nep-eec New Economics Papers
on European Economics
Issue of 2009‒04‒18
ten papers chosen by
Giuseppe Marotta
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia

  1. Understanding Inter-Industry Wage Structures in the Euro Area By Genre, Véronique; Kohn, Karsten; Momferatou, Daphne
  2. Financial Vulnerability in the Central and Eastern European Countries By Irène Andreou; Aleksandra Zdzienicka
  3. Pension Schemes for the Self-Employed in OECD Countries By Jongkyun Choi
  4. Euro Membership as a U.K. Monetary Policy Option: Results from a Structural Model By Riccardo DiCecio; Edward Nelson
  5. Migration and Wage-Setting: Reassessing the Labor Market Effects of Migration By Herbert Brücker; Elke J. Jahn
  6. Do attitudes toward gender equality really differ between Norway and Sweden? By Jakobsson, Niklas; Kotsadam, Andreas
  7. Defined-Contribution (DC) Arrangements in Anglo-Saxon Countries By John Ashcroft
  8. From Marshallian District to Local Productive Systems: The Polish Case By Barbara Despiney
  9. Labour flows in Belgium By Pierrette Heuse; Yves Saks
  10. Income and the Demand for Complementary Health Insurance in France By Michel Grignon; Bidénam Kambia-Chopin

  1. By: Genre, Véronique (European Central Bank); Kohn, Karsten (KfW Bankengruppe); Momferatou, Daphne (European Central Bank)
    Abstract: This paper focuses on the euro area wage structure and its potential determinants from a sectoral viewpoint. Merging information from the OECD Structural Analysis database with data from the EU Labour Force Survey, we construct a cross-country panel of 22 industries in 8 euro area countries for 1991-2002. Data inspection confirms the existence of a fairly stable inter-industry wage structure that is similar across countries. We then apply panel data techniques to identify factors explaining inter-industry wage differentials in the euro area. Both workforce characteristics (e.g., human capital variables) and firm-related characteristics (e.g., capital intensity, productivity) contribute significantly. However, considerable wage heterogeneity across sectors remains. Idiosyncratic sector and country specifics, reflecting different socio-cultural and institutional backgrounds, appear to bear a major role. While our empirical analysis only uses direct evidence from workforce and firm-related characteristics, we also try to relate the remaining heterogeneity to institutional characteristics, based on related literature.
    Keywords: euro area, inter-industry wage differentials, panel estimation, firm and workforce characteristics, labour market institutions
    JEL: J31 J24 J51
    Date: 2009–04
  2. By: Irène Andreou (University of Lyon, Lyon, F-69003, France; CNRS, UMR 5824, GATE, Ecully, F-69130, France; ENS LSH, Lyon, F-69007, France); Aleksandra Zdzienicka (University of Lyon, Lyon, F-69003, France; CNRS, UMR 5824, GATE, Ecully, F-69130, France; ENS LSH, Lyon, F-69007, France)
    Abstract: In this work we use a panel probit model to analyze the sources of financial vulnerability in four Central and Eastern European countries. The incontestable advantages of applying this method, associated with some elements of the non-parametric approach applied during the initial selection of the used indicators, allow us to accomplish, rather well, this objective. Indeed, the model performs considerably well in the sample and the whole approach can provide useful and supportive instruments for the study of financial vulnerabilities in transition economies.
    Keywords: Financial Vulnerability, Panel Probit Model, CEECs
    JEL: C35 F31 F32
    Date: 2009
  3. By: Jongkyun Choi
    Abstract: The self-employed workers make up a small but significant minority of the workforce in many OECD countries. Moreover, transitions into and out of self-employment have become much more common for a larger group of workers. It is therefore of critical importance to review and assess the pension schemes available to self-employed workers across OECD countries. Given employment and income patterns commonly observed for this subgroup, it is also important to address the issue of compliance and enforcement towards a formal affiliation of this group to pension schemes on offer. This paper reviews three key aspects of pension schemes available to self-employed workers: coverage, contributions and benefits. In each part, analyses are undertaken not just by describing the rules governing these schemes but also looking into their actual functioning in terms of compliance and enforcement. Key findings include the fact that the self-employed are covered by the same pension schemes as those of employees in the majority of countries. One important difference is that, while employees share the contribution burden with their employers, the self-employed workers in most cases pay the full pension contribution from their own income. The rules for pension entitlements, on the other hand, are usually almost identical to