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Social democracy and full employment

Andrew Glyn

No FS I 95-302, Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economic Change and Employment from WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Abstract: Full employment was the centrepiece of the economic policy of social democracy in the post-war period. Whilst the role of Keynesianism in policy making may be exaggerated, it offered the prospect of maintaining full employment without any section of society having to pay. Problems with the foreign balance and with the budget deficits, however, may require that some part of society has to pay with reduced consumption for full employment. This will tend to sharpen the distributive conflicts which, as Kalecki argued, are endemic to full employment capitalism and which eventually rendered it unsustainable by undermining profitability and the dynamism of private investment. The demand necessary to sustain full employment can be maintained by a balanced budget expansion provided the political support can be secured for the higher taxation and provided the institutions for containing distributional conflict can be developed.

Date: 1995
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