Labor Adjustment Under Different Institutional Structures: A Case Study of Germany and the United States
AbstractLike most Western European countries, Germany stringently regulates dismissals and layoffs. Critics contend that this regulation raises the costs of employment adjustment and hence impedes employers' ability to respond to fluctuations in demand. Other German labor policies, however, most especially the availability of unemployment insurance benefits for those on short time, facilitate the adjustment of average hours per worker in lieu of layoffs. Building on earlier work, we compare the adjustment of employment, hours and inventories to demand shocks in the German and U.S. manufacturing sectors. We find that, in the short run, whereas U.S. employers rely principally on the adjustment of employment levels to respond to demand shocks, German employers rely principally on the adjustment of average hours per worker. The adjustment of overall labor input is generally similar in the two countries. Short-time work makes a very important contribution to short-run hours adjustment in Germany. We find little evidence that inventories help to buffer demand fluctuations in either country. Our findings suggest that, given appropriate supporting institutions, strong worker job security can be compatible with employers' need for flexibility in staffing levels.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number 94-26.
Date of creation: Jun 1994
Date of revision:
Note: A revised version of this paper appears in F. Butler, et al., eds. Institutional Frameworks and Labor Market Performance: Comparative Views on the U.S. and German Economies. London: Routledge, 1995. Please cite the revised version.
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More information through EDIRC
labor; adjustment; layoffs; Germany; work; hours;
Other versions of this item:
- Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 1995. "Labor Adjustment under Different Institutional Structures: A Case Study of Germany and the United States," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Friedrich Buttler & Wolfgang Franz & Ronald Schettkat & David Soskice (ed.), Institutional Frameworks and Labor Market Performance: Comparative Views on the U.S. and German Economies, pages 285-315 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
- Susan N. Houseman & Katharine G. Abraham, 1993. "Labor Adjustment Under Different Institutional Structures: A Case Study of Germany and The United States," NBER Working Papers 4548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
- J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
- J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
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