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Working Paper No. 124. Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD

PublicationWorking paper
Almas Heshmati, Arbetslöshet, Företagandets villkor, Löneförhandling, Marcus Box, Nils Karlson, OECD
Working Paper No. 124.
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Abstract

According to Buchanan and Congleton (1998), the generality principle in politics blocks special interests. Consequently, the generality principle should thereby promote economic efficiency. This study tests this hypothesis on wage formation and labor markets, by investigating whether generality defined as state neutrality could explain employment performance among OECD countries during 1970-2003. We identify three types of non-neutrality as concerns unemployment: the level or degree of government interference in the wage bargaining process over and above legislation which facilitate mutually beneficial wage agreements, the constrained bargaining range (meaning the extent to which the state favors or blocks certain outcomes of the bargaining process), and the cost shifting (which relates to state interference shifting the direct or indirect burden of costs facing the parties on the labor market). Our overall hypothesis is that nonneutrality or non-generality increases unemployment rates. The empirical results from the general conditional model suggest that government intervention and a constrained bargaining range clearly increase unemployment, while a few of the cost shifting variables have unexpected effects. The findings thus give some, but not unqualified, support for the generality principle as a method to promote economic efficiency.

Related content: Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD

Karlson, N., Box, M. & Heshmati, A. (2008). Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD. Ratio Working Paper No. 124.

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Working Paper No. 124. Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N., Box, M. & Heshmati, A.
Publication year

2008

Abstract

According to Buchanan and Congleton (1998), the generality principle in politics blocks special interests. Consequently, the generality principle should thereby promote economic efficiency. This study tests this hypothesis on wage formation and labor markets, by investigating whether generality defined as state neutrality could explain employment performance among OECD countries during 1970-2003. We identify three types of non-neutrality as concerns unemployment: the level or degree of government interference in the wage bargaining process over and above legislation which facilitate mutually beneficial wage agreements, the constrained bargaining range (meaning the extent to which the state favors or blocks certain outcomes of the bargaining process), and the cost shifting (which relates to state interference shifting the direct or indirect burden of costs facing the parties on the labor market). Our overall hypothesis is that nonneutrality or non-generality increases unemployment rates. The empirical results from the general conditional model suggest that government intervention and a constrained bargaining range clearly increase unemployment, while a few of the cost shifting variables have unexpected effects. The findings thus give some, but not unqualified, support for the generality principle as a method to promote economic efficiency.

Related content: Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD

Working Paper No. 124. Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N., Box, M. & Heshmati, A.
Publication year

2008

Abstract

According to Buchanan and Congleton (1998), the generality principle in politics blocks special interests. Consequently, the generality principle should thereby promote economic efficiency. This study tests this hypothesis on wage formation and labor markets, by investigating whether generality defined as state neutrality could explain employment performance among OECD countries during 1970-2003. We identify three types of non-neutrality as concerns unemployment: the level or degree of government interference in the wage bargaining process over and above legislation which facilitate mutually beneficial wage agreements, the constrained bargaining range (meaning the extent to which the state favors or blocks certain outcomes of the bargaining process), and the cost shifting (which relates to state interference shifting the direct or indirect burden of costs facing the parties on the labor market). Our overall hypothesis is that nonneutrality or non-generality increases unemployment rates. The empirical results from the general conditional model suggest that government intervention and a constrained bargaining range clearly increase unemployment, while a few of the cost shifting variables have unexpected effects. The findings thus give some, but not unqualified, support for the generality principle as a method to promote economic efficiency.

Related content: Generality, State Neutrality and Unemployment in the OECD

Ratio Working Paper No. 349: Industrial conflict in essential services in a new era – Swedish rules in a comparative perspective
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N.
Publication year

2021

Published in

Ratio Working Paper

Abstract

This paper examines whether the Swedish regulatory system of dealing with industrial conflicts that affect essential services need an update or reform. Are the existing rules effective in a world where many essential services are upheld by many interdependent agents in complex systems where every single node becomes critical for the functioning of the system, and where the essential service activities could be either private or public? A comparative study is conducted with the corresponding regulatory systems of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark.
The conclusion is that Sweden is a special case. The Swedish protection against and readiness in dealing with societally harmful industrial conflicts in essential services is weaker than in the countries of comparison. Just as in relation to other threats to essential services, it is not sustainable to claim that just because such a threat is not currently present, there would be no need for preparedness.
There are many alternative ways to handle this. Desirable methods should both prevent harmful conflicts from erupting and end conflicts that have grown harmful to society at a later stage. The labour market organisations should have a mutual interest in reforming the rules.

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