Employment “miracles” challenges the conventional wisdom that full employment and good overall economic performance is a function of a particular recipe of policies and institutions. To the extent that deliberate policies have played a role in recent success stories, they are embedded in nationally specific social, economic, and political institutions, which cannot be easily emulated.
The book therefore offers a stern warning against the temptation, so rarely resisted, to draw sweeping generalizations from particular national “models.” But while there is no magic bullet, the book is optimistic about the capacity of countries with very different institutions to be successful in a fiercely competitive global economy.
There is no necessary tradeoff between competitiveness and a large redistributive welfare state, and success is not synonymous with US-style deregulation. This is a point that is brought out in a nuanced and insightful fashion by the individual country chapters. Anyone interested in understanding the relationship between the economy, public policy, and economic performance is well-advised to read this important and timely new book.
Professor of Government
Center for European Studies