IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The optimality and overuse of labour in Estonian manufacturing enterprises


  • Jaan Masso
  • Almas Heshmati


Transition economies need labour market flexibility for successful restructuring and reallocation of the labour force, and for coping with the requirements of the European Monetary Union. In this paper we apply a novel approach to the issue of labour market flexibility in transition countries by studying the optimality and efficiency of labour usage in Estonian manufacturing enterprises. We employ a dynamic model in which both the long-run optimal level of employment and the speed at which actual employment is adjusted to the optimal are modelled as functions of several variables. Firm-level panel data of 1995-99 were used. The results showed that in the long run, employment responds most strongly to wages, followed by value added and capital stock. The speed of adjustment, labour use optimality and efficiency all show much greater variations over firms than over time. In the course of time, both labour-saving technical change and an increase in the efficiency of labour usage occur. On average, there is shortage of labour compared to firms' own optimal level, along with overuse of labour compared to best-practice technology. Capital seems to be a binding constraint on the development of employment in the Estonian labour market. Copyright (c) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaan Masso & Almas Heshmati, 2004. "The optimality and overuse of labour in Estonian manufacturing enterprises," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 12(4), pages 683-720, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:12:y:2004:i:4:p:683-720

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Funke & Jörg Rahn, 2002. "How efficient is the East German economy? An exploration with microdata," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 10(1), pages 201-223, March.
    2. George E. Battese & Lennart Hjalmarsson & Almas Heshmati, 2000. "Efficiency of labour use in the Swedish banking industry: a stochastic frontier approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 623-640.
    3. Nauro F. Campos & Abrizio Coricelli, 2002. "Growth in Transition: What We Know, What We Don't, and What We Should," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 793-836, September.
    4. Pissarides, Francesca & Singer, Miroslav & Svejnar, Jan, 2003. "Objectives and constraints of entrepreneurs: evidence from small and medium size enterprises in Russia and Bulgaria," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 503-531, September.
    5. Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Evidence On The Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 15-26, February.
    6. Brown, J. David & Earle, John S., 2002. "Gross Job Flows in Russian Industry Before and After Reforms: Has Destruction Become More Creative?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 96-133, March.
    7. Raul Eamets & Urmas Varblane & Kaja Sostra, 2003. "External Macroeconomic Shocks and the Estonian economy: How did the Russian Financial Crisis affect Estonian Unemployment and Foreign Trade?," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 3(2), pages 5-24, July.
    8. Haouas Ilham & Yagoubi Mahmoud & Heshmati Almas, 2003. "Labor-use Efficiency in Tunisian Manufacturing Industiries," Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, De Gruyter, vol. 1(3), pages 1-20, December.
    9. Polona Domadenik & Janez Pra??nikar & Jan Svejnar, 2003. "Defensive and Strategic Restructuring of Firms during the Transition to a Market Economy," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 541, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    10. Swati Basu & Saul Estrin & Jan Svejnar, 2000. "Employment and Wages in Enterprises Under Communism and in Transition: Evidence from Central Europe and Russia," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 114, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    11. Konings, Jozef & Lehmann, Hartmut, 2002. "Marshall and Labor Demand in Russia: Going Back to Basics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 134-159, March.
    12. Subal Kumbhakar & Almas Heshmati & Lennart Hjalmarsson, 2002. "How Fast Do Banks Adjust? A Dynamic Model of Labor-Use with an Application to Swedish Banks," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 79-102, July.
    13. Heshmati, Almas & Ncube, Mkhululi, 1998. "A Flexible Adjustment Model of Employment with Application to Zimbabwe's Manufacturing Industries," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 278, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 15 Aug 2003.
    14. Tito Boeri & Katherine Terrell, 2002. "Institutional Determinants of Labor Reallocation in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 51-76, Winter.
    15. Baltagi, Badi H & Griffin, James M, 1988. "A General Index of Technical Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 20-41, February.
    16. Eamets, Raul & Masso, Jaan, 2004. "Labour Market Flexibility and Employment Protection Regulation in the Baltic States," IZA Discussion Papers 1147, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Kumbhakar, Subal C & Hjalmarsson, Lennart, 1995. "Labour-Use Efficiency in Swedish Social Insurance Offices," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(1), pages 33-47, Jan.-Marc.
    18. Helena Hannula & Katrin Tamm, 2002. "Restructuring And Efficiency In The Estonian Manufacturing Industry: The Role Of Foreign Ownership," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 15, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia), revised 2003.
    19. Svejnar, Jan, 1999. "Labor markets in the transitional Central and East European economies," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 2809-2857 Elsevier.
    20. Faggio, Giulia & Konings, Jozef, 1999. "Gross Job Flows and Firm Growth in Transition Countries: Evidence Using Firm Level Data on Five Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 2261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ali Saggay & Almas Heshmati & Mohamed Dhif, 2007. "Effects of trade liberalization on domestic prices: Some evidence from Tunisian manufacturing," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 54(1), pages 148-175, March.
    2. Piekkola, Hannu, 2006. "Tax cuts and employment: Evidence from Finnish linked employer-employee data," Discussion Papers 1041, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    3. Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas Velde & Jan Svejnar, 2017. "Effects Of Labor Reallocation On Productivity And Inequality—Insights From Studies On Transition," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(3), pages 712-732, July.
    4. Maaja Vadi, 2003. "Background to the organisational culture developments in transitional Estonia," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration,in: Organisational Culture in Estonia : Manifestations and Consequences, volume 16, chapter 1, pages 27-46 Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    5. Jan Svejnar & Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde, 2015. "Productivity and Inequality Effects of Rapid Labor Reallocation – Insights from a Meta-Analysis of Studies on Transition," Working Papers 2015-11, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    6. Heshmati, Almas, 2007. "Labor Market Policy Options of the Kurdistan Regional Government," IZA Discussion Papers 3247, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Tomasz Mickiewicz & Kate Bishop & Urmas Varblane, 2004. "Financial Constraints in Investment - Foreign Versus Domestic Firms. Panel Data Results From Estonia, 1995-1999," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-648, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    8. Heshmati, Almas & Rashidghalam, Masoomeh, 2016. "Labour Productivity in Kenyan Manufacturing and Service Industries," IZA Discussion Papers 9923, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Tyrowicz, Joanna & Van der Velde, Lucas, 2017. "Labor Reallocation and Demographics," IZA Discussion Papers 11249, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. repec:mes:eaeuec:v:55:y:2017:i:6:p:543-556 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde, 2014. "Can We Really Explain Worker Flows in Transition Economies?," Working Papers 2014-28, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    12. Stanislaw Cichocki & Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde, 2017. "Cyclical Trend of Labor Reallocation in Poland: Transition and Structural Change," Eastern European Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(6), pages 543-556, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • P23 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:12:y:2004:i:4:p:683-720. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.