Summary of seminar - 10 March 2015

18 March 2015

Seminar Topic: Hartz-Reforms and the Consequences for the German Labour Market - A Macroeconomic Evaluation Ten Years Later

Presenter: Peter Haller 
Brief bio of presenter: Peter Haller is a PhD student at the University of Regensburg (Germany) and Researcher at the German Federal Institut for Employment Research in Nuremberg. 
Venue: IERI, 159 Nana Sita Street, Pretoria, 0001 
Date: 10 March 2015
Time: 11h30-12h30

Employment and jobs are central to economic development. The presentation provided an overview of the labour market reforms that took place on Germany in 2003 under the Agenda 2010, known as the “Hartz-Reforms”. These reforms were a response to the dismal labour market performance in the early 2000s that led Germany to be known as the ‘sick man of Europe’.  The presenter explained the various dimensions of the reform, which merged interventions related to employment services and social benefits. The interventions summarised activated various aspects related to the conditions of employment. The presentation then explored the impact of the interventions in terms of unemployment and efficiency of labour markets. The analysis suggested that the reform package let to a significant reduction in the German unemployment rates in a relatively short period.  It also highlighted the unintended consequences and limitations of the reform, such as increased segmentation of labour markets.  

The seminar provided valuable insights on the relevance of the labour markets reform in Germany. Questions were raised regarding the lessons that such reforms would offer to South Africa’s unemployment problems, as well as the importance to consider the reforms in a broader political economy framework that takes into consideration the historical, social and political context of Germany at the time. Issues about the quality of the employment created and ‘decent work’ were also raised in connection to the effects of the reforms in the labour market.