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Job and Workers Flows in Europe and the US: Specific Skills or Employment Protection?. Midwest Macroeconomics Meetings 2007, April 27-29, 2007, Cleveland, Ohio

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Author Info

  • Alain Delacroix

    (Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur les politiques économiques et l'emploi (CIRPEE))

  • Etienne Wasmer

    (Département d'économie)

Abstract

There is more resistance to layoffs in continental Europe than in the U.S. At the same time, there is some evidence that employed European workers are more productive than their American counterparts. We reconcile these two facts by proposing that some institutions, such as Employment Protection Legislation (EPL), induce workers to invest in and develop job specific skills, making them more productive and leading to costly displacement as these types of skills are lost upon separation from the employer. It is also well established that mobility patterns -flows in and out of unemployment or even movements from job to job, are reduced in continental Europe relative to the U.S. The possibility to invest in skill improvement introduces a complementarity between EPL and the investment decision: more stable matches increase the incentive to accumulate specific skills; but also more productive matches are broken less frequently; hence there is a “mutliplier” effect arising from this complementarity. To quantitatively assess all these propositions, we built a tractable asymmetric information matching model featuring all types of transitions out of employment: layoffs, quits to unemployment and job-to-job transitions. We find that EPL does induce workers to invest more in human capital and may help explain greater resistance to layoffs in Europe. We find that flows out of employment are indeed reduced by EPL. However, allowing for skill investment does not generate any strong multiplier due to the fact several new effects are at play keeping unemployment duration at a low level and thus putting downward pressure on the multiplier. The conclusion of all this may be that EPL matters for explaining specialization and low movements out of jobs, but that low movements out of unemployment may be better explained by other institutions such as unemployment benefits.

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Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number info:hdl:2441/9938.

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Date of creation: 29 Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/9938

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  1. George Alessandria & Alain Delacroix, 2007. "Trade and the (Dis)Incentive to Reform Labor Markets: The Case of Reform in the European Union," Cahiers de recherche 0738, CIRPEE.
  2. A. Lefranc, 2002. "Labor Market Dynamics and Wage Losses of Displaced Workers in France and the United-States," THEMA Working Papers 2002-15, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  3. Alain Delacroix, 2003. "Transitions into Unemployment and the Nature of Firing Costs," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 651-671, July.
  4. Lamo, Ana & Messina, Julián & Wasmer, Etienne, 2006. "Are Specific Skills an Obstacle to Labour Market Adjustment? Theory and an Application to the EU Enlargement," CEPR Discussion Papers 5503, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Henry S. Farber, 2005. "What do we know about job loss in the United States? evidence from the displaced workers survey, 1984-2004," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 13-28.
  8. 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.
  9. Henry S. Farber, 1998. "Mobility and Stability: The Dynamics of Job Change in Labor Markets," Working Papers 779, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Christopher A. Pissarides & Barbara Petrongolo, 2001. "Looking into the Black Box: A Survey of the Matching Function," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 390-431, June.
  11. repec:fth:prinin:400 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  13. Henry S. Farber, 2005. "What do we know about Job Loss in the United States? Evidence from the Displaced Workers Survey, 1984-2004," Working Papers 877, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, December.
  15. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-65, April.
  16. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1991. "Are Workers Permanently Scarred by Job Displacements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 319-24, March.
  17. 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.
  18. Alain Delacroix, 2003. "Heterogeneous Matching with Transferable Utility: Two Labor Market Applications," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(1), pages 313-330, February.
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