Dennis Snower

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Dennis J. Snower
Dennis snower head.jpg
Dennis Snower (2011)
Born (1950-10-14) 14 October 1950 (age 70)
NationalityAmerican, German
InstitutionGlobal Solutions Initiative
Alma materPrinceton University
New College, Oxford
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Dennis J. Snower (born 14 October 1950) is an American-German economist, specialising in macroeconomic theory and policy, labor economics and the psychology of economic decisions in "caring economics". He is President of the Global Solutions Initiative, providing policy advice to the G20, and Professor of Macroeconomics and Sustainability at the German Hertie School. He is former president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Professor of Economics at the Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel, where his labor and macroeconomic research showed that costs of adjusting employment, wages and prices play a central role in macroeconomic fluctuations. His psycho-social economics research indicates that economic decisions are driven by motives that depend on people's physical and social context.

Life and career[edit]

Snower was born in Vienna, Austria, where he went to the American International School. He received a BA and MA from New College, Oxford University, an MA and a PhD from Princeton University. He is a US citizen, married and has two children. He received German citizenship in 2018. [1]

He received a BA and MA from New College, Oxford University (in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 1971), an MA and a PhD from Princeton University (1975).

He served as Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, before he moved to the Vienna Institute for Advanced Studies and then to BirkBeck College, University of London, where he became Professor of Economics. In 2004 he became President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Professor of Economics at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel. He held this position until he reached retirement age at the end of February 2019. He was succeeded by Gabriel Felbermayr.

Snower was a visiting professor at many universities around the world, including Columbia University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, the European University Institute, Stockholm University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Tel Aviv. He has advised a variety of international organizations and national governments on macroeconomic policy, employment policy and welfare state policy.

Work in the field of G20 and T20[edit]

During the German G20 Presidency 2017 Dennis J. Snower, together with Dirk Messner from the German Development Institute (DIE), were mandated to lead the Think 20 (T20), a consortium of think tanks from the G20 countries with the aim of supporting G20 decision-makers with research-based recommendations for action. Unlike other G20 engagement groups, such as Women 20 (W20), Business 20 (B20) or Youth 20 (Y20), the T20 does not represent a lobby group.[2]

From this commitment, Snower founded the Global Solutions Initiative, of which he is president today, and which offers policy advice, in particular for international institutions such as the G20 and the G7. Following the German G20 Presidency, the Initiative has held an annual summit in Berlin, Germany that occurs in the middle of the G20 calendar: The Global Solutions Summit aims to connect representatives of governments, international organizations and business as well as global civil society to discuss solutions to urgent global problems, while making a case for multilateralism and international cooperation. He is also the founder of the think tank association "Council for Global Problem-Solving" (CGP) which aims to develop policy proposals for the G20 and associated international organizations.

Research in Labor Economics[edit]

The insider-outsider theory of employment and unemployment,[3][4][5][6] created by Dennis Snower in conjunction with Assar Lindbeck, explains employment and unemployment in terms of a conflict of interest between insiders and outsiders in the labor market.

Insiders are employees whose positions are protected by labor turnover costs (such as costs of hiring, training, and firing, or costs arising when insiders cooperate with each other but not with outsiders). Outsiders enjoy no such protection.

The chain reaction theory of unemployment,[7][8] conceived by Snower together with Marika Karanassou and Hector Sala, views movements in unemployment as the outcome of the interplay between labor market shocks and a network of lagged adjustment processes. This theory indicates that cyclical and structural unemployment are interdependent. This implies that the lagged adjustment processes – for example, current employment depends on past employment on account of labor market adjustment costs – are shape both for the fluctuations in unemployment and the long-run unemployment rate.

The theory on the reorganization of work towards multi-tasking,[9][10][11] invented by Dennis Snower in conjunction with Assar Lindbeck, identifies driving forces underlying the shift from “Tayloristic” organizations (characterized by specialization by tasks) to “holistic” organizations (featuring job rotation, integration of tasks and learning across tasks). It was one of the first contributions analyzing the fundamental changes in the world of work arising from the digital revolution.

Research on the psychological and social foundations of economics[edit]

Caring economics,[12][13] created by Snower in conjunction with Tania Singer and their respective research teams, laid the analytical and empirical foundations for a new theory of microeconomic decision making, based on underlying psychological motives. The analysis rests on the insights that all economic behavior is psychologically motivated (along the lines explained below), everyone has access to an array of discrete motivation systems, which affect their objectives, as well as their beliefs and perceptions, and which motive is active at any particular point in time depends on the person’s physical and social context.

