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CEP discussion paper
Unemployment in Britain: A European Success Story
Christopher A. Pissarides
December 2003
Paper No' CEPDP0600:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: E5; J5; J64

Tags: unemployment in uk; monetary policy; beveridge curve; phillips curve

Unemployment in Britain has fallen from high European-style levels to US levels. I argue that the key reasons are first the reform of monetary policy, in 1993 with the adoption of inflation targeting and in 1997 with the establishment of the independent Monetary Policy Committee, and second the decline of trade union power. I interpret the reform of monetary policy as an institutional change that reduced inflationary expectations in the face of falling unemployment. The decline of trade union power contributed to the control of wage inflation. The major continental economies failed to match UK performance because of institutional rigidities, despite low inflation expectations.