Structural Reforms Without Prejudices
Edited by Tito Boeri, Micael Castanheira, Riccardo Faini and Vincenzo Galasso
Our economies face constant challenges from many different directions. Structural reforms are implemented every day, either to grasp the benefits of globalization and technological change, or to avoid foundering on unaffordable welfare systems or the rise of new economies.
Despite this flurry of reforms, many of their effects are insufficiently understood. What makes reforms a success or a failure? Why do we witness systematically ambivalent attitudes to reforms? Can governments implement reforms differently, without inflicting prejudice to large fringes of the population?
This book explores these issues by comparing a number of reforms, across a large set of countries and sectors. First, through an innovative multisectorial input-output analysis, the authors compare the effects of liberalisation reforms in the telecommunication and electricity sectors across Europe. Surprisingly, they find that very similar and well-intended reforms can generate highly contrasted outcomes. It is also shown that governments must consider the effects of each reform on all sectors of the economy. Second, the authors explore how governments can tailor their reform strategy to alter the redistributive effects of reforms. They show that the government's approach to reforms has been very different across time and across countries. A government's approach depends on local institutions, on the nature of the opposition, and on the scope of the reform under way. The authors, however, show that governments do have alternatives. Often, there are ways to tailor reforms so as to protect specific parts of the population; and there are ways to experiment gradually, to avoid costly policy mistakes.