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Universal basic income: An ambition to be financed

By Pierre Madec and Xavier Timbeau

This evaluation of Universal Basic Income (UBI), the flagship proposal of French presidential candidate BenoĂ®t Hamon, highlights a potentially important impact of the measure on the living standards of the least well-off households and on inequalities in living standards. If implemented, a universal basic income would have the effect of making France one of the most egalitarian countries in the European Union. In return, the “net” cost of the programme could be high, around 45 to 50 billion euros. Given the measure’s cost, financing it through an income tax reform could make the French socio-fiscal system even more redistributive, but would lead to a considerable increase in the marginal tax rates borne by the wealthiest households. suite…»

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Do we need a universal basic income? The state of the debate

By Guillaume Allègre and Henri Sterdyniak

In a situation of continuing high levels of unemployment and poverty, heightening job insecurity, and fear about job losses due to automation, the proposal for a universal basic income has become a part of the economic and social debate in France and in other developed countries. Such a programme would pay a monthly allowance to any person resident in a country with no conditions on means or activity. On 13 October 2016, the OFCE, as part of its mission to stimulate informed economic debate, held a study day, which was attended by researchers who had worked on this project, to develop, support and criticize it. An e-book brings together most of the contributions that were presented and discussed during the day, some of which were revised to take into account the discussion. suite…»

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The national living wage: a new means to boost low wages in the United Kingdom

By Catherine Mathieu

On 1 April 2016, a national living wage (NLW) took effect in the United Kingdom. This may come as a surprise to France, where the UK labour market is considered the epitome of a deregulated market. This new minimum wage, the NLW, adds 50 pence to the existing minimum hourly wage (the National Minimum Wage, NMW) for those over age 25, meaning a rise from ÂŁ6.70 to ÂŁ7.20, or 7.5%. This follows a 3.1% increase in the minimum wage in October 2015 for those over age 25 (from ÂŁ6.50 to ÂŁ6.70), for a total increase in one year of 10.8%. This sharp increase in the minimum wage does not represent a sudden change of course by the government. The Conservative election platform for the 2015 parliamentary elections already promised a raise in the minimum wage and pointed towards the introduction of a living wage. The announcement that the NLW would be established was made in July 2015, during the presentation of the budget by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, following the Conservatives’ election victory. This is simply the first step in an effort to raise low wages, as the government has a target of increasing the NLW to 60% of the median wage by April 2020 (up from 55% at present), to about 9 pounds.[1] suite…»

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A standard contract for France: a potluck approach?

By Jacques Barthélémy and Gilbert Cette

The debate over a single standard contract [contrat unique] generally arises in relation to the duality of the labour market, with on the one hand employees who are highly protected, such as civil servants and permanent employees (“CDI” contracts), and on the other hand workers shifting between periods of unemployment and poorly protected precarious jobs (fixed-term “CDD” and temporary contracts). This contrast reflects gross inequalities, and has important social and economic consequences.

To deal with this dual labour market, proposals are often made for a “single contract” that would reduce the differences in status and rights between precarious and permanent contracts. But the concept of a “single contract” is often poorly defined. If we closely examine the major differences that exist in the content of the various proposals, it even begins to look like a potluck approach! suite…»

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What is a Left economics? (Or, why economists disagree)

By Guillaume Allègre

What is a Left economics? In an opinion column published in the newspaper LibĂ©ration on 9 June 2015 (“la concurrence peut servir la gauche” [“Competition can serve the Left”], Jean Tirole and Etienne Wasmer reply that to be progressive means “sharing a set of values and distributional objectives”. But, as Brigitte Dormont, Marc Fleurbaey and Alain Trannoy meaningfully remark (“Non, le marchĂ© n’est pas l’ennemi de la gauche” [“No, the market is not the enemy of the Left”]) in LibĂ©ration on 11 June 2015, reducing progressive politics to the redistribution of income leaves something out. suite…»

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Reforming unemployment insurance in France today: not a good idea according to OECD indicators

By Eric Heyer

Six months following the signing of a national industry-wide agreement on unemployment benefits between the social partners, with new rules that normally are to apply until 2016, the French government, which wants to go further in reforming the labour market, is evoking the possibility of once again reforming the unemployment insurance system by reducing the level of benefits and the period they are paid.

It is far from clear that reforming the unemployment insurance system is in keeping with the idea that any reform must improve the “quality of life” of our citizens. This is, in any case, what is indicated by the latest publication of the OECD. suite…»

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The 2013 pension reform: the implicit contribution of pensioners’ purchasing power

By Stéphane Hamayon and Florence Legros

Less than three years after the official retirement age in France was raised in 2010-2011, a new pension reform was passed in early 2014.

This reform is described by its promoters as “sustainable and equitable”. However, only a few months after it passed, if we once again review the mid- and long-term balance of the pension system, we would have to conclude that this subject needs another look (see our article in the Revue de l’OFCE, no. 137, 2014). The suspected imbalance stems from a gap between the assumptions that prevailed in 2014 when the reform passed and the actual development of critical macroeconomic variables such as unemployment and productivity growth. suite…»

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A minimum wage in Germany: a small step for Europe, a big one for Germany

By Odile Chagny (Ires) and Sabine Le Bayon

After several months of parliamentary debate, a minimum wage will be phased in between 2015 and 2017 in Germany. The debate led to only slight modifications in the bill introduced last April, which came out of the coalition agreement between the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. The minimum wage will rise in 2017 to 8.50 euros gross per hour, or about 53% of the median hourly wage. In a country that constitutionally guarantees the social partners autonomy in the determination of working conditions, this represents a major rupture. Overall, the importance of the introduction of the minimum wage lies not so much in the stimulus it will be expected to have on growth in Germany and the euro zone as in the turning point it represents in how the value of labour is viewed in a country that has historically tolerated the notion that this can differ depending on the status of the person (or persons) carrying it out [1]. suite…»

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How can a basic income be defended?

By Guillaume Allègre

Following the submission of 125,000 signatures collected by organizations supporting the introduction of a basic income, Swiss citizens will vote in a referendum on a popular initiative on the inclusion of the principle of an unconditional basic income in the Swiss Federal Constitution. suite…»

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France-Germany: is there a demographic dividend?

By Vincent Touzé

Thanks to a high birth rate, France is aging less quickly than Germany. According to Eurostat, the French population is expected to exceed the German population by 2045. France could well become a European champion. But to what extent should we be talking about a demographic dividend? suite…»

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