Comparaisons des structures d
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Comparaisons des structures d'emploi : un panorama international (version anglaise)


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Les statistiques de l'emploi et du chômage, harmonisées au sein de l'Union européenne ou de l'OCDE, permettent d'établir des comparaisons internationales de plus en plus nourries, et d'ouvrir publiquement le débat sur l'origine des écarts entre pays, que ces écarts concernent le niveau global d'emploi ou sa répartition par secteur. Sur les vingt dernières années, si la tertiarisation de l'ensemble des économies développées se poursuit à un rythme soutenu, le niveau atteint diffère encore fortement selon les pays, et le poids respectif des services non marchands, des services marchands et du commerce varie sensiblement. Ainsi, la part de l'emploi dans le secteur tertiaire dépasse à peine 60 % en Allemagne, au Japon ou en Italie, alors qu'elle est proche de 70 % en France et de 75 % aux États-Unis. Celle de l'emploi dans le commerce et l'hôtellerie-restauration est d'environ 17 % en France et en Allemagne, contre 15 % en Suède et 24 % aux États-Unis. Les différences de taux d'emploi, correspondant à la part de la population active occupée au sein de la population totale en âge de travailler, sont à l'origine d'écarts d'emploi importants entre pays. La France occupe au sein de cette hiérarchie une position médiane : par rapport au niveau d'emploi qui serait atteint en appliquant le taux d'emploi des États-Unis, le déficit est de 19 % en France, alors qu'il est nul au Danemark et de l'ordre de 36 % en Espagne. Là encore, la déclinaison de cet écart par secteur d'activité fait ressortir les spécificités nationales des structures d'emploi.



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Comparisons of Employment
Structures: An International
Alain Bayet Harmonised employment and unemployment statistics in the European Union and
and Manuel the OECD make increasingly detailed international comparisons possible and help
Marciaux ** to inform public debate about the origins of disparities between countries’ overall
employment levels and the origins of differences in the distribution of employment
between economic sectors.
Over the last twenty years, all advanced countries have seen rapid growth of the
service sector in their economies. Yet, the employment levels reached still vary widely
from one country to the next and there are substantial differences in the distribution of
jobs between non-market services, market services and wholesale and retail trade.
Service jobs account for just over 60% of employment in Germany, Japan and Italy,
whereas the figure is closer to 70% in France and 75% in the United States. Jobs in
wholesale and retail trade, hotels and catering accounted for 17% of employment in
France and Germany, as opposed to 15% market services and wholesale and retail
trade. Service jobs account for just over 60% of employment in Germany, Japan and
Italy, whereas the figure is closer to 70% in France and 75% in the United States. Jobs
in wholesale and retail trade, hotels and catering accounted for 17% of employment in
*Originally published as
France and Germany, as opposed to 15% in Sweden and 24% in the United“Comparaisons des
structures d’emploi : un States.Differences in the employment rate, which is the proportion of the working-age
panorama internatio-
population that is in the labour force and in work, explain the major differences innal,“ Économie et
Statistique, no. 318, employment from country to country. France is in a middling position in this respect.
** Alain Bayet and Manuel Compared to the American employment rate, the shortfall in France is 19%, whereas
Marciaux work in the it is zero in Denmark and about 36% in Spain. Once again, detailed examination of the
Services and Trade
Office of the Forecas- disparities in individual activity sectors reveals the specific national features of
ting Directorate.
employment structures.The names and dates in
parentheses refer to the
bibliography at the end
of the article.
mployment and unemployment are key administrative sources. The reliability of these
issues in economic analysis in the data and statistics is recognised, especiallyE
advanced countries, particularly in Europe. A since efforts have been made to improve their
wealth of data and statistics is collected and suitability for international comparisons.
compiled from a wide variety of sources, Theliteraturedealingwithemploymentisusually
including structural surveys of households and based on critical comparisons of national data
firms, business conditions surveys and sources (Elfring, 1989) or more direct references
INSEE Studies, no. 41, November 1999 1to OECD publications (Ires, 1993). The OECD very specific countries and sectors. This article
statistics are compiled from data provided by the extends the comparison to encompass major
various national statistics institutes. These data activity sectors across several European
are mainly taken from the System of National countries, thus providing readers with reference
Accounts. This study uses Eurostat statistics data to help put the issues dealt with in more detail
when dealing with European Union Countries, by the two following articles into context.
