Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 22 May 2020

Despite significant reforms over the last two decades, the euro area remains divided, both politically and financially. This column reviews the progress towards the completion of the European monetary union and highlights the remaining gaps. The euro area remains behind the US in terms of risk sharing, banking and capital markets union, and labour mobility. In addition, there is no common fiscal policy to provide support in response to regional shocks. The COVID-19 crisis is a severe test for the euro area, which should be met with renewed calls for solidarity and integration.

Sascha O. Becker, Lukas Mergele, Ludger Woessmann, 05 April 2020

The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the reunification of West and East Germany. German separation in 1949 into the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic and its reunification in 1990 offer a unique setting of a rather unexpected introduction and termination of a communist regime in one part of a previously and afterwards unified country. However, this column argues that this period of German history is not a completely straightforward ‘experiment’ from which to learn about the effects of communism.

Joan Monras, 25 March 2020

While the world is waiting for a vaccine that helps defeat COVID-19, many countries have constrained mobility considerably to try to curb the expansion of the virus. However, such ‘social distancing’ comes with large economic costs. Based on recent evidence on commuting flows and local consumption patterns, this column proposes ways to think about social distancing policies that may be effective and, at the same time, limit the negative consequences for the economy. 

Sebastian Heise, Tommaso Porzio, 29 February 2020

Thirty years after reunification, a stark and persistent wage gap between East Germany and West Germany remains. This column studies why East Germans do not migrate to the West to take advantage of the higher real wages there. Analysing data from more than 1 million establishments and almost 2 million individuals over 25 years, it suggests that moving people across space is difficult and costly. Reallocating workers to better jobs at their current location could be a more cost-effective avenue to increase aggregate wages, and even accelerate regional convergence.

Gaetano Basso, Francesco D'Amuri, Giovanni Peri, 13 February 2019

The response of labour supply to negative shocks is different across regions due to varying levels of labour mobility. This column shows that the elasticity of labour supply in response to economic shocks is lower in the euro area than in the US, suggesting that a lack of labour mobility may be an obstacle to labour market adjustments in the euro area. Policies aimed at reducing the complexities of migrating for jobs could help ease this mobility gap.

Jean-Pierre Danthine, 12 April 2017

In this column, Jean-Pierre Danthine, a co-author of "Making Sense of Subsidiarity: How Much Centralization for Europe?", revisits the report nearly 25 years on from its publication. He examines the main themes of the report and shows how such areas as centralisation/decentralisation, subsidiarity, and macroeconomic stabilisation have played out over the years since the report was published. He concludes that the report was both prescient and, at the same time, represents a view from the past of the 'road not taken'.

Matthew Bloomfield, Ulf Brüggemann, Hans Christensen, Christian Leuz, 17 December 2015

Labour mobility is an important prerequisite for the efficiency of labour markets. In the EU, however, different standards across countries present an implicit economic barrier for high-skilled professionals. This column examines how the recent EU harmonisation of professional standards in accounting affected cross-border migration relative to other professionals. The harmonisation had a strong positive effect on accountants’ cross-border migration. Harmonisation could thus be a potentially powerful tool for policymakers seeking to improve labour market efficiency.

Ufuk Akcigit, Salome Baslandze, Stefanie Stantcheva, 27 April 2015

Taxing high earners is an issue of growing importance in many nations. One concern is that raising rates will lead high earners to move elsewhere. This column suggests that top-tier inventors are significantly affected by top tax rates when deciding where to live. The loss of these highly skilled agents could entail significant economic costs in terms of lost tax revenues and less overall innovation.

Mai Dao, Davide Furceri, Prakash Loungani, 01 December 2013

Labour mobility is one of the keys to a successful currency union – be it within or across nations. This column discusses new evidence showing that the shock-absorbing role of migration has increased in Europe and declined in the US. During the Great Recession, European migration remained high – although not high enough given the vast differences across the Eurozone. Overall, Europe has strengthened this essential adjustment mechanism.

John Whalley, Eric Ng, 04 October 2008

While global integration of goods and capital markets proceeds apace, visa requirements and work permits frustrate global labour markets. This column summarises the costs of barriers to movement of persons and proposes ways to start global negotiations to liberalise them.

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