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Daniel A Dias, Christine J. Richmond, and Carlos Robalo Marques
Recent empirical studies document that the level of resource misallocation in the service sector is significantly higher than in the manufacturing sector. We quantify the importance of this difference and study its sources. Conservative estimates for Portugal (2008) show that closing this gap, by reducing misallocation in the service sector to manufacturing levels, would boost aggregate gross output by around 12 percent and aggregate value added by around 31 percent. Differences in the effect and size of productivity shocks explain most of the gap in misallocation between manufacturing and services, while the remainder is explained by differences in firm productivity and age distribution. We interpret these results as stemming mainly from higher output price rigidity, greater labor adjustment costs and more informality in the service sector.
Emilio Fernández Corugedo and Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz
The EU Services Directive was adopted in 2006 to foster competition in services across Europe. However, progress in liberalizing services has fallen short of expectations due to the article 15 of the Directive, which allows countries to maintain pre-existing restrictions if judged necessary to protect the public interest. Through input output analysis, this paper finds important multiplier effects of greater efficiency services to the rest of the economy. A renewed impulse to the liberalization process could be given by enhancing the advocacy role of national competition authorities in interpreting the notion of public interest underpinning existing regulations.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The paper identifies France’s structural reforms that would yield the largest competitiveness gains based on macro-empirical evidence, and reviews signs of potential gains from a deregulation of the services sector. It is expected that completing deregulation in the services sector would benefit the entire French economy, by boosting productivity and exports. Econometric results have estimated the impact of reducing the labor taxation and labor market rigidities and of increasing innovation to the average level of other advanced countries.
Mr. Luc Everaert and Céline Allard
To live up to its growth potential and secure its inclusive social model, the euro area must make better use of its available labor. In the aftermath of the crisis, boosting growth is essential to prevent unemployment from becoming a long-term problem and to facilitate the return to fiscal sustainability. Labor utilization in the euro area has been lagging considerably behind its best performing peers. While fewer hours worked may, to some extent, reflect a social choice, higher unemployment rates and lower participation rates, on the other hand, cannot easily be attributed to individual preferences. Here, policies and institutions matter more. And there is little excuse for relatively low labor productivity, a particular bane in southern Europe and an increasing challenge everywhere. Kick-starting growth requires a comprehensive approach to labor and service market reforms. Different circumstances call for different approaches across countries. Countries in southern Europe need to focus on regaining competitiveness, while some in the core should promote higher labor force participation or more open service sector markets. Improving access to the labor market should be high on the priority list everywhere—including through some harmonization of key features of the labor market, which will help deal with intra-euro area imbalances. Differences in labor taxation, unemployment benefit systems, and employment protection will need to be reduced. Improving regulation and reforming taxes and social benefits will be essential to make inroads. For the longer term, focus should be on innovation, education, and on continuing financial sector reforms.