April 2006

IZA DP No. 2068: From Golden Age to Golden Age: Australia's "Great Leap Forward"?

published in: The Economic Record, 82 (257) 2006, 207-224

The twenty-five years after WW 2 witnessed strong labour market institutions and beneficial labour market outcomes – high wage growth and integration of low-skilled immigrants. Then came the macro shocks of the mid 1970s. Labour market outcomes deteriorated as full-time employment population ratios fell, particularly among males; unemployment and welfare use increased; and real wages grew slowly. The golden age passed. In response, successive governments have increasingly begun to dismantle the institutional framework. We address this transition within a simple long run graphical framework to help us marshal facts and arguments and to discuss the likely impact of institutional reform.