Saturday, 19 November 2011


Veteran readers will know that I have some personal favourites among the ELSTAT data series - headline figures like GDP and, to a lesser extent, unemployment, are highly political and the temptation to game them must be very high. Other, more humble statistics on the other hand are cleaner and much more meaningful, even if they are a little noisy due to small samples.

My personal favourite is the percentage of unemployed people who had job offers but turned them down. You can check out a much more detailed discussion of this variable here, but basically this is a very rich statistic as it incorporates people's expectations about the future and their attitudes towards work.

This number peaked in mid 2006, the height of the 'good days', when 15.8% of all unemployed people were made a job offer but turned it down for one reason or another. Since then it's been falling steadily, especially since Q3 2009 when the Greek fiscal crisis started in earnest. Well the latest figures from ELSTAT say this number has fallen to a record low of 6.7%.

In itself, this means very little. But as you'll recall, I've modelled this variable as a function of unemployment and future GDP (and the prospect of elections) and this is the first time since 2007 that the 'workshy' are a smaller percentage of the unemployed than unemployment alone would justify. This could mean one of three things:
  • A permanent shift in in the attitudes of Greek workers (probably a good thing)
  • There are no workshy any more - everything is friction unemployment. People are actually taking any job can find unless this is physically impossible or absolutely unacceptable.
  • A strong expectation that economic conditions will deteriorate significantly.


  1. It is true that there were lots of people snubbing jobs in the past. But now that the cost of living in Greece has skyrocketed to the point where Pensioner Mom can't afford to keep doling out to Workshy Son it seems that things are moving in the direction that your data indicates.

  2. Next time someone is outraged by "the markets" reacting to something I'll show them this and ask them if they're also outraged by the reaction of this market.

  3. Your phrasing may be skipping one point :
    all these factors happening simultaneously.

    Lots of people are coming to realize that economic conditions are getting worse, this is happening worldwide and theres no way of going back to the model it lead us here anyway.
    The game has gotten out of our hands indefinitely and this realization is causing people to take up any job and shift towards a new mentality, compromising to new standards of how to survive in the latest job availabilities and living standards that the latter provides us with.

  4. @ Zirzirikos

    Here in Germany there have been times when people (especially specific ethnicities) would even work for free doing ANY job.
    Well a gun was pointed at their heads from a guy sitting at some watchtower but that is another issue.
    Now that is a reaction worth mentioning. LOLOL


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