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Uncertainty and the Politics of Employment Protection

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  • Vindigni, Andrea

    (Princeton U)

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    Abstract

    This paper investigates the role that idiosyncratic uncertainty plays in shaping social preferences over the degree of labor market flexibility, in a general equilibrium model of dynamic labor demand where the productivity of firms evolves over time as a Geometric Brownian mo- tion. A key result demonstrated is that how the economy responds to shocks, i.e. unexpected changes in the drift and standard deviation of the stochastic process describing the dynamics of productivity, depends on the power of labor to extract rents and on the status quo level of firing costs. In particular, we show that when firing costs are relatively low to begin with, a transition to a rigid labor market is favored by all and only the employed workers with idiosyncratic productivity below some threshold value. A more volatile environment, and a lower rate of productivity growth, i.e. "bad times", increase the political support for more labor market rigidity only where labor appropriates relatively large rents. Moreover, we demonstrate that when the status quo level of firing costs is relatively high, the preservation of a rigid labor market is favored by the employed with intermediate productivity, whereas all other workers favor more flexibility. The coming of better economic conditions need not favor the demise of high firing costs in rigid high-rent economies, because "good times" cut down the support for flexibility among the least productive employed workers. The model provides some new insights on the comparative dynamics of labor market institutions in the U.S. and in Europe over the last few decades, shedding some new light both on the reasons for the original build-up of "Eurosclerosis", and for its the persistence up to the present day.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy in its series Papers with number 05-27-2008.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:ecl:prirpe:05-27-2008

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    1. Daron Agemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2006. "Emergence and Persistence of Inefficient States," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 54, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    2. Brügemann, Björn, 2006. "Does Employment Protection Create Its Own Political Support?," IZA Discussion Papers 2286, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-38, October.
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    5. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
    6. Andrea Vindigni, 2002. "Uncertainty and the Politics of Employment Protection," Working Papers 844, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. Stephen Coate & Stephen Morris, . "Policy Persistence," Penn CARESS Working Papers 8a66677895e9fcb3f6d813c0c, Penn Economics Department.
    8. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
    9. Diego A. Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2006. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 167-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Saint-Paul, G., 1993. "On the Political Economy of Labor Market Flexibility," DELTA Working Papers 93-02, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
    11. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1999. "Inefficient Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2122, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "A Positive Theory Of Geographic Mobility And Social Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(1), pages 263-303, 02.
    13. Giuseppe Bertola, 1991. "Flexibility, Investment, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 3864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
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    17. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2002. "The Political Economy of Employment Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 672-701, June.
    18. repec:iza:izadps:dp1067 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M & Gomme, Paul, 1994. "Labor Turnover and the Natural Rate of Unemployment: Efficiency Wage versus Frictional Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 276-315, April.
    20. Hassler, John & Rodriguez Mora, Jose V., 1999. "Employment turnover and the public allocation of unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 55-83, July.
    21. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
    22. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
    23. Pedro Portugal & Olivier Blanchard, 2001. "What Hides Behind an Unemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 187-207, March.
    24. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Vincent Anesi & Philippe De Donder, 2013. "A coalitional theory of unemployment insurance and employment protection," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 941-977, April.

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