Europe > Belgium

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Ms. Yuanyan S Zhang
Wage rises have remained stubbornly low in advanced Europe in recent years, but, at the same time, newer EU members are experiencing rapid wage acceleration. This paper investigates the drivers of this wage divergence. Econometric analysis using error correction models suggests that wage growth responds more quickly to changes in unemployment in the newer EU members than in advanced Europe, where wages are more closely related to inflation and inflation expectations in the short run, implying greater inertia in nominal wage rises in advanced Europe. In the years after the global crisis, this inertia contributed to the build up of a real wage overhang relative to sharply slowing labor productivity, which subsequently dragged on nominal wage rises even as unemployment began to decline. Spillovers of subdued wage growth between euro area countries also weighed on wage rises in advanced Europe.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper studies diversification in Luxembourg’s economy and the role of the government. The economy of Luxembourg appears to be more concentrated than that of comparable countries. Sectoral output is more concentrated than in other countries; this relative lack of diversification is true even when the financial sector is excluded and even compared with other European countries with a small population. However, employment concentration is similar to that in other countries. Luxembourg specializes in sectors whose labor productivity is somewhat higher than in several benchmark countries. The government should continue to further diversify the economy by fostering an environment for growth.
Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz and Ms. Yao Yao
We read search theory's unemployment equilibrium condition as an Iso-Unemployment Curve(IUC).The IUC is the locus of job destruction rates and expected unemployment durations rendering the same unemployment level. A country's position along the curve reveals its preferences over the destruction-duration mix, while its distance from the origin indicates the unemployment level at which such preferences are satisfied Using a panel of 20 OECD countries over 1985-2008, we find employment protection legislation to have opposing efects on destructions and durations, while the effects of the remaining key institutional factors on both variables tend to reinforce each other. Implementing the right reforms could reduce job destruction rates by about 0.05 to 0.25 percentage points and shorten unemployment spells by around 10 to 60 days. Consistent with this, unemployment rates would decline by between 0.75 and 5.5 percentage points, depending on a country's starting position.
Mr. Pierre Pestieau, Mathieu Lefèbvre, Mr. Alain Jousten, and Sergio Perelman
In this paper, we describe the changes of (early) retirement programs over time and study the link between trends in elderly labor force participation and youth unemployment. From a theoretical point of view, there is no convincing argument that the idea of a lump-of-labor should hold. Our empirical results comfort this finding, and indicate a very weak link, if any, between elderly retirement and activity among the young and the prime-age populations.
International Monetary Fund
Belgium has effected a remarkable fiscal adjustment, best illustrated by the decline in its public debt. While benefiting from an appreciable decline in interest rates, most of the underlying consolidation reflected a considerable increase in the tax burden, one of the highest in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This paper analyzes the social transfer system in Belgium. Belgium has a very accessible and equitable health care system. The system is characterized by high input levels and service volumes.
Mr. Marcello M. Estevão
Regional labor market discrepancies have been widening in Belgium in the last two decades and are more evident within particular demographic groups. These developments can largely be accounted for by worse matching of people to jobs in the high-unemployment provinces. Using a structural VAR, it is also shown that labor market dynamics in Belgium produce a strong attenuating effect on employment growth, in contrast to the United States where initial labor demand shocks are expanded in the long run. After the short-run adjustment is over, there is less labor migration in Belgium than in the United States or Europe, corroborating the perception that Belgians move "too little."
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the regional labor markets for Belgium. The paper examines labor market performance, and argues that a number of factors—poor worker-job matching, a compressed wage structure, and low geographical mobility—contribute to economic disparities. The paper describes the divergences in local labor markets, and offers potential explanations for them, including an analysis of variations in the relationship between regional unemployment rates and regional vacancy rates. The paper also describes how labor markets adjust in Belgium and in its two main regions.
International Monetary Fund
This paper provides a number of complementary estimates of potential output and the output gap—variables that cannot be observed directly. After a substantial increase in the tax wedge in the 1970s and the 1980s, which has been widely thought to have been partly responsible for the sharp rise in unemployment rates, the Belgian authorities instituted a policy of reduction in employers' social security contributions. The reforms will reverse the increase in average income tax rates during the 1990s.
International Monetary Fund
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.