European Social and Labour Market Index: Enhancing the Labour Market Policy Debate by Making Use of Official Statistics
Austrian Chamber of Labour, Austrian Institute of Economic Research, Grete Epler, Eva Rueckert
Austrian Chamber of Labour, Vienna, Austria; Austrian Institute of Economic Research, Vienna, Austria

The European Social and Labour Market Index aims to highlight strengths and weaknesses of the labour markets of the 27 EU Member States with particular reference to Austria. Comprising of five distinct areas which are not summarised to one consolidated number, the index represents a set of key indices which can be used to monitor the relative labour market situations and their developments over time. The five areas covered are: Overall labour market performance, orientation towards integration, equity of labour market entry and continuity, distribution of earnings and distributional equity of the welfare state. The underlying indicators and dimensions were selected by labour market experts of the Austrian Chamber of Labour and the Austrian Institute of Economic Research. Prerequisites for the comparability of area indices are the completeness of indicators for all Member States on the basis of a publicly accessible data base and the transparency of the construction method. For this purpose indicators were predominately extracted from the data base of the European Statistical Office. Indicators are normalized via the Min-Max method, weighted and rescaled to run from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 10 points.

The country pattern emerging from the results suggests a predominance of Nordic countries – in particular Denmark – in most labour market aspects covered. But also the Netherlands and Austria can be viewed as being top performers. Austria strengths lie in the overall labour market performance and its orientation towards integration. South- and most eastern European countries show to have weaknesses in areas relevant for social policy; a notable exception is Slovenia.

Biography: Eva Rueckert studied economic science, international relations and Spanish at the University of Aberdeen and received a master's degree in economics from the University of Glasgow (Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics). Thereafter she started her Ph.D. research on the labour market outcomes of women in transition economies with particular reference to Estonia and in comparison to other EU Member States at Heriott-Watt University (CERT) in Edinburgh and at CEPS/INSTEAD Luxemburg. Between 2007 and 2010 she worked as a freelance consultant in Berlin and Hamburg. She joined WIFO as a researcher in the areas of labour markets, income and social security in April 2010.