Determinants of employment - the macroeconomic view
The weak performance of the German labour market over the past years has led to a significant unemployment problem. Currently, on average 4.5 mio. people are without a job contract, and a large part of them are long-term unemployed. A longer period of unemployment reduces their employability and aggravates the problem of social exclusion. The factors driving the evolution of employment have been recently discussed on the workshop Determinanten der Beschäftigung – die makroökonomische Sicht organized jointly by the IAB, Nuremberg, and the IWH, Halle. The present volume contains the papers and proceedings to the policy oriented workshop held in November 2004, 15-16th. The main focus of the contributions is twofold. First, macroeconomic conditions to stimulate output and employment are considered. Second, the impacts of the increasing tax wedge between labour costs and the take home pay are emphasized. In particular, the role of the contributions to the social security system is investigated. In his introductory address, Ulrich Walwei (IAB) links the unemployment experience to the modest path of economic growth in Germany. In addition, the low employment intensity of GDP growth and the temporary standstill of the convergence process of the East German economy have contributed to the weak labour market performance. In his analysis, Gebhard Flaig (ifo Institute, München) stresses the importance of relative factor price developments. A higher rate of wage growth leads to a decrease of the employment intensity of production, and correspondingly to an increase of the threshold of employment. Christian Dreger (IWH) discusses the relevance of labour market institutions like employment protection legislation and the structure of the wage bargaining process on the labour market outcome. Compared to the current setting, policies should try to introduce more flexibility in labour markets to improve the employment record. The impact of interest rate shocks on production is examined by the paper of Boris Hofmann (Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt). According to the empirical evidence, monetary policy cannot explain the modest economic performance in Germany. György Barabas and Roland Döhrn (RWI Essen) have simulated the effects of a world trade shock on output and employment. The relationships have been fairly stable over the past years, even in light of the increasing globalization. Income and employment effects of the German tax reform in 2000 are discussed by Peter Haan and Viktor Steiner (DIW Berlin). On the base of a microsimulation model, household gains are determined. Also, a positive relationship between wages and labour supply can be established. Michael Feil und Gerd Zika (IAB) have examined the employment effects of a reduction of the contribution rates to the social security system. To obtain robust results, the analysis is done under alternative financing scenarios and with different macroeconometric models. The impacts of allowances of social security contributions on the incentives to work are discussed by Wolfgang Meister and Wolfgang Ochel (ifo München). According to their study, willingness to work is expected to increase especially at the lower end of the income distribution. The implied loss of contributions could be financed by higher taxes.