NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Single Peaked Vs. Diversified Capitalism: The Relation Between Economic Institutions and Outcomes

Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 7556
Issued in February 2000
NBER Program(s):   LS

Capitalist countries have historically had quite different labour market institutions and social policies. Do these differences produce sufficiently different economic outcomes to identify a single peak set of institutions? This paper shows that: 1. Labour market institutions have large effects on distribution, but modest hard-to-uncover effects on efficiency. 2. Institutional diversity is increasing among advanced countries, as measured by the percentage of workers covered by collective bargaining. 3. The case for the US having the institutions for peak economy status rests on its 1990s full employment experience, which arguably counterbalances its high level of economic inequality The historical pattern whereby some capitalist countries do better than others in some periods (ie Japan in the 1970s-1980s), then run into problems is more consonant with the view that capitalism permits national differences in institutions to persist than with the view that all economies must converge to a single institutional structure.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7556

Published: Dreze, Jacques (ed.) Advances in Macroeconomic Theory. London, UK: Palgrave, in association with the IEA, Conf. Vol #133, 2002.

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