because the Labour Force Surveys used to collect However, readers must not lose sight of the wide
the employment statistics were designed from the variety of situations encountered in Europe, both
outset to meet harmonisation requirements. The in terms of overall employment levels and the
data from these surveys are usually very similar to distribution of employment by activity sector.
those of the OECD, but some differences do show They should also avoid the overly simplistic
up in the case of certain countries, such as comparisons that are sometimes made between
Belgium or the United Kingdom. However, these the United States and Europe as a whole.
differences are more noticeable in the level data
than in the trend data.
The level and content of serviceThe publication of harmonised statistics enables
employment vary from one countryus to make direct comparisons of employment
rates, which means the proportions of national to the next
working age populations that are in the labour
force and in work. Such a comparison shows that The service sector of industrialised countries’
France has 20% fewer jobs per inhabitant than the economies has grown rapidly over the last few
United States. In other words, if France had the decades, leading to a much larger proportion of
same employment rate as the United States, it service jobs. The share of service jobs increased
would have 25% more jobs, which works out to substantially in all these countries between 1979
about 5 million jobs in absolute terms. In the two and 1996 (see Table 1). The increase was
following articles, Piketty, together with Gadrey approximately 10 percentage points in most
and Jany-Catrice put forward original countries, with the exception of the United
explanations for these disparities by looking at Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland and France,
where it was closer to 15 percentage points.
Yet, the level of employment in the service sector is
Table 1 share of employment in the service sector stood at
The share of service employment more than 73% in 1996. At the same time, two
is increasing in all advanced countries groups of European countries could be
In % distinguished. In the first group, made up of the
United Kingdom, France, Belgium, theShare of service sector employment
in total employment Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, the share of
1979 1988 1996 made up of Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland,
together with Japan, the proportion was just over
France 54.6 62.8 68.6
60%. The differences in levels of employment, as
Germany 49.9 55.0 61.8 wellasinratesofgrowth,stemfromthewidevariety
Denmark 59.8 67.1 69.7 of employment structures. The decline of
Italy 49.1 58.0 61.1 manufacturing and agriculture, which accompanies
the growth of services in an economy, did not occurUnited Kingdom 55.4 64.9 70.6
the same way in all countries. Employment
Belgium 58.6 65.5 69.6
structures in Germany and Japan show that these
Spain n.d. 53.2 62.0
countries are still major manufacturing powers,
Netherlands 60.0 68.6 73.1
unlike Ireland and Spain, where agriculture
Irland 46.7 55.6 61.4 accounts for a greater share of jobs. In 1996,
Sweden (1) n.d. n.d. 70.9 manufacturing jobs in Germany and Japan
accounted respectively for 35% and 33% ofJapan 53.9 58.0 61.2
employment, whereas the average for the advancedUnited States 65.1 70.2 73.3
countries that we are considering stood at 28%. In
1. n.d.: not determined the same year, the proportions of agricultural jobs in
Source : Eurostat for the European countries; OECD (1997b) for
much higher than the average share of 5%.
Japan and the United States.
2 INSEE Studies no. 041 November 1999The differences between countries also relate to whichvirtuallymatchedthea74.6%employment
the content of their service sectors. To begin with, rate in Japan. On the other hand, Spain’s
the distinction between market and non-market employment rate stood at only 47%. Thus we
services that can be made on the basis of the observe a wide dispersion of employment gaps.
OECD data shows that the employment These gaps are the percentage difference between
contribution of each type of service varies actual employment rates and the theoretical
substantially from one country to the next. The employment rates that would be reached if the
contribution of non-market services to the growth rates were the same as in the United
of service jobs is much more significant in the States. The gaps range from +1% in Denmark to
countries with a «social democrat» tradition -36% in Spain. France’s employment gap, with
compared to the United States, the United regard to the United States is approximately 5
Kingdom and Japan, where they make a much million jobs, or 19% of the theoretical number of
smaller contribution (Ires, 1993). Furthermore, jobs. The European countries with smaller
within the market services sector, wholesale and employment gaps than France are Germany, the
retailtrade,togetherwithhotelsandcatering,only Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden and
contributed to European service employment Denmark.
growth in the United Kingdom, Italy and Ireland.
