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Reforming the Labour Market in Spain

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  • Anita Wölfl
  • Juan S. Mora-Sanguinetti

Abstract

After steady employment growth since the 1990s, Spain has experienced the sharpest increase in unemployment among OECD countries during the crisis, amplified by structural problems of the labour market. Very high de facto severance payment of permanent contracts has resulted in a rigid dual market with adverse effects on unemployment and productivity. The collective wage bargaining system has hindered firms from adapting to macroeconomic shocks exacerbating their negative effects on the labour market. The recent labour market reform legislation is a positive step to reduce excessive protection of workers in permanent contracts, although some uncertainty remains on how courts will interpret it. It also makes it easier for firms to opt out from higher level collective agreements. The large drop-out rate from lower secondary education is an important factor explaining very high unemployment among young workers. Better access of young people to training is an effective tool to keep them out of a depressed labour market. Finally, the matching of people to jobs, notably through the public employment services, needs to be made more efficient, all the more so under currently tight fiscal constraints. Although the recent reform allows private for-profit firms to provide placement services, more needs to be done. Performance of regional public employment services should be benchmarked and incentives of unemployment benefit recipients to search for a job increased. Réformer le marché du travail en Espagne Après avoir connu une croissance régulière de l’emploi durant les années 90, l’Espagne a accusé la plus forte hausse du chômage de tous les pays de l’OCDE pendant la crise, amplifiée par les problèmes structurels du marché du travail. Les indemnités de licenciement très élevées obtenues de facto par les titulaires de contrats permanents ont créé des rigidités et abouti à un dualisme du marché du travail qui a des effets négatifs sur l’emploi et la productivité. Le système de négociation collective des salaires a empêché les entreprises de s’adapter aux chocs macroéconomiques et donc d’en atténuer l’impact sur l’emploi. La législation de réforme du marché du travail devrait permettre de réduire la protection excessive dont bénéficie l’emploi permanent, mais certaines incertitudes subsistent quant à la façon dont ce texte sera interprété par les tribunaux. Ces dispositions permettent plus aisément aux entreprises de ne pas appliquer les conventions collectives de haut niveau. Le taux élevé d’abandon des études au premier cycle de l’enseignement secondaire explique pour beaucoup le très fort chômage qui sévit chez les jeunes. Élargir l’accès des jeunes à la formation serait un moyen efficace de les tenir à l’écart d’un marché du travail déprimé. Enfin, il y aurait lieu d’améliorer l’efficacité des activités de placement, notamment au travers des services publics de l’emploi, et ce d’autant plus compte tenue des contraintes budgétaires actuelles. La réforme récente autorise les entreprises à but lucratif à offrir des services de placement, mais il faut aller plus loin. Dans cette optique, il faudrait soumettre les services publics régionaux de l’emploi à des évaluations de performance et inciter davantage les chômeurs indemnisés à rechercher un emploi.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 845.

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Date of creation: 17 Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:845-en

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Keywords: Spain; employment protection; collective bargaining system; matching process; unemployment benefits; continuous training; prestations de chômage; appariement entre offre et demande de travail; système de négociation collective; formation continue; Espagne; protection de l'emploi;

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References

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  1. Helmut Hofer, 2007. "The Severance Pay Reform in Austria ("Abfertigung neu")," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 5(4), pages 41-48, 06.
  2. Du Caju, Philip & Gautier, Erwan & Momferatou, Daphne & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie, 2008. "Institutional features of wage bargaining in 23 European countries, the US and Japan," Working Paper Series 0974, European Central Bank.
  3. Samuel Bentolila & Juan Jose Dolado & Juan F. Jimeno, 2008. "Two-tier Employment Protection Reforms: The Spanish Experience," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 6(4), pages 49-56, December.
  4. Tobias Brändle & Wolf Dieter Heinbach, 2013. "Opening Clauses in Collective Bargaining Agreements: More Flexibility to Save Jobs?," Review of Economics, Lucius & Lucius, vol. 64(2), pages 159-192.
  5. Romain Duval & Jørgen Elmeskov & Lukas Vogel, 2007. "Structural Policies and Economic Resilience to Shocks," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 567, OECD Publishing.
  6. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2006. "Employment Patterns in OECD Countries: Reassessing the Role of Policies and Institutions," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 486, OECD Publishing.
  7. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Stefano Scarpetta, 2005. "Product Market Reforms and Employment in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 472, OECD Publishing.
  8. Samuel Bentolila & Juan F. Jimeno, 2003. "Spanish Unemployment: The End of the Wild Ride?," CESifo Working Paper Series 940, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. James Costain & Juan F. Jimeno & Carlos Thomas, 2010. "Employment fluctuations in a dual labor market," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1013, Banco de Espa�a.
  10. Florentino Felgueroso & Manuel Hidalgo & SergiJiménez Martín, 2010. "Explaining the fall of the skill wage premium in Spain," Working Papers 2010-19, FEDEA.
  11. Rinne, Ulf & Uhlendorff, Arne & Zhao, Zhong, 2008. "Vouchers and Caseworkers in Public Training Programs: Evidence from the Hartz Reform in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3910, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Reinhard Koman & Ulrich Schuh & Andrea Weber, 2005. "The Austrian Severance Pay Reform: Toward a Funded Pension Pillar," Empirica, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 255-274, 09.
  13. Zwick, Thomas, 2002. "Continuous Training and Firm Productivity in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 02-50, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Deakin, Simon, 2013. "Addressing labour market segmentation : the role of labour law," ILO Working Papers 483448, International Labour Organization.
  2. Barge-Gil, Andrés & Conti, Annamaria, 2013. "Firm R&D units and outsourcing partners: A matching story," MPRA Paper 44090, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Molina, Oscar & Miguélez, Fausto, 2013. "From negotiation to imposition : social dialogue in austerity times in Spain," ILO Working Papers 483344, International Labour Organization.
  4. Andrea ÉLTETÕ, 2011. "The economic crisis and its management in Spain," Eastern Journal of European Studies, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 2, pages 41-55, June.

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