Empirical Economics

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 1385–1415 | Cite as

Labour force participation across Europe: a cohort-based analysis

  • Almut BalleerEmail author
  • Ramon Gomez-Salvador
  • Jarkko Turunen


We use a cohort-based model to analyse the determinants of labour force participation in six European economies, focusing on age and cohort effects as factors explaining differences in participation behaviour across countries. Cohort effects are particularly relevant for women with those born in the late 1960s and early 1970s more likely to participate over the life-cycle. Our results suggest that cohort effects can be interpreted as evolving social norms or preferences towards participating in the labour market according to Fernandez (NBER working paper no. 13373, 2007). We find substantial variation in the estimated age and cohort effects across European countries: cohort effects can account for a substantial part of the recent increase in participation in Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, and a positive, but smaller part of in the increase in participation of the UK, Italy and France. Looking forward, positive cohort effects could help counteract the downward impact of population ageing on participation.


Labour force participation Cohort analysis Labour market institutions Cross-country analysis 

JEL Classification

J11 J21 



We would like to thank numerous participants and colleagues for helpful comments. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Monetary Fund.

Supplementary material

181_2013_716_MOESM1_ESM.doc (146 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (doc 146 KB)
181_2013_716_MOESM2_ESM.xls (248 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (xls 247 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Almut Balleer
    • 2
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ramon Gomez-Salvador
    • 3
  • Jarkko Turunen
    • 4
  1. 1.RWTH AachenAachenGermany
  2. 2.IIESStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.European Central BankFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.International Monetary FundWashingtonUSA

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