In France and Germany, the share of jobs in these
Employment rates by age groupsectors remained stable at about 17% of total
employment, whereas it rose from 17% to 20% in
the United Kingdom, from 19% to 22% in Italy This aggregate comparison may seem quite
and from 16% to 19% in Ireland. approximate. Nevertheless, it provides reference
data that are highly likely to stimulate more
in-depth research work. For example, the
Wide dispersion of employment rates comparison could be refined further by analysing
in Europe
We measure European and Japanese employment
gaps in comparison to the United States using a Table 2
method that is similar to the one that Piketty France labor force
(1997) uses. Thus we present the 1996 is in a middle rank
employment rate for each European country. This
is the proportion of the population between the Employment rate
Employment gap
(1)ages of 15 and 64 years that is in the labour force
and in work. This rate is then compared to that of
Thousandsthe United States (see Table 2). The employment % theoretical
of jobs
employmentgaps in each European country are measured as
the difference between the actual number of jobs
Spain 47.0 – 7, 038 – 36and a simulated number of jobs based on the
Italy 51.3 – 8, 767 – 30American employment rate. The simulated
Ireland 56.3 – 412 – 24number of jobs is calculated by applying the
Belgium 56.6 – 1, 149 – 23American employment rate to the population
France 60.0 – 5, 095 – 19between the ages of 15 and 64 years in each
European country. Germany 64.7 – 4, 996 – 12
Of course, achieving the highest possible Netherlands 66.0 – 828 – 11
employment rate is not an objective in itself. In United Kingdom 69.8 – 1, 513 – 5
fact, a 100% employment rate could only be Sweden 70.8 – 172 – 4
reached by reducing educational attainment and Japan 74.6 + 510 + 1
raising retirement ages. Nevertheless, this rate is
Denmark 74.7 + 33 + 1
an indicator of problems encountered on labour
1. Employment rate = labor force in work divided by themarkets in various advanced countries.
population aged between 15 and 64 years.
France holds a middle-ranking position in the
employment rate distribution. In the United
Key: In 1996, France employment gap compared to the United
States, the proportion of the working-age States is 5.1 million jobs, or 19% of the theoretical number of
jobs France would have if it had the same employment rate aspopulation in the labour force and in work stood at
the United States.
74% in 1996. In Europe, only Denmark posted a
Sources : Eurostat for the European countries; OECD (1997b)
slightlyhigheremploymentrateat74.7%in1996, for Japan.
INSEE Studies, no.41, November 1998 3employmentratesforindifferentagegroupsorfor each country and then calculating the
full-time and part-time workers. employment gaps both in thousands of jobs and in
EmploymentratesbyagegroupinSpain,Italyand thousands of ‘equivalent full-time jobs’ (see
Ireland are low compared to the United States. Table4).Thelatterfigureisfoundbeaddingupthe
These three countries have the largest total number of people in full-time jobs and the
employment gaps (see Table 3). In France, the totalofinpart-timejobs,weighted rate for 25-to-54-year-olds is close by the ratio of average working hours to
to that in the United States (77.1% and 80.2% the average full-time working hours. Additional
respectively). The aggregate employment gap employmentgapsaremeasuredbycalculatingthe
between France and the United States stems difference between the actual number of jobs in
mainly from big gaps in the 15-to-24-year and France and a simulated number of jobs obtained
55-to-64-year groups’ employment rates. by applying the employment rate of each
Belgium’s position is similar to that of France. European country to France’s real aggregate
In the other countries, the employment rates for population.
