The Working Time Reduction in the Netherlands
We published in issue 222 of Futuribles (July-August 1997) an article by Jean-Yves Boulin and Gilbert Cette under the title "The Reduction of the Working Time: the Case of the Netherlands", which excited a lot of interest. Some of our readers pointed out, however, that the drop of unemployment in the Netherlands may be less spectacular than depicted by the official data, and that economic and social performance were not as promising as stated by the authors of the article.
We shall go deeper into the subject in another issue. In the meantime, the authors wish to correct some statistical errors in the article (repeated in the covering abstract) for which we want to apologize: the workforce in France increased between 1982 and 1996 by 7% (not by 2.9%), while it increased by 20.5% in the Netherlands (not by 8.1%). On the other hand, the purchasing power of the employed has increased not by "less than 12%" as stated, but by less than 2% in the Netherlands (as compared with 8% in France) from 1979 to 1996.
Jean-Yves Boulin and Gilbert Cette have acknowledged the ambiguity of some of the published data and they have clarified them. They also wish to point out, though, that the new data reinforce their interpretation that there is a double process in which reduced working time and wage moderation have a positive effect on employment.