Headlines 2015

IFN researchers discussing the job market


On Tuesday, November 17, three renowned IFN-researchers participated in public seminars: Professor Lars Calmfors, Professor Magnus Henrekson and Associate Professor Per Skedinger. The subjects were wages, employment and changes in society overall. The massive current of refugees and the opportunities for newcomers to find jobs were discussed from different viewpoints at all three seminars.

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Lars Calmfors, Susanne Spector and Ola Pettersson discussed German labor market reforms.

Lars Calmfors explained, at a seminar organized by the think tank Fores, that since Sweden is accepting many refugees with low education, we must accept greater wage differences and lower initial salaries to be able to decrease unemployment. He also indicated that a great deal of the problems on the labor market can be addressed through changes in the tax system.

The seminar was launched with a presentation of a report on the German labor market reforms 2003–2005, focusing on mini-jobs. In the light of the report the discussants debated how the Swedish labor market might evolve and what reforms that are needed to make newcomers with low education find jobs. The additional panel members were: Ola Pettersson, LO (Swedish Trade Union Confederation), and Susanne Spector, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

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Magnus Henrekson lectured at the Senior University of Stockholm. The topic was "Long-term aspects of production and incomes".

“Not everyone has to get an academic training”, said Magnus Henrekson when he explained how individuals will be able to find employment in the future.

He pointed to the fact that for those who are not suited or motivated to study at university it is better to start working and to acquire knowledge on the job; knowledge that often is a great fit for the labor market and also gives the individual better prospects for the future. And, explained Henrekson, in the labor market it is often just as important to possess non-cognitive skills – punctuality, reliability, and so on – as an academic education.

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From left is Agneta Berge, LO (Swedish Trade Union Confederation), Susanne Spector, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Per Skedinger, IFN, and Jesper Ahlgren, Timbro.

Per Skedinger opened a seminar at the think tank Timbro by presenting research on minimum wages in general and two of its own studies on this topic in particular. From the research, he explained, it can be concluded that the social partners should not raise the Swedish minimum wages, at least not in the current situation. The large influx of refugees with low education has changed the picture.

“All Swedish studies show negative employment effects of the rise in minimum wages and/or composition effects to the detriment of the most vulnerable groups, explained Skedinger.

Skedinger has studied the effects of increased minimum wages for refugees and indigenous youth at the individual level in Sweden 1998–2007. His conclusion is that "the unemployment of refugees increases when the minimum wage increases – both the probability of unemployment and its duration." He also explained that more and more people living in Sweden have a low level of education.

“At this time in Sweden, only 51 percent of adults with the lowest level of education are in employment.”

Text: Elisabeth Precht

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 | info@ifn.se