25-to-54-year-olds are closer to the American France’s employment rate is lower and its
rate. And even though the employment rates for employment gap is negative compared to
the 15-to-24-year and 55-to-64-year groups are countries with a higher proportion of part-time
lower than in the United States, they are still much employment. Conversely, France has a positive
higher than in France, which means that otheryment gap with respect to countries with
countries’ aggregate employment gaps are lower part-time employment rates. The gaps
smaller than France’s. between France and other countries are not
significantly different when calculated in terms of
equivalent full-time jobs, except in the case of the
The effect of part-time employment on Netherlands.
employment gaps
We can measure the effect of differences in
part-time employment rates between countries by
calculating the proportion of part-time jobs in
Table 3 Table 4
Lower labour force participation by the Part- time employment fails to explain the
youngest and the oldest disparities in European employment rates
In %
France’s simulatedEmployment rate in 1996 (1) Part-time
employment gap
with another country
Age 15-24 Age 25-54 Age 55-64 Country
France 25.5 77.1 29.1 % of equivalent
of jobs
full-time jobs
Spain 23.4 60.1 33.0
Italy 25.4 65.5 27.3 Spain 8.0 + 4, 816 + 4, 064
Ireland 35.7 66.5 40.2
Italy 6.6 + 3, 214 + 2,146
Belgium 26.0 73.9 21.7
Ireland 11.6 + 1, 389 + 1, 141
Germany 45.5 76.7 37.9
Belgium 14.0 + 1, 262 + 1, 022
Netherlands 54.1 75.8 30.0
France 16.0 Ref. Ref.
United Kingdom 54.9 77.5 47.7
Germany 16.5 – 1, 738 – 1, 171
Sweden 33.9 81.4 64.1
Netherlands 38.1 – 2, 190 + 1, 165
Denmark 65.9 82.2 47.7
United-Kingdom 24.6 – 3, 603 – 1, 356
Japan 45.1 79.6 63.6
Sweden 24.5 – 3, 963 – 2, 910United States 57.6 80.2 55.9
Denmark 21.5 – 5, 415 – 3, 9351. The employment rate by age group is the ration of labour
force participants in an age to the total popluation of the
Key: In 1996, if France had the same employment rate as
Germany, it would have 1.7 million more jobs. In equivalent
full-time jobs, the number of extra jobs would be approximately
Sources : Eurostat for the European countries; OECD (1997a) 1.2 million.
for Japan and the United States. Source : Eurostat.
4 INSEE Studies no. 041 November 1999catering contributes a large share of the aggregateSimilar gaps in wholesale and retail trade,
service sector gap and, therefore, a large share ofand in hotels and catering
the total employment gap.
Analysis by activity sector reveals which sectors
to make finer comparisons between European Data comparisons are not enough
countries (see Table 5).
This brief presentation of the statistical panoramaCompared to the United States, the European
countries as a whole have a negative employment raises many questions. The size of the gaps, as
gap in the service sector. The ranking of these wellascertainsimilarities,leadtoquestionsabout
countries according to the gaps shows the same the origins of the differences. More than mere
patterns previously observed in terms of alignment and confrontation of statistical sources
aggregate employment gaps (see Table 2). is required in order to compare the respective
situations of various countries.There is a wide dispersion of service sector
employment gaps, ranging from -3% in Denmark In two articles of the same revue ( Économie et
to-46%inSpain.Ontheotherhand,thegapsinthe Statistique, no. 318), Thomas Piketty, as well as
wholesale and retail trade and hotels and catering Jean Gadrey and Florence Jany-Catrice,
sectors are fairly similar at about 40%, except in undertake such detailed comparisons. Before
the United Kingdom, Denmark and the readers move on to discover the contents of these
articles, we should like to remind them of threeNetherlands. France and Belgium have the largest
gaps at 43%. Even though Sweden’s gap in the obvious points that are sometimes all too easily
wholesale and retail trade and hotels and catering overlooked.
sectors is similar to those in the other European First of all, comparisons of numbers are
countries, its aggregate service sector gap is very indispensable, but we obviously have to assume
small at -7%. This is due to a surplus of the inherent risks in statistics and classification
employment in Sweden’s non-market services, systems.Numbersrevealonlypartofthestoryand
their account may be biased. Therefore,particularly in health care and social services. In
all of these countries, except Ireland, the undertaking such comparisons requires
employment gap in hotels and catering is always substantial information about the statistics used.
