Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

CLS Working Papers,
University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research

No 01-10: Danish Labour Market Policy: Is it worth it?

Niels Westergaard-Nielsen ()
Additional contact information
Niels Westergaard-Nielsen: Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business, Prismet, Silkeborgvej 2, DK 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

Abstract: Denmark has been quite succesfull in reducing unemployment. At the same time the costs of creating activation and other schemes have been very high. OECD judges that total costs are about 5% of GDP, which is the highest amount among OECD-countries. This paper presents a comprehensive description of the recent Danish labour market policies. The paper goes through all the different programmes and shows that most of the measures introduced have increased the reservation wages of job seekers. The result was a sharp growth in the number of participants on a number of new programmes for the unemployed and for those seeking alternatives to work. The total number of people on some sort of passive or active scheme rose until late in the 90’s where admission to programmes was restricted and a strong economic upswing created new demand for labour. A final analysis of the probability that an unemployed person becomes employed, based on individual transition data, shows that the new labour market policies introduced after 1993 did not increase the probability that an unemployed person would get a job. However, there is a positive effect in 1997 and 1998 coinciding with the attempts to tighten admission to labour programmes.

Keywords: Unemployment; Labour market policies; Denmark

JEL-codes: J21

20 pages, November 1, 2001

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