- Diverging trends in unemployment in the United States and Europe: Evidence from Okun's law and the global financial crisispdf - 0.3 MB
The global financial crisis deeply impacted labour markets around the globe, particularly in a number of OECD countries. However, in such cases as the United States, some commentators have argued that the subsequent rise in unemployment has exceeded previous estimates of the elasticity of the unemployment rate with respect to output growth, a statistical relationship known as Okun’s law. In line with the literature on this topic, the estimates of Okun’s coefficients presented in this paper display considerable variation across countries, which captures the heterogeneity in the responsiveness of unemployment to the global financial crisis. In the United States, Canada, Spain and other severely affected economies, the coefficient increased sharply, departing from pre-crisis levels in the 2000s. In other countries where unemployment has remained subdued, namely Germany and the Netherlands, the coefficient has fallen dramatically. While different factors can potentially explain how the crisis has been transmitted to the labour market, the role of labour market institutions is the focus of this paper. In this regard, empirical evidence exploring the relationship between the shift in Okun’s coefficients and such institutions confirms that the responsiveness in the unemployment rate during the Great Recession was lower in countries where workers are afforded greater employment protection (such as Germany).