Does the market provide sufficient employment protection?
We ask whether there is an efficiency rationale for public intervention in the form of an employment protection policy. Unlike most of the literature supporting current employment protection legislation we allow employers and workers to include severance payments in their private contracts. We focus attention on a model where firms learn over time about the value of the match. If future wage bargaining cannot be prevented, and even though severance payments may be part of the equilibrium contract, separations are too frequent (private employment protection is insufficient). Mandatory severance payments are not a remedy for this inefficiency. Instead, a Pigouvian tax/subsidy scheme will correct the inefficiency by enhancing employment protection.
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