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Politique de l'emploi et réduction de la durée du travail

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  • Jean-Paul Fitoussi
  • Daniel Szpiro

Abstract

[eng] That the reduction in the length of the working-week seems to be the preferred mean of combatting unemployment is symptomatic of an evolution which has lead European governments to an acceptance of a permanently lower level of economic activity, and to formulate policies most aptly described at an international level as « competition by deflation ». The logic of work sharing is the adaptation of the supply of labour to the existing amount of employement. It is therefore a redistribution of a given amount of unemployment. If it is to be a genuine social advance, the reduction in the working week should be accompanied by a change in the distribution of income between all social groups. But when seen as an employment policy, it clearly implies only a redistribution of the existing wage bill between the employed and unemployed. In this article, we investigate the conditions necessary for the success of such a policy and its probable effects on employment. The results of the simulations of econometric models which have been performed for a number of European countries — similar for the most part — are then analysed. But despite these efforts of quantification, a great uncertainty remains as to the effects of such a policy on both production processes and the behaviour of agents. Moreover a further theoretical and empirical analysis of these effects leads us to doubt that the reduction in the length of the working week provides any answer to the problem of unemployment. [fre] Que la réduction de la durée du travail apparaisse comme un moyen privilégié de lutte contre le chômage est symptomatique d'une évolution qui a conduit les gouvernements européens à s'accommoder de la récession actuelle, à inscrire leur politique dans ce qui est devenu au niveau international une « concurrence par la dépression ». La logique du partage du travail est en effet celle de l'adaptation de l'offre de travail à l'emploi, celle d'une autre répartition d'un volume donné de chômage. Si elle est conquête sociale, la réduction de la durée du travail devrait s'accompagner d'une modification de la répartition des revenus entre toutes les catégories sociales. Considérée comme une politique de l'emploi, elle implique une redistribution de la seule masse salariale entre personnes employées et chômeurs. Dans cet article, on s'interroge sur les conditions de réussite d'une telle politique, sur les effets probables qu'une réduction de la durée du travail aura sur l'emploi. Les résultats des simulations, convergents pour la plupart, qui ont été effectuées au moyen de modèles économétriques dans plusieurs pays européens, sont alors analysés. Mais au-delà des efforts de quantification, l'incertitude demeure quant aux effets d'une telle mesure sur les processus de production et les comportements des agents. Une analyse à la fois théorique et empirique de ces effets est présentée et elle conduit à douter de ce que la réduction de la durée du travail constitue réellement une réponse au problème de l'emploi.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Paul Fitoussi & Daniel Szpiro, 1983. "Politique de l'emploi et réduction de la durée du travail," Revue de l'OFCE, Programme National Persée, vol. 4(1), pages 99-116.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:rvofce:ofce_0751-6614_1983_num_4_1_947
    Note: DOI:10.3406/ofce.1983.947
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