimate the relationship between monetary policy and the exchange rate using a technique that explicitly recognises the joint determination of both the levels and volatilities of these variables. We also consider more traditional estimation strategies as a test of the robustness of our main results. We introduce a new indicator of ECB communications policies that focuses on what the ECB says about the future economic outlook for the euro area along five different economic dimensions. The impact of ECB communications policies is more apparent in the time series framework than in the heteroskedasticity estimator approach. Previous studies that conclude that news effects are significant at the daily frequency may have reached such a conclusion because the measurement of news was too highly aggregated. The endogeneity of the exchange rate – interest rate relationship is more apparent when the proxy for monetary policy is the euro area – US differential than when any other proxy for monetary policy is employed. Finally, interest rate changes generally have a much larger impact on exchange rate movements, and their volatility, than do ECB verbal pronouncements.
    Keywords: communication policy; exchange rates; interest rates; volatility
    JEL: E50 E60 F30
    Date: 2006–04–11
  9. By: Filip Abraham (Faculty of Economics and Applied Economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven); Jozef Konings (Faculty of Economics and Applied Economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; LICOS, Centre for Transition Economics; Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; CEPR, London); Stijn Vanormelingen (Faculty of Economics and Applied Economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
    Abstract: Europe has witnessed the last decade an accelerated process of economic integration. Trade barriers were removed, the euro was introduced and ten new member states entered the European Union. Economic integration is likely to have an impact on both labor and product markets. Unlike most other papers, that focus on product and labor markets separately, we look at the link between globalization and product and labor market imperfections simultaneously. To this end, we rely on a rich panel of manufacturing firms in Belgium, a small open economy. We find that union bargaining power is higher in sectors characterized by high price cost margins. Moreover, ignoring imperfections on the labor market, leads to an underestimation of product market power. Concerning the influence of globalization, our main findings are that both price cost margins and union bargaining power are typically lower in sectors that are subject higher international competition. This result is especially true for competition from low wage countries
    Keywords: Mark-ups, Trade Unions, International Trade
    JEL: F16 J50 L13
    Date: 2006–10
  10. By: Pavlopoulos, Dimitris; Muffels, Ruud; Vermunt, Jeroen-K.
    Abstract: In this paper, we investigate cross-country differences in wage mobility in Europe using the European Community Household Panel. The paper is particularly focused on examining the impact of economic conditions, welfare state regimes and employment regulation on wage mobility. We apply a log-linear approach that is very much similar to a restricted multinomial logit model and much more flexible than the standard probit approach. It appears that regime, economic conditions and employment regulation explain a substantial part of the cross-country variation. The findings also confirm the existence of an inverse U-shape pattern of wage mobility, showing a great deal of low and high-wage persistence in all countries.
    Keywords: wages; wage mobility; wage dynamics; multinomial logit regression; loglinear models; welfare states
    JEL: J3 C19 J31
    Date: 2005–10
  11. By: Alberto Alesina; Joseph Zeira
    Abstract: Many low skilled jobs have been substituted away for machines in Europe, or eliminated, much more so than in the US, while technological progress at the "top," i.e., at the high-tech sector, is faster in the US than in Europe. This paper suggests that the main difference between Europe and the US in this respect is their different labor market policies. European countries reduce wage flexibility and inequality through a host of labor market regulations, like binding minimum-wage laws, permanent unemployment subsidies, firing costs, etc. Such policies create incentives to develop and adopt labor-saving capital intensive technologies at the low end of the skill distribution. At the same time technical progress in the US is more skill biased than in Europe, since American skilled wages are higher.
    JEL: O3 O4
    Date: 2006–10
  12. By: Rob Alessie; Thomas F. Crossley; Vincent Hildebrand
    Abstract: We estimate a collective household model with survey data on financial satisfaction from the European Community Household Panel. Our estimates suggest that cohabitating individuals enjoy returns to scale in consumption that are towards the larger end of the range of estimates reported in the literature. They also suggest that the share of household income provided by the female partner is a significant determinant of her share of household consumption in most of the countries we study.
