DP2182 Determinants of Non-Employment and Unemployment Durations in East Germany

Author(s): Jennifer Hunt
Publication Date: June 1999
Keyword(s): Non-Employment, Transition Economies, Unemployment, Unions, Wages
JEL(s): J3, J6, P2
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2182

Following monetary union with the west in June 1990, the employment rate for east German 18-54 year olds fell from 89% to 73% in six years, and the decline for women was considerably larger. This employment fall is possibly the worst of any European transition economy, yet one might have expected the east German transition to have been the most successful. I seek insight into the problem by examining the determinants of transitions between non-employment (or unemployment) and employment, using the 1990-1996 survey years of the German Socio-Economic Panel. Individuals over fifty and women have much longer non-employment durations, but the presence of children, and hence child care, does not appear to be important. More skilled individuals, as measured by their education and 1990 wage, have shorter non-employment spells. I also examine employment duration. The most important similarity between the duration of non-employment and employment is the influence of the 1990 wage, which is consistent with the theory that trade-union wage rises for the less-skilled reduced employment. The most important difference is that the addition of covariates, particularly the 1990 wage, explains most of the gender gap in employment duration but little in non-employment duration.