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(b) Discuss if a low and stable rate of unemployment is what governments should only aim for. [15]


(b) Discuss if a low and stable rate of unemployment is what governments should only aim for. [15]

Should governments only aim for a low and stable rate of unemployment? First, what is unemployment? First, this paper defines unemployment. A low and stable rate of unemployment refers to a situation where workers who are willing and able to work are largely able to find employment, in contradistinction to a situation of unemployment. This is indeed one of the macroeconomic objectives of governments. However, governments also have other objectives, such as sustained economic growth, price stability, and a healthy Balance of Payments (BOP). This essay argues whether a low and stable rate of unemployment is the only macroeconomic objective that governments should aim for would depend on the economic conditions and status of the economy.

Increases in AD in a Developing Economy

This paper argues that a low and stable rate of unemployment could be the primary aim if the economy is a developing economy, as it would achieve other macroeconomic objectives relevant to developing economies. By assumption, a developing economy can be characterised by having spare capacity and massive unemployment. A developing economy is characterised this way as there is more spare capacity in such economies because they have huge populations. A low and stable rate of unemployment means more employed workers being able to spend more on consumption (C). Firms can take this steady increase in C as an indication for more investment (I). The rise in C, I and (X – M) would lead to a rise of the AD of the economy, and the economy would reach full employment eventually.

Other macroeconomic objectives can be achieved because of a focus on low unemployment. The General Price Level (GPL) can be considered virtually unchanged due to the spare capacity of the developing economy. Inflation is defined as a persistent and sustained increase in the general price level, and while inflation can be dangerous, mild inflation can be seen as useful as it stimulates economic growth and production. Production would increase, leading to more workers being employed. This would trigger an increase in the AD due to the probable increase in the components of C, I, G and (X – M). As a result, the economy is able to achieve sustained economic growth. This leads to governments being able to collect a steady stream of taxes from the economy. The tax revenue collected can potentially be used for basic needs of housing, healthcare, and education, among other things. This helps to increase the standard of living for the economy. Hence, all these effects collectively would lead to full employment, with stable inflation, and economic growth, which are all good objectives for the developing economy, but if pursued to its logical end, inflation could result once the developing economy enters developed status or if it hits the full employment level.

Increases in AD in a Developed Economy

However, a low and stable rate of unemployment should not be what governments should only aim for if the economy is a developed economy. A developed economy can be described as having its AD near or at the full employment level (Yf); developed economies are characterised as such as there is less spare capacity there, because, due to their low and stable rate of unemployment, developed economies are usually operating near to full employment (Yf) or even at full employment. The effects of a low and stable rate of unemployment would translate into an increase in the AD. Assuming an unchanged AS, an increase in the AD is undesirable. This is because the increase of AD results in an increase in the GPL. In such economies, such inflation would cause overheating in the economy as the GPL increases while real national output remains the same. An increase of the AD beyond a certain point would result in hyperinflation affecting the objective of price stability. Hyperinflation would cause increases in the prices of products, leading to the loss of the value of money.

Hyperinflation would also affect the aim of having a satisfactory balance of payments (BOP), for instance, a BOP surplus where there are more exports than imports. With higher prices, the export price competitiveness of the economy would fall as domestic goods are now more expensive relative to other economies. There would also be an increase in the amount of imports (M) as foreign goods are now cheaper. This would lead to more imports than exports. Though one can argue that the fall in the net exports (X – M) could be a corrective mechanism to bring AD down, it would not be applicable as developed economies tend to import more than export, generally due to their high incomes and wealth. Hence, if a low and stable rate of unemployment is the only aim of such economies, it would compromise other macroeconomic aims of price stability and having a healthy BOP. Therefore, a low and stable rate of unemployment should not be the only macroeconomic objective that governments of such economies should aim for.

Conclusions

In conclusion, whether a low and stable rate of unemployment should be what governments should only aim for would depend on the conditions of the economy in question, with developing countries possibly focusing more on employment. There are also other macroeconomic objectives that governments should also aim for, such as low inflation, economic growth, and a healthy BOP, and there seem to be trade-offs when focusing solely on one macroeconomic goal. A delicate balancing act should and must be maintained. In the final analysis, governments should aim for a set of macroeconomic aims rather than only having one aim. 


Junior College (JC) Economics Essays: Tutor's Comments - This Economics paper is part (b) of a two part question on unemployment in Singapore. It was written and contributed by TJL, an Economics teacher I knew from PGDE (JC) and National Institute of Education (NIE) times, and who is an excellent, motivated, and hardworking Economics tutor. However, having said that, as part of Socratic questioning and learning for the benefit of students - TEACHER'S QUESTION: putting yourself into the shoes of an Economics tutor, how would you improve on this essay? Reflect on the essay's structure, and reflect on how you would make this essay better, stronger, tighter, and more evaluative in the conclusion. Think about it. Think about it some more. Do remember to read Economics essays with a critical, probing, and intellectual mind, because you want to think of ways of how you can learn, study, and revise Economics, as well as improve on your essay writing skills and approaches to Economics examinations. Thanks for reading and cheers!

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