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.

English, French

High and Persistent Unemployment

Assessment of the Problem and Its Causes

Unemployment has emerged as one of the most pressing economic concerns in the majority of OECD countries. However, experiences differ across countries as regards the level, volatility and composition of unemployment. Nevertheless, a common feature in many countries is that given levels of wage acceleration, capacity utilisation and vacancy rates are now associated with much higher levels of unemployment than used to be the case two decades ago. Countries seem to differ in the extent to which rising trend unemployment reflects a rise in equilibrium unemployment ("the natural rate") or slow adjustment towards an equilibrium level which is lower than trend unemployment. A number of factors can be pointed to as affecting either equilibrium unemployment or the speed of adjustment in labour markets. Such factors comprise both labour market institutions and policies as well as features that are outside the realm of structural policies. A review of the literature as well as the examination ...


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