    Keywords: consumption, returns to scale, collective household models
    JEL: D12 D13 I31
    Date: 2006–09
  13. By: Fabio Canova; Luca Gambetti; Evi Pappa
    Abstract: We examine the dynamics of output growth and inflation in the US, Euro area and UK using a structural time varying coe¢ cient VAR. There are important similarities in structural inflation dynamics across countries; output growth dynamics differ. Swings in the magnitude of inflation and output growth volatilities and persistences are accounted for by a combination of three structural shocks. Changes over time in the structure of the economy are limited and permanent variations largely absent. Changes in the volatilities of structural shocks matter
    Keywords: Variability, Persistence, Transmission, Structural time varying VARs
    JEL: C11 E12 E32 E62
    Date: 2006–04
  14. By: Välimäki , Tuomas (Bank of Finland)
    Abstract: In the Eurosystem, banks’ interest rate expectations should no longer have resulted in a non-zero tender spread, the difference between marginal and minimum price for liquidity, when the ECB reformed its op-erational framework for monetary policy implementation in March 2004 so that the policy rates remain constant within reserves maintenance periods. Yet, the tender spread was wider in 2005 than in any single year after 2000, when the ECB switched from fixed to variable rate tenders. Parts of the relevant literature have argued that because of the ECB’s asymmetric preferences over deviations of the market rates up and down from the policy rate, the shortest euro interest rates persistently exceed the policy rate This paper argues, however, that when the central bank applies a quantity oriented liquidity policy, a positive tender spread may result from money market inefficiencies and banks’ risk aversion even if the central bank preferences are symmetric and the markets do not anticipate any changes in the policy rates. In such a case, the driving force behind the tender spread is banks’ uncertainty about their individual allotments at the marginal rate for the Eurosystem main refinancing operations (MROs). Furthermore, the allotment uncertainty is shown to be significantly related to the amount of liquidity supplied in each operation. Hence, the expansion in the MRO volumes experienced since 2002 may have had a major contribution to the emergence and observed growth of the tender spread.
    Keywords: main refinancing operations; liquidity; tender spread; allotments
    JEL: D44 E58
    Date: 2006–10–03
  15. By: William T. Dickens (The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.); Lorenz Goette (University of Zurich); Erica L. Groshen (Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn); Steinar Holden (University of Oslo; Research Fellow, Center for Economic Studies--Information and Forschung Institute (CESifo), Munich); Julian Messina (European Central Bank; Universitat de Girona, Italy; Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), Università di Salerno, Italy); Mark E. Schweitzer (Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Ohio); Jarkko Turunen (European Central Bank); Melanie E. Ward (European Central Bank; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn)
    Abstract: How do the complex institutions involved in wage setting affect wage changes? The International Wage Flexibility Project provides new microeconomic evidence on how wages change for continuing workers. We analyze individuals’ earnings in 31 different data sets from sixteen countries, from which we obtain a total of 360 wage change distributions. We find a remarkable amount of variation in wage changes across workers. Wage changes have a notably non-normal distribution; they are tightly clustered around the median and also have many extreme values. Furthermore, nearly all countries show asymmetry in their wage distributions below the median. Indeed, we find evidence of both downward nominal and real wage rigidities. We also find that the extent of both these rigidities varies substantially across countries. Our results suggest that variations in the extent of union presence in wage bargaining play a role in explaining differing degrees of rigidities among countries
    Keywords: Wage setting, Wage change distributions, Downward nominal wage rigidity, Downward real wage rigidity
    JEL: E3 J3 J5
    Date: 2006–10
  16. By: Andrén, Niclas (Institute of Economic Research); Oxelheim, Lars (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)
    Abstract: We analyze producer price developments in the transition from a national exchange rate regime to a monetary union. The focus is on the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Stylized facts witness about an exploding gaps in producer-price inflation during the years immediately following the completion of the EMU. Price convergence is found to be an important driver throughout the entire euro period (1999-2005), but with no significant differences in speed compared to the pre euro period. Productivity growth had its primary effect in the first years and effective exchange-rate changes in the later years of the euro period.
