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Eine keynesianische Analyse der Beschäftigungswirkung einer Arbeitszeitverkürzung

Nägele, Johannes (2017): Eine keynesianische Analyse der Beschäftigungswirkung einer Arbeitszeitverkürzung.

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Recently, the debate about the employment effects of a working time reduction regained the public attention in Germany. Heiner Flassbeck and Friederike Spiecker commented that such a reduction of working-time leads to a falling household consumption due to the lower income of the employees while new men are not employed instantly. In the end, the creation of new jobs becomes obsolete as the sales of the companies shrink. Fritz Helmedag criticizes their analysis. He instead comes to the conclusion that it is necessary not only to adjust the wages to the productivity growth but also to reduce the working time by the same amount the productivity grows; otherwise a higher unemployment is implied under stagnating demand. In this paper it is shown that Helmedag´s analysis suffers from serious analytical inconsistencies. Firstly, his model can be identified as a Keynesian textbook model. For this reason, the relevance for policy conclusions can be seriously doubted. Secondly, the key elements of Flassbeck and Spiecker`s argumentation can be implemented in the model easily. Therefore even within Helmedag´s model the results can differ. Some results can also be attributed to an implicit price stability. Thirdly, the model´s assumptions are highly unrealistic. Furthermore, even basic accounting rules are disregarded as the balance of the primary incomes is missing. This appears to be especially paradox when the core element of Helmedag´s approach is stock-flow consistency. After this examination of Helmedags work, an alternative Keynesian analysis – although heuristic – is provided. It turns out that a working time reduction can lead to significant positive employment effects. Nevertheless, it depends on the concrete shape of the conduction. Considering the current political landscape, heading towards more fiscal stimulus should be preferred to a reduction of working time.

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