The Relationship Between Full Employment and Technological Change in Western Europe

  • Per Holmberg


DURING the period following World War II, a steadily increasing number of nations in Western Europe have approached what is generally considered to be ‘full employment’. At the end of the 1940’s registered unemployment was low, and according to the prevailing indicators, insignificant concealed unemployment existed in only four States: Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Great Britain. The high level of employment in this group of countries has been maintained since then, apart from temporary cyclical lags. In a number of other Western European nations employment has risen steadily. Thus, since the end of the 1950’s, unemployment in Denmark and West Germany has been as low as that in the four countries just mentioned. In Austria, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Italy as well, employment has risen since the mid-1950’s at such a rate that the previously high unemployment figures have been noticeably reduced. However, in these five countries concealed unemployment continues to be relatively high. Unemployment remains high and tendencies towards a better balance on the labour market are weak in six Western European nations: Finland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey. It is evident, however, that with the exception of the latter group of countries, a labour market situation corresponding to ‘full employment’ has been achieved or tangibly neared throughout Western Europe.


Labour Market Technological Change High Unemployment Western European Country Full Employment 
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Notes And References

  1. 3.
    D. C. Page, F. T. Blackaby, and S. Freund, ‘Economic Growth in the Last Hundred Years’, National Institute Economic Review National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London, No. 16, July 1961.Google Scholar
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    S. Fabricant, Basic Facts on Productivity Change National Bureau of Economic Research, Occasional Paper 63, New York, 1959, p. 23.Google Scholar
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    W. E. G. Salter, Productivity and Technical Change Cambridge, 1960, p. 82.Google Scholar
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    W. Galenson, ‘Economic Development and the Sectoral Expansion of Employment’, International Labor Review Vol. LXXXVII, No. 6, p. 518.Google Scholar
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    S. Kuznets, Income and Wealth Series II, Cambridge, 1962.Google Scholar
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    See among others L. Ducoff and M. Hagood: Labor Force Definition and Measurement New York, 1947; R. A. Gordon, et al., Measuring Employment and Unemployment President’s Committee to Appraise Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Washington, 1962; and H. Krieghoff, Technischer Fortschritt und Produktionsgestaltung Duncker and Humblot, Berlin, 1958.Google Scholar
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    W. E. G. Salter, op. cit.Google Scholar
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    ‘Trade, Wages and Employment in Textiles’, International Labor Review Vol. LXXXVII, No. 1, 1963.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Institute for Labour Studies 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per Holmberg

There are no affiliations available

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