Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

In the 1980s and 1990s successive United Kingdom governments enacted a series of reforms to establish a more market-oriented economy, closer to the American model and further away from its Western European competitors. Today, the United Kingdom is one of the least regulated economies in the world, marked by transformed welfare and industrial relations systems and broad privatization. Virtually every industry and government program has been affected by the reforms, from hospitals and schools to labor unions and jobless benefit programs.

Seeking a Premier Economy focuses on the labor and product market reforms that directly impacted productivity, employment, and inequality. The questions asked are provocative: How did the United Kingdom manage to stave off falling earnings for lower paid workers? What role did the reforms play in rising income inequality and trends in poverty? At the same time, what reforms also contributed to reduced unemployment and the accelerated growth of real wages? The comparative microeconomic approach of this book yields the most credible evaluation possible, focusing on closely associated outcomes of particular reforms for individuals, firms, and sectors.
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About the author

David Card is the Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a research associate of the NBER. Richard Blundell is the research director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Leverhulme Research Professor at the University College, London. Richard B. Freeman is the Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics at Harvard University, program director of labor studies at NBER, and senior research fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance of the London School of Economics.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Dec 1, 2007
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Pages
520
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ISBN
9780226092904
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic Conditions
Business & Economics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Politics and Economic Policy in the UK since 1964: The Jekyll and Hyde Years examines the economic policies that have been pursued by successive governments in Britain since 1964 and how such policies have been influenced by two sets of factors: politics and Keynesian demand management. The two basic failures of British economic policy since 1964 are highlighted, namely, the failure to establish a workable long-term incomes policy and the failure to achieve a high and stable rate of industrial investment.
This book is comprised of seven chapters and begins with a background on the British economy until 1964, with emphasis on the economic problems faced by the country, including rising prices. The four basic objectives of economic policy to which both Labor and Conservative parties subscribe—full employment, a reasonably rapid growth rate, stable prices, and a satisfactory balance of payments—are discussed. The next chapter focuses on the Labor Party's 1964 Election Manifesto and how the economy fared from October 1964 to March 1966. Subsequent chapters evaluate the economic policies of the Labour government during the period April 1966-June 1970, including devaluation and incomes policy; economic policies adopted by the Conservative government from June 1970 to February 1974; and the country's economic situation since February 1974. The final chapter considers four factors—structural, technical, managerial, and political—that were responsible for much of what went wrong with the British economy since 1964.
This monograph will be of interest to economists, political scientists, politicians, and economic policymakers.
The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America's low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America's exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn't so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America's global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries' recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
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