Active labour market policy in a changing economic context.1

Giuliano Bonoli

in Regulating the Risk of Unemployment

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592296
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731471 | DOI:
Active labour market policy in a changing economic context.1

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The chapter provides an account of the changing role played by active labour market policies (ALMPs) in Europe since the post-war years. Focusing on six countries (Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom), it shows that the role of ALMPs is related to the broad economic situation. At times of rapid expansion and labour shortage, like the 1950s and 1960s, their key objective was to upskill the workforce. After the oil shocks of the 1970s, the raison d’être of ALMPs shifted from economic to social policy, and since the mid-1990s, we see the development of a new function, well captured by the notion of activation, which refers to the strengthening of work incentives and the removal of obstacles to employment, mostly for low-skilled people. The adequacy between economic context and policy is not always optimal, though. Like other ones, this policy domain suffers from inertia, with the result that the countries that have led the way in one period have more difficulty adapting to the economic conditions prevailing in the following one.

Keywords: active labour market policies; training; activation; unemployment; inertia

Chapter.  7478 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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