Together with George Akerlof and Steven Bosworth, Snower made seminal contributions to identity and narrative economics.[14][15] This work explores the formation of competitive versus cooperative identities and the channels whereby narratives affect economic decisions.

Snower laid the theoretical and empirical groundwork for a reappraisal of the Phillips curve[16][17][18][19][20] – the tradeoff between inflation and unemployment – in conjunction with Liam Graham, Marika Karanassou, Hector Sala, Mewael Tessfaselassie and Andrea Vaona. This approach suggests that unemployment is not independent of inflation in the long run, but instead explores the circumstances under which there is an inverse long-run relation between inflation and unemployment. This theory calls into question the conventional claim that real economic activity is independent of monetary phenomena in the long run. The approach rests on the theory of “frictional growth,” focusing on the interplay between nominal frictions and money growth. This work breaks the conventional compartmentalization of macroeconomics into short-term macroeconomic fluctuations versus long-term growth.

Snower developed new theories of sluggish price adjustment.[21][22] With Assar Lindbeck, Snower showed how the sluggish adjustment of prices and wages in response to macroeconomic shocks depends on lags in the production process. The longer the production lags, the more slowly prices and wages adjust. With Steffen Ahrens and Inske Pirshel, Snower examined how asymmetric price sluggishness is generated by “loss aversion,” the phenomenon that people are more sensitive to utility losses from price increases than to utility gains from price decreases.

In conjunction with Wolfgang Lechthaler and Christian Merkel, Snower made seminal contributions to the macroeconomics under labor turnover costs.[23][24][25] These contributions show how labor turnover costs help explain the persistent effects of macroeconomic shocks on aggregate output and employment, as well as strong amplification effects of real and monetary shocks on unemployment and the job finding rate.

Dennis Snower was one of the originators of the macroeconomics of imperfect competition,[26][27] as he was among the first to provide imperfectly competitive microfoundations for macroeconomic models. Together with Assar Lindbeck, he also made seminal contributions to our understanding of how macroeconomic shocks are transmitted to the labor market.

Research on the economics of imperfect information[edit]

The theory of “high-low search”[28][29] in product markets, which Snower created together with Steve Alpern, shows how firms use their pricing and product supply decisions to gain information about product demand under conditions of radical uncertainty. The analysis was also extended to the labor market to explain unemployment as an “information gathering device” under uncertainty.

Together with Alessio Brown and Christian Merkel, Snower created the incentive theory of matching.[30][31] In contrast to the conventional theory of matching in the labor market, unemployed workers and vacant jobs are not matched through an arbitrary matching function, but rather the labor market matching process is analyzed as the outcome of a two-sided search process among workers and firms facing heterogeneous economic conditions.

Research on economic policy[edit]

Dennis Snower is the author of the benefit transfer program and other empowering labor market policies,[32][33][34][35][36][37] whereby the unemployed receive jobs and training incentives in accordance with their needs. These policies redistribute economic incentives, not money, to the disadvantaged in the labor market. Thereby Snower became one of the earliest architects of active labor market policies. In the benefit transfer program, unemployment benefits are converted into hiring and training subsidies for the long-term unemployed.

He also analyzed the implications of replacing current welfare systems by individualized welfare accounts.[38][39][40] These accounts include retirement, employment, health and human capital accounts. Instead of paying the taxes to finance the welfare state, people are to make ongoing, mandatory contributions to each of their welfare accounts, covering their major welfare needs. Redistribution is achieved by taxing the accounts of the wealthy and subsidizing the accounts of the poor.

As overarching theme for G20 policy making, Dennis Snower initiated the concept of recoupling economic and social prosperity,[41][42] in interaction with Colm Kelly and Blair Sheppard. Recoupling policies are designed not only to reduce income inequalities, but also promote empowerment and social solidarity of people displaced by the forces of globalization and automation.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Dennis Snower and Assar Lindbeck, Involuntary Unemployment as an Insider-Outsider Dilemma (1984).[43]
  • Dennis Snower and Assar Lindbeck, The Insider-Outsider Theory of Employment and Unemployment (1988). ISBN 0262121395
  • Pilar Díaz-Vazquez; Dennis J. Snower (2002). On-the-job training and the effects of insider power. IZA.
  • "Dennis Snower". JSTOR.

