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Handbook of international manpower market comparisons.

Handbook of International Manpower Market Comparisons.

By Kenneth Walsh and Adrian King. Washington Square, NY, New York University Press, 1986. 318 pp. $90.

This international comparative Handbook of key labor market indicators covers all 12 members of the European Community, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. Data for the period 1974-83 are presented covering demography (population and activity rates), the labor force (including employment and unemployment), education (enrollments by educational level and graduates by field of study), industrial relations (union membership and strike activity), labor costs, and consumer prices. The format is country-by-country with a summary comparison chapter at the end. Appendixes provide advice on sources of statistics, comparative problems, and names and addresses of agencies in each country where the reader may request additional information.

Most of the data presented in this Handbook are obtained from international sources such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) Labor Force Statistics, the International Labour Office's (ILO's) Yearbook of Labour Statistics, and the United Nations Education, Cultural and Scientific Organization's (UNESCO's) Statistical Year Book. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' series of comparative total hourly compensation costs in manufacturing industry are used, and national sources have been referred to for data on duration of unemployment.

Depending most heavily on international sources (OECD, ILO, UNESCO), the authors do not delve as deeply as they might have into the national sources. Thus, some data elements listed as "not available' can be obtained from national sources. For example, the authors state that the number of pupils pursuing first level (elementary school) education is not available for the United States. However, such data have been available for many years from the U.S. Department of Education's Center for Education Statistics. Further, the authors are apparently unaware of the relatively new data series (beginning in 1983) on U.S. trade union membership available from the Current Population Survey. They use an older BLS data series which ends in 1980 and refer readers to more recent information which is available at irregular intervals from the Bureau of National Affairs.

The stated purpose of this Handbook is to enable "easy access to a selection of key labor market statistics that provide the basis of many cross-national comparisons.' In general, this purpose has been fulfilled, although the statistics used in the volume are somewhat out-of-date. Pulling together the most significant labor market indicators, the Handbook presents cautionary notes as to their limitations for comparative analysis. The interested reader could easily update most of the statistical series by referring to current issues of the international sources.

Those looking for an indepth analysis of comparative labor market trends will have to look elsewhere. The text of the country sections and the summary chapter are little more than "table reading.' There is no discussion of the reasons behind the varying trends and levels of indicators from country to country and no overall perspective on institutional differences and their impact on the statistics.

A novice in the field of international labor market comparisons would find this Handbook a helpful guide to what types of statistics are available, where they can be obtained, and how cautiously they should be used. The person already well versed in international labor data, however, will find nothing new or insightful here.
COPYRIGHT 1987 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sorrentino, Constance
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1987
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