Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective

Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective

61 Pages · 2003 · 3.8 MB · English

UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, the United States, Canada and . societies distinguished three categories of vagabonds: invalids, the healthy in 

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IRLE IRLE WORKING P APER #1288 April 1988 Barr y Eichengr een and Tim Hatt on Interwar Unemployment In Int ernational Perspective Cite as: Barr y Eichengr een and Tim Hatt on (1988) “Interwar Unemplo yment In Int ernational Perspective” IRLE W orking P aper No 1288 http://irleberk eleyedu/ workingpapers /1288pdf irleberk eleyedu/ workingpaper s eScholarship provides open access, scholarly publishing services to the University of California and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide Institute for Research on Labor and Employment UC Berkeley Title: Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective Author: Eichengreen, Barry , University of California, Berkeley Hatton, Tim , University of Essex Publication Date: 04011988 Series: Working Paper Series Publication Info: Working Paper Series, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley Permalink: http://escholarshiporg/uc/item/7bw188gk Keywords: Eichengreen, Hatton, unemployment, international perspective Copyright Information: All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated Contact the author or original publisher for any necessary permissions eScholarship is not the copyright owner for deposited works Learn more at http://wwwescholarshiporg/help_copyrighthtml#reuse Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective Barry Eichengreen University of California, Berkeley Tim Hatton University of Essex January 1988 This paper is the editors' introduction to a volume of the same name, to be published by Martinus Nijhoff later this year INTERWAR UNEMPLOYMENT IN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE The outstanding internal economic problem of the interwar period in all countries studied was undoubtedly unemployment Next to war, unemployment has been the most widespread, most insidious and most corroding malady of our generation; it is the specific disease of western countries in our time It varied in intensity in the different countries but in nearly every industrial country it held the center of the social and economic stage in the interwar years It was a social evil more than an economic evil Its effects in terms of personal insecurity, maldistribution of income, and the deterioration of health, technical skill and morale were probably greater than the waste of resources and potential wealth involved At the same time the pressure of the problem on national government was perhaps the most decisive disrupting factor in international economic relations (Arndt, 1944, p 250) 1 Introduction For two decades after the Second World War, many economists and politicians thought that the battle against largescale unemployment had been won Since 1970, however, the armies of full employment have suffered a series of reversals The US unemployment rate doubled between the late 1960s and 1980 and has shown disturbingly little tendency to decline since Unemployment in the Common Market countries of Europe also doubled over the decade up to 1980 and, more distressingly, doubled again over the first half of the current decade For the OECD as a whole, the standardized unemployment rate has risen from 51 per cent in 1977, when this statistic was first calculated, to 8 per cent in 1985l With increasing frequency, parallels are drawn with the heretofore unprecedented experience with largescale unemployment during the interwar years It is hard to know what to make of the comparison, for the literature on interwar unemployment is circumscribed by two serious limitations A first limitation is that the recent literature is confined almost exclusively to the 1 experience of two countries: the United States and the United Kingdom There is little scholarly literature on interwar unemployment in a surprising number of other countries While the unemployment experience of other countries has been the subject of the occasional study, the specialized approaches taken have not permitted comparisons or generalizations A second limitation is that the literature on interwar unemployment is heavily macroeconomic and based on highly imperfect macroeconomic indicators Investigators have remained preoccupied by the behavior of the aggregate unemployment rate as measured by trade union returns or unemployment insurance statistics Despite the questions that can be raised about the reliability of those statistics and about their comparability across countries, the standard series continue to serve as the basis for a steady stream of macroeconometric studies By comparison, little systematic attention

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