We are publishing From Crisis to Recovery, a new book from the OECD Insights series here on the blog, chapter-by-chapter. This book traces the roots and the course of the crisis, how it has affected jobs, pensions and trade, while charting the prospects for recovery.
These chapters are “works in progress” and their content will evolve. Reader comments are encouraged and will be used in shaping the book.
By way of introduction…
Being forced out of a job is an unpleasant experience. Employers often prefer to use euphemisms such as “I’ll have to let you go” that imply it’s somehow liberating or what the worker wanted. Thomas Carlyle, the man who coined the expression “the dismal science” to describe economics, was much nearer the mark. Writing in 1840, he claimed that “A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun.”
Modern research supports Carlyle’s view. For instance, finding yourself unemployed has a more detrimental effect on mental health than other life changes, including losing a partner or being involved in an accident. A long spell of joblessness has social costs too, whether at the level of individuals and families or whole communities.
Tackling unemployment and its consequences has to be a major part of governments’ response to the crisis.
This chapter looks at the workers and sectors most affected by the crisis and how policies can help workers weather the storm.