, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 167-190,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Apr 2008

A spatiotemporal analysis of aggregate labour force behaviour by sex and age across the European Union


This study investigates the causes of variation in age-specific male and female labour force participation rates using annual data from 154 regions across ten European Union member states for the period 1983–1997. Regional participation rates appear to be strongly correlated in time, weakly correlated in space and to parallel their national counterparts. An econometric model is designed consistent with these empirical findings. To control for potential endogeneity of the explanatory variables, we use an instrumental variables estimation scheme based on a matrix exponential spatial specification of the error terms. Many empirical studies of aggregate labour force behaviour have ignored population distribution effects, relying instead on the representative-agent paradigm. In order for representative-agent models to accurately describe aggregate behaviour, all marginal reactions of individuals to changes in aggregate variables must be identical. It turns out that this condition cannot apply to individuals across different sex/age groups.

I am grateful to Annette Zeilstra, Dirk Stelder, Jouke van Dijk, Peter Batey, Hubert Jayet and four anonymous referees for useful suggestions and comments on earlier drafts.