This paper provides a detailed overview of the differences across EU member states’ labour markets, through the extensive use of descriptive statistics. The objective is twofold: firstly, it identifies the commonalities and differences in rural labour markets across EU regions and their developments, with special regards to agriculture, and secondly it emphasises the constraints which may hinder the efficient functioning of labour markets. Therefore, the paper starts with a description of the main indicators in the general labour market theory, such as the structure of the population in terms of age and gender distribution, unemployment and activity rates, employment levels, quality of human capital, migration patterns, and so forth. Secondly, we focus on the differences among rural and urban areas to then look closely at the agricultural sector. The institutional framework in which labour market institutions operate is also included. Lastly, as an attempt to summarise the analysis and to classify the EU MS according to some rural and specific agricultural indicators, cluster analysis is also employed. Policy implications include investment in human capital and vocational training, support to young farmers, promoting economic diversification and upgrading infrastructure, with special regards to the new member states and to the Southern parts of Europe.
The authors are researchers at the School of Economics, University of Kent.