The Great Society: Lessons for the Future

By Eli Ginzberg; Robert M. Solow | Go to book overview

5
The uses and limits of manpower policy

LLOYD ULMAN

POLICIES that had been billed in the 1960's as specifics against inflation, unemployment, or poverty can hardly expect many enthusiastic endorsements today. Certainly, criticism of the so-called manpower policies, which had been touted for all three jobs at one time or another--and whose financial support from the federal government had increased tenfold over the decade --should come as no surprise. On the other hand, the criticism seems to have come most strongly and with equal fervor from the opposite ends of the political spectrum; and some readers may wonder whether any policy that has become the target of such wide-angle cross fire can--like the man who hates children and dogs--be all bad.

Public manpower policies have come to embrace a wide range of personnel activities, including (but by no means restricted to) counseling, training (in both educational institutions and on the job), the provision of better and cheaper information to employers and job seekers, and financial subvention of employers and trainees. Yet this broad range of activities constitutes only a subset of what a group of economists in the Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (or LO), led by Gösta Rehn and Rudolf Meidner in the early post-War period, termed "active labor market policies." By the end of the 1940's, Sweden, like other countries in Western Europe, began to experience

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