Other activities[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]



  1. ^ "Es wird grosse soziale Konflikte geben". Welt (in German). January 3, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "The G20: 9 facts and figures" (PDF). Bertelsmann Stiftung. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  3. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (1986). "Wage Setting, Unemployment and Insider-Outsider Relations". American Economic Review. 76 (2): 235–9. hdl:10419/433.
  4. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (1988). "Cooperation, Harassment and Involuntary Unemployment: Reply". American Economic Review. 78 (1): 167–188.
  5. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (1989). The Insider-Outsider Theory of Employment and Unemployment. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Pres.
  6. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (2001). "Insiders versus Outsiders". Journal of Economic Perspectives. 15 (1): 165–188. doi:10.1257/jep.15.1.165.
  7. ^ Snower, Dennis; Karanassou, Marika (1998). "How Labor Market Flexibility Affects Unemployment: Long-Term Implications of the Chain Reaction Theory". Economic Journal. 108 (448): 832–849. doi:10.1111/1468-0297.00318. hdl:10419/2226.
  8. ^ Snower, Dennis; Karanassou, Marika (1997). "Is the Natural Rate a Reference Point?". European Economic Review. 41 (3–5): 559–569. doi:10.1016/S0014-2921(97)00022-6. hdl:10419/924.
  9. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (2001). "Centralized Bargaining and Reorganized Work: Are They Compatible?". European Economic Review. 45 (10): 1851–1875. doi:10.1016/S0014-2921(01)00086-1.
  10. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (2000). "Multi-task Learning and the Reorganization of Work". Journal of Labor Economics. 18 (3): 353–376. doi:10.1086/209962. hdl:10419/2257.
  11. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (1996). "Reorganization of Firms and Labor Market Inequality". American Economic Review. 86 (2): 315–321. hdl:10419/1237.
  12. ^ Snower, D; Chierchia, G; Parianen Lesemann, F.H; Vogel, M; Singer, T (2017). "Caring Cooperators and Powerful Punishers: Differential Effects of Induced Care and Power Motivation on Different Types of Economic Decision Making". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): 7. Bibcode:2017NatSR...711068C. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11580-8. PMC 5594000. PMID 28894206.
  13. ^ Snower, Dennis; Bosworth, Steven; Singer, Tania (2016). "Cooperation, Motivation and Social Balance". Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 126: 72–94. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2015.12.005.
  14. ^ Snower, Dennis; Bosworth, Steven (2016). "Identity-Driven Cooperation versus Competition" (PDF). American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings. 106 (5): 420–424. doi:10.1257/aer.p20161041. hdl:10419/130402.
  15. ^ Snower, Dennis; George, Akerlof (2016). "Bread and Bullets". Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 126: 58–71. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2015.10.021.
  16. ^ Snower, Dennis; Ahrens, Steffen (2014). "Envy, guilt, and the Phillips curve" (PDF). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 99: 69–84. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2013.12.015.
  17. ^ Snower, Dennis; Graham, Liam (2008). "Hyperbolic Discounting and the Phillips Curve" (PDF). Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. 40 (2–3): 427–448. doi:10.1111/j.1538-4616.2008.00120.x.
  18. ^ Tesfaselassie, M (2017). "Job Turnover, Trend Growth and the Long-Run Phillips Curve" (PDF). Macroeconomic Dynamics. 21 (4).
  19. ^ Vaona, Andrea (2008). "Increasing Returns to Scale and the Long-Run Phillips Curve". Economics Letters. 100 (1): 83–86. doi:10.1016/j.econlet.2007.11.013. hdl:10419/3818.
  20. ^ Snower, Dennis; Karanassou, Marika; Sala, Hector (2005). "A Reappraisal of the Inflation-Unemployment Tradeoff" (PDF). European Journal of Political Economy. 25 (1): 1–32.
  21. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (1999). "Price Dynamics and Production Lags". American Economic Review. 89 (2): 81–88. doi:10.1257/aer.89.2.81.