    Keywords: Producer prices; Relative prices; Price convergence; Euro; Balassa-Samuelson
    JEL: E31 E44 F15 F23 G34
    Date: 2006–09–22
  17. By: Geert Langenus (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)
    Abstract: Mainly due to increasing concerns about the potential impact of population ageing the sustainability of public finances has become one of the key issues in fiscal assessments. This paper briefly reviews the different theoretical benchmarks and empirical tests for sustainability and assesses the sustainability of public finances in euro area countries on the basis of the latest projections of the Ageing Working Group of the EU Economic Policy Committee. Two alternative operational indicators for fiscal sustainability are proposed and appropriate policy options to restore fiscal sustainability are explored for three individual euro area countries. Pre-funding strategies that create the budgetary room that is needed to finance ageing costs in advance require important consolidation efforts for most euro area countries and can imply aiming at significant budgetary surpluses in the coming years for some. However, a simplified technical exercise assessing the evolution of the fiscal burden of the average worker shows that such strategies generally imply a more even distribution of the fiscal burden across generations than more gradual adjustment strategies.
    Keywords: population ageing, fiscal sustainability, medium-term objectives for fiscal policy
    JEL: H55 H60
    Date: 2006–10
  18. By: Hylke Vandenbussche; Ziga Zarnic
    Abstract: This paper empirically investigates the effects of US safeguard protection on steel imports in 2002 on the mark-ups of EU steel producers. We identify a large panel of European steel producers between 1995 and 2004 affected by the safeguards. Using the Roeger method, our results show that US safeguards significantly reduced EU firms’ mark-ups. Single-product EU steel firms suffered relatively more from the protection than multi-product firms. Controlling for firm heterogeneity, these results are robust to alternative specifications. Our evidence further suggests that US protection resulted in some rerouting of European steel especially towards China, aggravating the situation on the Chinese steel market and ultimately resulting in Chinese trade protection of steel imports.
    Keywords: Firm data; Markups; Safeguards; Steel industry; Trade deflection
    JEL: F13 L13 L61
    Date: 2006
  19. By: Alessandro Sterlacchini
    Abstract: By using accounting data from the largest utility companies of Europe, this note illustrates the recent R&D performance in energy and telecommunication. Although not all the companies under consideration behaved symmetrically, most of them reduced substantially their R&D investment. Over the period 2000-05, their total R&D expenditures at current prices decreased by 33%, while their R&D intensity (on sales) diminished from 1.1 to 0.7%. In discussing the above findings, it is argued that a drop of this size is hardly justifiable and weakens the EU economy in a non-negligible manner.
    Keywords: R&D performance; energy and telecommunication utilities
    JEL: O32 O38 L50 L97
    Date: 2006
  20. By: Daniela Del Boca; Marilena Locatelli
    Abstract: In this paper we present important empirical evidence regarding recent trends in women’s participation and fertility in European countries, and provide several interpretations of the differences across countries. Several recent analyses have considered labour supply and fertility as a joint decision and have explicitly taken into account the endogeneity of fertility in labour market participation decisions of women. We survey microeconomic analyses that explore the impact of social policies on the joint decisions of labor market participation and fertility. The results of most analyses indicate that social policies, taking into account several variables (family background, the allocation of time within the household, religion and culture), have a very relevant role in explaining different degrees of incompatibility between employment and child rearing across different countries. The incompatibilities between motherhood and careers find reconciliation in policies that enhance employment flexibility and diminish the potential opportunity costs of children.
    Keywords: Labor Market Decisions, Fertility, Child care, Family Policies
    JEL: J2 C3 D1 H31
    Date: 2006–10
  21. By: Jokipii , Terhi (Bank of Finland and Trinity College Dublin); Lucey, Brian (Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin)
    Abstract: Making use of ten years of daily data, this paper examines whether banking sector co-movements be-tween the three largest Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) can be attributed to contagion or to interdependence. Our tests based on simple unadjusted correlation analysis uncover evidence of conta-gion between all pairs of countries. Adjusting for market volatility during turmoil, however, produces dif-ferent results. We then find contagion from the Czech Republic to Hungary during this time, but all other cross-market co-movements are rather attributable rather to strong cross-market linkages. In addition, we construct a set of dummy variables to try to capture the impact of macroeconomic news on these markets. Controlling for own-country fundamentals, we discover that the correlations diminish between the Czech Republic and Poland, but that coefficients for all pairs remain substantial and significant. Finally, we ad-dress the problem of simultaneous equations, omitted variables and heteroskedasticity, and adjust our data accordingly. We confirm our previous findings. Our tests provide evidence in favour of parameter insta-bility, again signifying the existence of contagion arising from problems in the Czech Republic affecting Hungary during much of 1996.