larger than the one in the wholesale and retail Secondly, without losing sight of the fact that
trade. rigorous economic analysis must take account of
In certain countries, such as France, Belgium and interactions between all markets, it would
nonetheless be pointless to try to present anthe Netherlands, the employment gap in the
wholesale and retail trade and in hotels and analysis of employment gaps on the basis of a
Table 5
Europe’s employment rate in trade, hotels and catering is still lower
In %
Employment gap compared to the United States in 1996
France Germany Spain Italy United Kingdom Belgium Denmark Netherlands Ireland Sweden
Agriculture + 39 – 8 + 94 + 64 – 34 – 26 + 46 + 12 + 192 + 8
Manufacturing – 10 + 28 – 22 – 7 + 7 – 12 + 11 – 19 – 13 + 3
Services –24 – 26 –46 – 42 –9 –27 – 3 – 16 –36 – 7
Services other
than trade, hôtels
and catering –14 – 21 –49 – 44 –3 –19 +10 –9 –36 +9
Trade, hotels and
catering –43 – 36 –40 – 38 –22 – 43 –31 – 30 –38 – 41
Trade –36 – 29 –39 – 31 –17 – 36 –21 – 18 –39 – 33
Hotels and catering –60 – 57 –42 – 55 –35 – 61 –58 – 59 –35 – 63
Key: In 1996, actual French agricultural employment was 39% higher than the employment simulated by using the employment
structure in the United States, and actual France’s manufacturing sector is 10% lower than the simulated level.
Sources: Eurostat and OECD.
INSEE Studies, no.41, November 1998 5Boxes
In view of the growing role that services play in suitability of physical data and due to the wide variety
employment, GDP and other aspects of modern of services that may be provided by a given
economies, the capacity to measure service sector businesses or in a given sector. Even though some
performance has become increasingly comparisons are possible, this approach cannot be
indispensable, since it partially explains the used for all comparisons. In particular, it is impossible
performance of the economy as a whole. to make comparisons between sectors producing
different types of output or when the available data
However, measurement of productivity in services, are not expressed in the same monetary unit.
which is essentially a matter of measuring labour
productivity, runs into a multitude of obstacles. The In addition to the physical and technical
various conventional indicators used to measure measurement methods, there are, as Gadrey (1996)
the output of physical goods are often quite reminds us, two other methods used to measure
inappropriate for service sector output. changes in productivity in the services. The first is
based on deflated sales figures in the wholesale and
Output and input retail trade, together with hotels and catering. The
second is based on deflated value added, which is
Labour productivity can be broadly defined as the the difference between the value of output and the
ratio between the value of what is produced value of intermediate consumption (deflated wages,
(output) and the volume of work (input) required to employment or labour). However, this raises the
produce it. The difficulties in measuring productivity major problem of constructing a deflator that is
in services lie more in evaluating output than in representative of the output being measured, since
gauging input. such a deflator is an absolute necessity for
measuring productivity changes. Even without this
The precautions necessary to avoid statistical bias problem, the two methods are not always very
when assessing input are common to all labour satisfactory and they can sometimes produce quite
productivity measurements and not specific to severe statistical bias. Gadrey (1996) points out
measuring labour productivity in the service sector. these shortcomings and explains that the problems
When it comes to the choice of a labour using the second method arise when making the shift
measurement unit, Gadrey (1996) explains that it is from a nominal value measurement (in current francs,
better to reason in terms of equivalent full-time dollars, etc.) to estimating changes in real output.
employment units, which enables us to adjust for the The two available statistical techniques, «simple
effect of part-time working by measuring productivity deflation» and «double deflation» are not always very
per equivalent full-time employment unit. This is satisfactory nor very easy to implement.
preferable to simply dividing labour output by the
number of people employed in production. More Estimating output of non-market services is
difficult problems, which are specific to the service still a delicate matter.
sector, arise in the measurement of output.
