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Full employment — lessons from state socialism

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It is one of the proud boasts of the state socialist countries that they have eliminated unemployment. This claim raises a number of issues, namely:

  1. 1.

    what is ‘full employment’?

  2. 2.

    does it exist under state socialism?

  3. 3.

    if the answer to 2 is affirmative, flow is it achieved and maintained?

  4. 4.

    how should the resulting state of affairs be evaluated?

  5. 5.

    what lessons, if any, has this got for employment policy in the capitalist world?

The paper analyses these five questions from the standpoint of reverse Sovietology.

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Additional information

This is the full text of an inaugural lecture given by the author as Professor of the economics of centrally planned economies of the University of Amsterdam on 12 February 1979. The author is grateful to W. Brus, J. van den Doel, W. Driehuis, P. Hanson and A. Nove for helpful comments and discussion.

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Ellman, M. Full employment — lessons from state socialism. De Economist 127, 489–512 (1979).

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