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Assessing the political viability of labor market reform : the case of employment protection

  • Gilles Saint-Paul

This paper develops a model of job creation and job destruction in a growing economy with embodied technical progress, that we use to analyze the political support for employment protection legislations such as the ones that are observed in most European countries. We analyze the possibility of Condorcet cycles due to the fact that workers about to become unemployed prefer both an increase and a reduction in firing costs over the status quo. Despite this problem, we show the existence of local, and sometimes global majority winners. In voting in favour of employment protection, incumbent employees trade off lower living standards (because employment protection maintains workers in less productive activities) against longer job duration. We show that the gains from, and consequently the political support for employment protection (as defined by maximum job tenure) are larger, the lower the rate of creative destruction and the larger the worker's bargaining power. Numerical simulations suggest a hump-shaped response of firing costs to these variables, as well as a negative impact of exogenous turnover on employment protection.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (1999)
Issue (Month): May ()
Pages: 73-87

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:1999:i:may:p:73-87:n:3
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  1. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1991. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," NBER Working Papers 3922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Olivier Blanchard & Pedro Portugal, 1998. "What Hides Behind an Umemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 6636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Samuel Bentolila & Giuseppe Bertola, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402.
  5. Daniel Cohen & Arnaud Lefranc & Gilles Saint-Paul, 1997. "French unemployment: a transatlantic perspective," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(25), pages 265-292, October.
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