those that apply to employees. One key conclusion emerging from this paper is that the pension provision for the self-employed is a matter of practical implementation of existing schemes rather than overhauling pension rules for these schemes. Low coverage is a common problem for this group in some OECD countries, as they belong to the informal sector and their incomes are hard to identify. Contribution evasion or under-reporting of income by the self-employed is prevalent even in some countries with high per capita income. This has implications as these self-employed workers will have lower levels of pension incomes at retirement. In some cases, low contributions coupled with relatively generous pension rights also raise an issue of equity in the provision of pensions for the self-employed and employees.<BR>Dans beaucoup de pays de l’OCDE, les travailleurs indépendants constituent, au sein de la population active, une minorité faible par la taille mais d’importance significative. En outre, pour un nombre accru de travailleurs, le passage au statut d’indépendant et l’abandon de ce statut est un processus bien plus courant aujourd’hui. En conséquence, il est crucial d’examiner et évaluer les régimes de pension qui sont à la disposition des travailleurs indépendants dans les différents pays de l’OCDE. Compte tenu de la structure de l’emploi et de celle du revenu généralement observées au sein de cette population, il importe également de s’intéresser au respect de l’obligation d’affiliation formelle de ces travailleurs aux régimes de pension qui leur sont proposés et aux moyens de les y contraindre. Ce document examine trois aspects clés des régimes de pension auxquels les travailleurs indépendants peuvent s’affilier : couverture, cotisations et prestations. Dans chaque partie, les analyses proposées ne se contentent pas de décrire les règles régissant ces dispositifs, mais portent aussi sur leur fonctionnement concret du point de vue du respect de l’obligation d’affiliation et des instruments de coercition. Les principales observations englobent le fait que, dans la majorité des pays, les travailleurs indépendants sont couverts par les mêmes régimes de retraite que les salariés, à ceci près, et la différence est de taille, que si les salariés partagent le poids des cotisations avec leurs employeurs, les travailleurs indépendants payent dans la plupart des cas les deux parts sur leur propre revenu. Par ailleurs, les règles régissant les droits à pension des indépendants sont généralement presque identiques à celles s’appliquant aux salariés. Une conclusion essentielle se dégage de ce document : en matière de retraite, la question qui se pose pour les travailleurs indépendants concerne l’application pratique des dispositifs existants et non la remise à plat des règles. Dans quelques pays de l’OCDE, les indépendants se heurtent à un même problème, celui du faible niveau de couverture, car cette catégorie de travailleurs relève du secteur informel, et ses revenus sont difficiles à cerner. La fraude fiscale et la sous-déclaration des revenus sont très répandues chez les travailleurs indépendants, même dans des pays où le revenu par habitant est élevé. Ce phénomène n’est pas sans conséquence car au moment de la retraite, le niveau de revenu que procurera à ces travailleurs leur pension sera plus modeste. Dans certains cas, le faible niveau des cotisations conjugué à la générosité des droits à pension soulève aussi un problème d’équité dans le financement des pensions des travailleurs indépendants et des salariés.
    JEL: H55 J23
    Date: 2009–04–09
  4. By: Riccardo DiCecio; Edward Nelson
    Abstract: Developments in open-economy modeling, and the accumulation of experience with the monetary policy regimes prevailing in the United Kingdom and the euro area, have increased our ability to evaluate the effects that joining monetary union would have on the U.K. economy. This paper considers the debate on the United Kingdom’s monetary policy options using a structural open-economy model. We use the Erceg, Gust, and López-Salido (EGL) (2007) model to explore both the existing U.K. regime (CPI inflation targeting combined with a floating exchange rate), and adoption of the euro, as monetary policy options for the United Kingdom. Experiments with a baseline estimated version of the model suggest that there is improved stability for the U.K. economy with monetary union. Once large differences in the degree of nominal rigidity across economies are considered, the balance tilts toward the existing U.K. monetary policy regime. The improvement in U.K. economic stability under monetary union also diminishes if imports from the euro area are modeled as primarily intermediates instead of finished goods; or if we assume that the pressures reflected in foreign exchange market shocks, instead of vanishing with monetary union, are now manifested as an additional source of disturbances to domestic aggregate spending.
