This book challenges this free market orthodoxy. The chapters include both cross-country analyses and individual country case studies by leading labor economists from seven North American and European countries. The unifying theme across the essays is that the orthodox case for blaming persistent high unemployment on labor market institutions is simply not supported by the available evidence. This question has enormous policy significance. Since the individual, economic and social costs of unemployment are so high, we need to fight unemployment as effectively as possible. But it is often forgotten - often by well-paid tenured economists - that eliminating social protections through rolling back the welfare state has high individual, economic and social costs as well. The essays in this volume suggest that the conventional focus on labor market deregulation has been misplaced.
More plausible sources of joblessness include tight European macro economic policy,political instability, poor coordination between "social partners" (employers, unions, and the state), the challenge of responding to rapid demographic changes (the "baby boom"), and the need for rapid shifts in employment from agriculture, mining and heavy industry to service jobs in some less developed regions.