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The Impact of Firing Costs on Turnover and Unemployment: Evidence from the Colombian Labour Market Reform

  • Adriana Kugler

Reductions in firing costs are often advocated as a way of increasing the dynamism of labour markets in both developed and less developed countries. Evidence from Europe and the U.S. on the impact of firing costs has, however, been mixed. Moreover, legislative changes both in Europe and the U.S. have been limited. This paper, instead, examines the impact of the Colombian Labour Market Reform of 1990, which substantially reduced dismissal costs. I estimate the incidence of a reduction in firing costs on worker turnover by exploiting the temporal change in the Colombian labour legislation as well as the variability in coverage between formal and informal sector workers. Using a grouping estimator to control for common aggregate shocks and selection, I find that the exit hazard rates into and out of unemployment increased after the reform by over 1\% for formal workers (covered by the legislation) relative to informal workers (uncovered). The increase of the hazards implies a net decrease in unemployment of a third of a percentage point, which accounts for about one quarter of the fall in unemployment during the period of study. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

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Article provided by Springer in its journal International Tax and Public Finance.

Volume (Year): 6 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 389-410

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Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:6:y:1999:i:3:p:389-410
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  1. Anderson, Patricia M, 1993. "Linear Adjustment Costs and Seasonal Labor Demand: Evidence from Retail Trade Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 1015-42, November.
  2. Giuseppe Bertola, 1991. "Labor Turnover Costs and Average Labor Demand," NBER Working Papers 3866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nada Eissa & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1995. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 5158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  6. Bentolila, Samuel & Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1992. "The macroeconomic impact of flexible labor contracts, with an application to Spain," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1013-1047, June.
  7. Michael K. Gavin, 1986. "Labor market rigidities and unemployment: the case of severance costs," International Finance Discussion Papers 284, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2005. "The consequences of labor market flexibility: Panel evidence based on survey data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(5), pages 1225-1259, July.
  9. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1998. "Estimating Labor Supply Responses Using Tax Reforms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 827-862, July.
  10. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Job security, employment and wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 851-879, June.
  11. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
  12. 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.
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