    JEL: E32 E42 E52
    Date: 2009–04
  5. By: Herbert Brücker; Elke J. Jahn
    Abstract: This paper employs a wage-setting approach to analyze the labor market effects of immigration into Germany. The wage-setting framework relies on the assumption that wages tend to decline with the unemployment rate, albeit imperfectly. This enables us to consider labor market rigidities, which are particularly relevant in Europe. We find that the elasticity of the wage-setting curve is particularly high for young and well-educated workers. The labor market effects of immigration are moderate: a 1 percent increase in the German labor force through immigration increases the unemployment rate by less than 0.1 percentage points and reduces wages by 0.1 percent
    Keywords: Migration, wage-setting, labor markets, panel data
    JEL: F22 J31 J61
    Date: 2009–03
  6. By: Jakobsson, Niklas (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Kotsadam, Andreas (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: Using survey data from Norway and Sweden, we assess people’s attitudes towards gender equality. Previous studies argue that these attitudes are more egalitarian in Sweden than in Norway. Similar to previous research, we find that Swedes are more positive towards gender equality in general. However, we find no differences regarding views on egalitarian sharing of household responsibilities, and Norwegians are actually more supportive of government intervention to increase gender equality. This suggests that the lower support for gender equality in Norway is less robust than previously thought and that there is a larger scope for advancing the gender revolution in Norway via government policies than in Sweden.<p>
    Keywords: attitudes; norms; gender equality
    JEL: I20 Z13
    Date: 2009–04–06
  7. By: John Ashcroft
    Abstract: This paper provides a comparative analysis of defined contribution (DC) pension systems in Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. There are considerable similarities in the systems which have evolved out of employer sponsored trust-based defined benefit (DB) systems and have expanded at different rates as DB has declined. The plans predominantly offer individual accounts with a choice of funds, with virtually no guarantees of performance and few regulatory restrictions on investment. Most funds are heavily invested in equities, although there is a move in some of the countries to life-styling investments in the run-up to retirement. The paper finds notable contrasts between fiduciary requirements, the regulation of transparency and charges and the approach to the pay-out phase, which raise some important public policy questions.<P>Systèmes de pension à cotisations définies dans les pays anglo-saxons<BR>Ce document présente une analyse comparative des systèmes de pension à cotisations définies en Australie, en Irlande, au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis. Il existe de grandes similitudes dans les systèmes à cotisations définies qui tendent à remplacer les systèmes d‘entreprise à prestations définies gérés par des « trusts », selon des rythmes différents à mesure que la part des systèmes à prestations définies se réduit. Les plans à cotisations définies sont essentiellement bâtis sur des comptes individuels qui offrent un choix de fonds sur lesquels investir. Ils n‘apportent pratiquement pas de garantie de performance et les contraintes réglementaires en matière de placements auxquelles ils sont soumis sont limitées. La plupart des fonds sont fortement investis en actions, bien qu‘on assiste au développement, dans certains pays, de fonds à horizon dont le portefeuille d‘investissements se modifie à mesure que le souscripteur approche de la retraite. L‘étude relève des différences notables dans les exigences fiduciaires, dans les règles de transparence et dans les frais mis à la charge des participants, ainsi que dans les modalités de déblocage de l‘épargne, ce qui soulève d‘importantes questions dans l‘optique de l‘action des pouvoirs publics.
    Keywords: private pensions, pension privée, pension fund, fonds de pension, defined contribution, cotisations définies, default options, options par défaut
    JEL: G23 J32
    Date: 2009–03
  8. By: Barbara Despiney (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I)
    Abstract: The chapter concentrates on the positive development dynamics of "industrial districts" based on the network of Small an Medium-Sized firms in Poland.The crux of the matter is to establish whether or not industrial districts constitute a model for the regenaration of local and regional economies in Central European Countries.
    Keywords: regional development; industrial clusters; Poland
    Date: 2009
  9. By: Pierrette Heuse (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department); Yves Saks (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)
    Abstract: The paper describes job flows in Belgium using micro data at the firm level collected through the annual social balance sheets that companies have to file with the National Bank of Belgium. The coverage of the study is very broad: all industries and commercial services are included. We contribute to the previous literature by studying a long period from 1998 to 2006, covering both upturns and downturns in the Belgian economy. Furthermore, data from the social balance sheets make it possible to take into account the heterogeneity of the workforce, on top of the eterogeneity of firms themselves: job flows are broken down by socio-professional status and type of employment contract
    Keywords: Job flows, business cycle, heterogeneity
    JEL: J23 J21 I20
    Date: 2009–04
  10. By: Michel Grignon (McMaster University, Department of Economics and Department of Health, Aging, and Society, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada); Bidénam Kambia-Chopin (IRDES institut for research and information in health economics)
    Abstract: This paper examines the demand for complementary health insurance (CHI) in the non-group market in France and the reasons why the near poor seem price insensitive. First we develop a theoretical model based on a simple tradeoff between two goods: CHI and a composite good reflecting all other consumptions. Then we estimate a model of CHI consumption and empirically test the impact of potential determinants of demand for coverage: risk aversion, asymmetrical information, non-expected utility, the demand for quality and health, and supply-side factors such as price discrimination. We interpret our empirical findings in terms of crossed price and income elasticity of the demand for CHI. Last, we use these estimates of elasticity to simulate the effect of various levels of price subsidies on the demand for CHI among those with incomes around the poverty level in France. We find that the main motivation for purchasing CHI in France is protection against the financial risk associated with co-payments in the public health insurance scheme. We also observe a strong income effect suggesting that affordability might be an important determinant. Our simulations indicate that no policy of price subsidy can significantly increase the take-up of CHI among the near poor; any increase in the level of subsidy generates a windfall benefit for richer households.
    Keywords: Demand for health insurance, Uninsured, Premium subsidies
    JEL: D12 D81 I11 I18
    Date: 2009–04

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