Europe has kept down pandemic unemployment
and the U.S. hasn’t. Here’s why.

Kathleen Thelen, Ford Professor of Political Science, examines disparities in US and European unemployment rates in the face of Covid-19.


Katheleen Thelen, Ford Professor of Political Science; photo by Stuart Darsch

Research and Perspectives for the Pandemic
Main Page  | Economic Impacts



"For the first time, the U.S. government is subsidizing companies to hold on to their workers. However, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that Congress passed to fight unemployment in the coronavirus economic crisis is having trouble delivering benefits. Its first round of funds was quickly exhausted.

"Congress’s new bill will add more funds, but the problem goes deeper. To understand what is going on, it’s helpful to understand how European governments approach the same problem: through “short time work” (STW) policies. The PPP program in the United States is plausibly more generous to those it helps than its European equivalents. However, it’s having a harder time fighting unemployment. That’s both because of its design and because of the U.S. government’s weaknesses. Here’s what you need to know."

Full commentary at The Washington Post


Suggested links

Kathleen Thelen's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Archive story:
Work of the future and the future of work for women in political science
Ford Professor Kathleen Thelen addresses challenges of the “gig economy” and gender equity issues in her field.