What minimum wage for Germany?

By Odile Chagny and Sabine Le Bayon

The campaign for the parliamentary elections taking place on 22 September in Germany has engendered a broad debate among all political forces about the consolidation of the welfare state. The SPD programme highlights the concept of social justice, while in its programme the CDU has taken up several of the SPD’s main themes in the field of social welfare. The role of the welfare state has never been more central to a general election campaign since 2002. Despite this, the concern is not to move towards expanding the welfare state but the need for better quality in the welfare state, by correcting some of the negative consequences of Agenda 2010 [1]. Continue reading “What minimum wage for Germany?”

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A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case

By Eric Heyer

“France should copy Germany’s reforms to thrive”, Gerhard Schröder entitled an opinion piece in the Financial Times on 5 June 2013. As for the European Commission (EC), its latest annual recommendations to the Member states, released on 29 May, seem to take a step back from its strategy of a rapid and synchronized return to balancing the public finances, which has been in place since 2010. The EU executive’s priority now seems to be implementation of structural reforms of the labour and services markets in the euro zone countries. Continue reading “A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case”

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France, Germany: The nonworking poor

By Guillaume Allègre

“The ways of thinking society, managing it and quantifying it are indissolubly linked”

Alain Desrosières, 1940-2013

The subject of working poverty emerged in Europe in public debate and academic discussion in the early 2000s, in parallel with the implementation of policies to “make work pay”. European guidelines on employment have explicitly mentioned the need to reduce working poverty since 2003, and Eurostat set up an indicator on the working poor in 2005 (Bardone and Guio). In France, policies to make work pay have taken the particular form of earned income supplements (PPE, then RSA). In Germany, a series of reforms of the labour market and social welfare (the Hartz Laws) were introduced in the early 2000s with the aim of activating the unemployed. Continue reading “France, Germany: The nonworking poor”

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Higher unemployment in France, greater poverty in Germany

By Eric Heyer

Will France be the new Greece, as The Economist has argued? Should French reforms be accelerated and be modelled on those implemented in Germany ten years ago? For German public opinion, for its authorities and for a large number of economic experts, the answer is obvious. Not only does Germany have a lower deficit, but unlike its French neighbour it has also managed to significantly reduce its unemployment rate. Starting from a similar level in the early 2000s (close to 7.7% at end 2001), the unemployment rate now stands at 5.4% of the labour force in Germany, 4.5 percentage points below the level in France (Figure 1). Continue reading “Higher unemployment in France, greater poverty in Germany”

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France-Germany: The big demographic gap

By Gérard Cornilleau

The divergence in the demographic trajectories of Germany and France will have a major impact on social spending, labour markets, productive capacity and the sustainability of public debt in the two countries. The implications are crucial in particular for understanding Germany’s concern about its debt. These demographic differences will require the implementation of heterogeneous policies in the two countries, meaning that the days of a “one-size-fits-all” approach are over. Continue reading “France-Germany: The big demographic gap”

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Will Germany be caught up in the recession of its European partners?

Christophe Blot and Sabine Le Bayon

Can Germany avoid the recession that is hitting a growing number of countries in the euro zone? While Germany’s economic situation is undoubtedly much more favourable than that of most of its partners, the fact remains that the weight of exports in its GDP (50%, vs 27% for France) is causing a great deal of uncertainty about the country’s future growth. Continue reading “Will Germany be caught up in the recession of its European partners?”

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Working hours and economic performance: What lessons can be drawn from the Coe-Rexecode report?

By Eric Heyer and Mathieu Plane

Do people work less in France than in the rest of Europe? Is France the only country to have reduced working hours in the last decade? Is the 35-hour work week really dragging down the French economy? The report published on 11 January by the Coe-Rexecode Institute provides fresh material for answering these questions.

We have produced a note on the main conclusions of the report, which can be summarized as follows: Continue reading “Working hours and economic performance: What lessons can be drawn from the Coe-Rexecode report?”

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