OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

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Concept, Measurement and Policy Implications of the NAIRU

Perspective from Belgium

The use of the NAIRU-concept is not very widespread in Belgium. This may be partly due to an observed unemployment rate that is probably significantly higher than the NAIRU for most of the past two decades. Government policy to halve the administrative notion of unemployment by the beginning of the next century has therefore little regard for the NAIRU level. A second reason for the low popularity of the NAIRU resides in the fact that the measurement issues are seen as enormous. Confidence intervals for NAIRU estimates are notably high. From partial information on the last economic cycle in 1987-94, the deduction is nevertheless that the NAIRU would be in the 7-8 per cent range.

Instead of finding exact estimates for the NAIRU, the paper looks into the wage formation process in Belgium in the long and short run. Although total factor productivity is the main long-term influence of real wages, in the short term labour market pressure is clearly the main determining factor. It is ...


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