  22. ^ Snower, Dennis; Ahrens, Steffen; Pirschel, Inske (2017). "A Theory of Price Adjustment under Loss Aversion". Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 134: 78–95. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2016.12.008.
  23. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lechthaler, Wolfgang; Merkl, Christian (2010). "Monetary Persistence and the Labor Market: A New Perspective" (PDF). Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control. 34 (5): 968–983. doi:10.1016/j.jedc.2010.01.004.
  24. ^ Snower, Dennis; Merkl, Christian (2009). "Monetary Persistence, Imperfect Competition and Staggering Complementarities" (PDF). Macroeconomic Dynamics. 13 (1): 81–106. doi:10.1017/S1365100508070417. hdl:10419/3675.
  25. ^ Snower, Dennis; Merkl, Christian (2006). "The Caring Hand that Cripples: The East German Labor Market after Reunification". American Economic Review. 96 (2): 375–382. doi:10.1257/000282806777212314. hdl:10419/3828.
  26. ^ Snower, Dennis; Lindbeck, Assar (1994). "How are Product Demand Changes Transmitted to the Labor Market?". Economic Journal. 104 (423): 386–398. doi:10.2307/2234758. hdl:10419/1200. JSTOR 2234758. S2CID 52026559.
  27. ^ Snower, Dennis (1983). "Imperfect Competition, Underemployment and Crowding Out". Oxford Economic Papers. 35: 245–70. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.oep.a041612. hdl:10419/434.
  28. ^ Snower, Dennis; Alpern, Steve (1988). "High-Low Search' in Product and Labor Markets". American Economic Review. 78 (2): 356–362.
  29. ^ Snower, Dennis; Alpern, Steve (1991). "Unemployment through 'Learning from Experience". Issues in Contemporary Economics: 42–74. hdl:10419/1161.
  30. ^ Snower, Dennis; Brown, Alessio; Merlk, Christian (2015). "An Incentive Theory of Matching" (PDF). Macroeconomic Dynamics. 19 (3): 643–668. CiteSeerX doi:10.1017/S1365100513000527.
  31. ^ Snower, D; Brown, A; Merkl, C (2014). "The Minimum Wage from a Two-Sided Perspective". Economics Letters. 124 (3): 389–391. doi:10.1016/j.econlet.2014.06.020.
  32. ^ Snower, Dennis (1994). "Converting Unemployment Benefits into Employment Subsidies". American Economic Review. 84 (2): 65–70. hdl:10419/1213.
  33. ^ Snower, D; Orszag, J.M (2003). "Designing Employment Subsidies". Labour Economics. 10 (5): 557–572. doi:10.1016/S0927-5371(03)00035-6.
  34. ^ Snower, D; Orszag, J.M (2001). "Incapacity Benefits and Employment Policy". Labour Economics. 9 (5): 631–641. doi:10.1016/S0927-5371(02)00050-7. hdl:10419/2803.
  35. ^ Snower, Dennis; Booth, Alison (1996). "The Low-Skill, Bad-Job Trap". Acquiring Skills: 109–124. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511582332.007. ISBN 9780521472050. SSRN 883810.
  36. ^ Snower, Dennis; Coe, David. T (1997). "Policy Complementarities: The Case for Fundamental Labor Market Reform". IMF Staff Papers. 44 (1): 1–35. doi:10.2307/3867495. hdl:10419/916. JSTOR 3867495.
  37. ^ Snower, Dennis; Orszag, Mike (1998). "Anatomy of Policy Complementarities". Swedish Economic Policy Review. 5 (2): 303–345. hdl:10419/1043.
  38. ^ Snower, D; Brown, A; Orszag, J.M (2008). "Unemployment Accounts and Employment Incentives". European Journal of Political Economy. 24 (3): 587–604. doi:10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2008.06.006. hdl:10419/3810.
  39. ^ Snower, Dennis; Folster, Stefan; Gidehag, Robert; Orszag, J. Michael (2003). "Assessing Welfare Accounts". Alternatives for Welfare Policy: Coping with Internationalisation and Demographic Change: 255–275.
  40. ^ Snower, Dennis (1993). "The Future of the Welfare State". Economic Journal. 103 (418): 700–717. doi:10.2307/2234543. JSTOR 2234543.
  41. ^ Snower, Dennis (2017). "Beyond Capital and Wealth". Economics e-Journal. 91: 1–14.
  42. ^ Snower, Dennis (2018). "G20 at a Crossroads: The Future of Global Governance". Economics e-Journal. 21: 1–13.
  43. ^ Lindbeck, A.; Snower, D.J. (1984). Involuntary Unemployment as an Insider-outsider Dilemma. Institute for International Economic Studies. Retrieved 2015-03-27.
  44. ^ 2012 Annual Report Commerzbank.
  45. ^ Advisory Board HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt.
  46. ^ Scientific Advisory Board Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).