März 2013

IZA DP No. 7260: Is Germany the North Star of Labor Market Policy?

substantially revised version published in: IMF Economic Review, 2013, 61 (4), 702-729 [Details & Download]

Germany's recovery from an unemployment disease and its resilience to the Great Recession is remarkable. Its success story makes it a showcase for labor policy and labor market reforms. This paper assesses the potential of the German experience as a model for effective, evidence-based policymaking. Flexible management of working time (through overtime and short-time work, time accounts and labor hoarding), social cohesion and controlled unit labor costs, combined with a rigid, incentive-oriented labor policy supported by effective program evaluation, define the characteristics of a strong reference model. Austerity, sometimes seen as core to the German model, is not viewed as a key element.