    Keywords: contagion; interdependence; macroeconomic news; banking sector; stock returns
    JEL: F30 F40 G15
    Date: 2006–07–03
  22. By: Jokipii, Terhi (Bank of Finland Research); Milne , Alistair (Bank of Finland and Cass Business School London)
    Abstract: Using an unbalanced panel of commercial, savings and co-operative banks for the years 1997 to 2004 we examine the cyclical behaviour of European bank capital buffers. After controlling for other potential de-terminants of bank capital, we find that capital buffers of the banks in the accession countries (RAM) have a significant positive relationship with the cycle, while for those in the EU15 and the EA and the combined EU25 the relationship is significantly negative. We additionally find fairly slow speeds of ad-justment, with around two-thirds of the correction towards desired capital buffers taking place each year. We further distinguish by type and size of bank, and find that capital buffers of commercial and savings banks, and also of a sub-sample of large banks, exhibit negative co-movement. Co-operative banks and smaller banks on the other hand, tend to exhibit positive cyclical co-movement.
    Keywords: bank capital; bank regulation; business cycle fluctuations
    JEL: G21 G28
    Date: 2006–09–27
  23. By: Karen Jaehrling (IAT - Institut Arbeit und Technik - [Universität der Arbeit]); Philippe Méhaut (LEST - Laboratoire d'économie et de sociologie du travail - [CNRS : UMR6123] - [Université de Provence - Aix-Marseille I][Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II])
    Abstract: The paper is a very preliminary step to analyse and discuss theses questions in the specific field of the health care sector, in a comparative perspective between Germany and France. It is based on data and preliminary case studies gathered in the framework of the “Future of Low Wage Work in Europe” research, done in European countries for the Russell Sage Foundation. Focusing on the Hospital sector, and on low wage/low skilled occupations within the sector has advantages and difficulties. On the one hand, one can argue that the specificities of the sector (public activity, public regulations) are too high to arrive at conclusions on the process of change in the whole economy. But on the other hand, the health financing system and other recent developments exert similar pressures as in other industries and lead to similar reactions and changes in the competitive structures (section 1). And focusing on low level occupations allows us to escape (or to be at the margin) of the occupational and medical rules governing other occupations in the sector (such as doctors and nurses): it is the lowest segment of the hospitals labour force where hospitals compete on the labour market with other activities (cleaning, home personal care for example). A study of the low skill/low wage sector of the labour market also profits from the fact that this segment is often said to be more exposed to the change. Another advantage is that the high level of female employment in this industry is representative of one of the main changes within the employment structure, and of what is often regarded as the main deregulated (or at risk of deregulation) segment of the labour force. Section 2 will investigate the various institutional rules, which characterized the previous employment system within hospitals. Section 3 will present and discuss the main changes affecting the employment relationship and the way by which, in the two countries, institutional frameworks are transformed, bypassed and/or unchanging. We will particularly compare wage levels and structures and the proliferation of ‘atypical' employment.
    Keywords: Hôpital; Secteur public; Emploi; Condition de travail; Bas salaire; Relation professionnelle; Comparaison; France; Allemagne
    Date: 2006–10–11
  24. By: Roine, Jesper (Stockholm School of Economics); Waldenstrom, Daniel (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)
    Abstract: This study presents new homogenous series of top income shares in Sweden over the period 1903–2004. We find that, starting from levels of inequality approximately equal to those in other Western countries at the time, the income share of the Swedish top decile drops sharply over the first eighty years of the twentieth century. Most of the decrease takes place before the expansion of the welfare state and by 1950 Swedish top income shares were already lower than in other countries. The fall is almost entirely due to a dramatic drop in the top percentile explained mostly by decreases in capital income, while the lower half of the top decile – consisting mainly of wage earners – experiences virtually no change over this period. In the past decades top income shares evolve very differently depending on whether capital gains are included or not. When included, Sweden’s experience resembles that in the U.S. and the U.K. with sharp increases in top incomes. Excluding capital gains, Sweden looks more like the continental European countries where top income shares have remained relatively constant. A possible interpretation of our results is that Sweden over the past 20 years has been a country where it is more important to make the right financial investments than to earn a lot to become rich.
    Keywords: Income inequality; Income distribution; Wealth distribution; Top incomes; Welfare state; Sweden; Taxation; Capital gains
    JEL: D31 H20 J30 N30
    Date: 2006–06–21

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