Mrs. Jana Bricco, Florian Misch, and Alexandra Solovyeva
This paper examines the economic effects of policies to contain Covid-19, by extracting lessons from Sweden’s experience during the ‘Great Lockdown’. Sweden’s approach was less stringent and based more on social responsibility than legal obligations compared to European peers. First, we provide an account of Sweden’s strategy and the health outcomes. Second, drawing on a range of data sources and empirical findings, our analysis of the first Covid-19 wave indicates that a less stringent strategy can soften the economic impact initially. These benefits could be eroded subsequently, due to potentially higher infection rates and a prolonged pandemic, but in Sweden’s case, the evidence remains mixed in this regard, and it is premature to judge the outcome of Sweden’s containment strategy. In addition, the economic effects of the containment strategy also depend on social behavior, demographics and structural features of the economy, such as the degree of export orientation, reliance on global supply chains, and malleability to remote working.
This paper analyzes regional labor mobility in Finland using two complementary empirical approaches: a VAR proposed by Blanchard and Katz (1992) and a gravity model. The results point to a relatively limited regional labor mobility in Finland compared to the U.S. and to EU peers. The limited regional labor mobility is associated with persistent unemployment differentials across regions. Some impediments to regional labor mobility are exogenous, such as large geographical distances across regions and relatively sparse population density, and explain about 23 percent of the variation in labor mobility. Others can be influenced by policy, such as further increase in wage flexibiltiy and reduction of housing costs. These impediments explain about 60 percent of the variation in labor mobility. Greater regional labor mobility could help reduce regional unemployment differentials, improve job matching efficiency, and remove pressures from regional fiscal redistribution.
The large influx of migrants to Nordic countries in recent years is challenging the adoptability of Nordic labor market institutions while also adding to potential growth. This paper examines the trends, economic drivers, and labor market implications of migration to Nordic countries with a particular focus on economic migration as distinct from the recent large flows of asylum seekers. Our analysis finds that migration inflows to the Nordics are influenced by both cyclical and structural factors. Although migration helpfully dampens overheating pressures during periods of strong demand, and over the longer term will cushion the decline in labor supply from population aging, in the near-term unemployment can rise, especially among the young and lower-skilled. The analysis highlights the need to adapt Nordic labor market institutions in a manner that better facilitates the integration of migrants into employment. In particular, greater wage flexibility at the firm level and continued strong active labor market measures will help improve labor market outcomes among immigrants.
For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper reviews the population policy in developed countries. The paper highlights that despite the weakness of population concerns in most developed countries compared with less-developed countries, most of the former have taken certain actions that affect, or are thought to affect, demographic events. These actions include such measures as appointing official commissions to study the country’s demographic situation and advise the government what to do; providing birth control services as part of the public health system; and so on. This paper also summarizes the conclusions drawn by Dr. Berelson from the 25 country reports.