Productivity measurements in non-market services
How should output be defined and measured? are very tricky and often come in for criticism
(Ecalle, 1989; Ires, 1993; Pilat, 1994; Vimont,
The first problem encountered in the measurement of 1992). The valuation of output in non-market
productivity in some services, such as banking and services, such as education, health care and public
insurance, is the very basic issue of how to define administration, is usually done using value added.
output. Gadrey (1992) states that there are several This raises a problem since non-market services
real output concepts available for banking and have no prices or their prices are purely a matter of
insurance, but that none of them is the obvious convention. The added value produced by
natural choice. The type of output to use in order to non-market services is therefore assessed on the
measure productivity is a fundamental issue, since basis of production costs, which are mainly
the productivity trend calculations for a given service composed of compensation of employees. The
can produce totally different results depending on the deflator that is frequently used to switch from
definition of output used. current value added to real value added is the
index of across-the-board wage increases. The
Of course, we are not saying that it is impossible to drawbacks of this approach to productivity are
make any measurement of productivity in services. In obvious. It seems to be especially difficult to find
some services, physical output measurements can any productivity gains, since the added value is
be used to assess productivity and then, if statistical virtually equal to the compensation paid to
data are detailed enough and classification systems employees as a matter of convention. This type of
are sufficiently consistent, it becomes possible to measurement means that, in practice, changes in
make international comparisons (Mulder, 1994; value added merely shadow changes in employee
Mulder and Kune, 1998; Pilat, 1996). However, this numbers. Productivity gains often boil down to the
approach cannot be used for all services because of contribution of a rising age-and-job-skill coefficient
statistical problems relating to the availability and to the growth of aggregate payroll expense.
INSEE Studies, no.41, November 1998 6completegeneralequilibriummodel.Ontheother output and output by sector should be considered
hand, the use of overly simplistic mechanisms in the light of the special difficulties involved in
must also be avoided. In most cases, the aim is measuring output trends and, consequently
more a matter of backing up certain assumptions labour productivity trends, in the service sector
rather than providing conclusive explanations for (see Box).
given disparities. If we keep these precautions in mind, we can
Finally, in the more specific matter of comparing venture into the dizzying realm of international
employment and employment structures, readers employment comparisons without taking
must remember that trends in both aggregate undue risks.
Ecalle, F. (1989), “L’Économie des services,” Que commerce: une comparaison internationale,” La Lettre
sais-je ?, no. 2502. du Cepii, no. 165.
Elfring, T. (1989), “New Evidence of the Expansion of OECD (1997a) , The Employment Outlook, July
Service Employment in Advanced Economies,”Review 1997.
of Income and Wealth, no. 35 (4), pp. 409-440.
OECD (1997b), Labour Force Statistics, 1976-1996,
Eurostat (1996), Labour Force Surveys, 1979, 1988 and Statistics Directorate.
1996 Results, coll. “Population and Social Conditions.”
Piketty, T. (1994), “Les créations d’emplois en France
Gadrey, J. (1992), L’économie des services, Repères, et aux États-Unis, ‘services de proximité’ contre ‘petits
La Découverte. boulots’,” Notes de la Fondation Saint-Simon, no. 93,
Gadrey, J. (1996), Services : la productivité en
question, Desclée de Brouwer. Pilat, D. (1994), “Comparaisons internationales de
productivité,” Économie Internationale, La Revue du
Ires (1993), “Emploi et services. Éléments de Cepii, no. 60, pp. 11-32.
de l’Ires, no. 20, pp. 10-14. Pilat, D. (1996), “Labour Productivity in OECD
Countries: Estimates for Manufacturing and
Mulder, N. (1994), “La productivité du travail dans les Selected Service Sectors,” OECD, Working Papers,
services en France et aux Etats-Unis,” Économie no. 169.
Internationale, La Revue du Cepii, no. 60, pp. 89-118.
Vimont, C. (1992), “L’économie française
Mulder, N. and B.-C. Kune (1988), “Productivité du souffre-t-elle d’un excès de productivité ?,”Chroniques
travail dans les transports, les communications et le de la Sedeis, no. 9, pp. 351-358.
INSEE Studies, no.41, November 1998 7