Vol. 24, No. 2

John B. Taylor:
The Rules-Discretion Cycle in Monetary and Fiscal Policy (pp. 78–86)


This lecture starts with a review of historical trends in the balance between rules and discretion: first toward more discretionary policies in the 1960s and 1970s; second toward more rules-based policies in the 1980s and 1990s; and third back again toward discretion in recent years. In each of these swings, monetary policy and fiscal policy moved in the same direction. These swings are correlated with economic performance—unemployment, inflation, economic and financial stability, the frequency and depths of recessions, the length and strength of recoveries. The lecture then provides evidence that the correlation is causal with the moves toward more rules-based policies improving economic performance.

(JEL: E60, N10)

Rita Asplund, Erling Barth, Per Lundborg and Kjersti Misje Nilsen:
Polarization of the Nordic Labour Markets (pp. 87–110)


Labour-market polarization is characterized by increased employment in occupations at the top but also at the bottom of the skills and wage distributions, followed by a relative decline in ‘middling’ occupations. This paper documents a polarization trend also in the Nordic labour markets and contrasts it to comparative findings for the USA. Analysis of the extent to which differences in wage development across skill groups have enhanced or attenuated this process of polarization in employment patterns suggests that the U-shaped pattern of employment change prevails also after controlling for concomitant changes in relative occupational wages. Hence, it seems that also the Nordic countries have experienced a shift from skill-biased technological change to non-routine-biased technological change – or, more likely, a combination of the two – and that this process has not been particularly dampened by compressed wage structures or relatively more rigid wages.

(JEL: J21, J23, J31)

Terhi Maczulskij and Jaakko Pehkonen:
Public-Private Sector Pay Gaps in Finland: A Quantile Regression Analysis (pp. 111–127)


This paper examines public-private sector wage differentials in Finland using a quantile regression method. We control for the endogeneity of the working sector and allow the returns of individual skills to vary between industries. The results suggest that men earn a premium of 3 percent in the public sector at the lower-end jobs. At the median and the upper end of the distribution, men’s pay gap is negative, varying between 5 and 10 percent. Women, in turn, always earn more in the public sector (4–10 percent), and the premium is highest at the upper end of the earnings distribution.

(JEL: J31, J45)


Finnish Economic Papers 2/2011