International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 14 > Issue 4

Labour Market Consequences of a Transition to a Circular Economy: A Review Paper

Frithjof Laubinger, OECD Environment Directorate, France, , Elisa Lanzi, OECD Environment Directorate, France, , Jean Chateau, OECD Environment Directorate, France,
Suggested Citation
Frithjof Laubinger, Elisa Lanzi and Jean Chateau (2020), "Labour Market Consequences of a Transition to a Circular Economy: A Review Paper", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 14: No. 4, pp 381-416.

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2020
© 2020 F. Laubinger, E. Lanzi and J. Chateau
Information systems and industries,  Information systems and society,  Information systems management,  Environmental economics,  Industrial organization,  Labor economics,  Public economics,  International relations,  Environmental politics,  Climate change,  Water,  Forestry
JEL Codes: O14Q52Q53J4C68
Circular economyresource efficiencynatural resourcesemployment and redistributive effectslabour marketsmacro-economic modelling


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Potential Employment Impacts of Circular Economy Policies 
3. Review of Economic Modelling Literature on the Circular Economy Transition 
4. Skills Requirements for a Circular Economy Transition 
5. Conclusions 
ANNEX 1. Detailed Overview of Reviewed Modelling Studies and Scenarios 


Circular economy policies aim at reducing resource intensity and use throughout the economy, while also seizing economic opportunities. Employment benefits are also often emphasised. However, the employment effect of circular economy policies is still unclear and difficult to quantify, as the literature on this topic is still relatively new. This paper is the first of its kind to review the state-of-the art literature on the labour market implications of a transition to a circular economy. The review focuses in particular on ex-ante economic modelling studies and compares their employment and resource efficiency outcomes. The reviewed studies suggest that a transition to a circular economy can generate a positive net effect on employment, though the labour implications can differ widely across different sectors and regions and some may experience significant losses. Furthermore, the way in which revenues from materials taxes are recycled can substantially influence the employment outcome.