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The value of flexible contracts; evidence from an italian panel of industrial firms

Author

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  • cipollone piero

    () (Bank of Italy , research department)

  • Anita Guelfi

    () (confindustria, research department)

Abstract

Since the mid-1980s fixed-term contracts have been used in many European countries to reduce firing costs. As this strategy may have led to segmented labour markets, recent policy interventions have enhanced permanent jobs by cutting their labour costs. Efficient design of these policies requires knowledge of the costs associated with employment protection legislation. In this paper we evaluate these costs by measuring firms� willingness to trade fixed-term for open-ended contracts in exchange for a cut in the labour cost of permanent jobs. Our results are based on a panel of Italian firms in the engineering sector whose labour costs were reduced by a tax credit granted to firms hiring workers on open-ended rather than fixed-term contracts. The trade-off is identified by comparing how the composition of recruitment by type of contract changed for firms that received the tax credit and those that did not. Potential distortions due to self-selection into the programme, firm-specific timevarying shocks or mechanical correlation induced by the selection rule into the programme, are accounted for by estimating the spurious effect of the tax credit in the years when it was not in force. Estimation is carried out in both a parametric and non-parametric setting that uses p-score to control for different probabilities of receiving the tax credit. We found that firms value the possibility of hiring one per cent new workers on a fixed-term contract as much as a cut in the labour cost of an open-ended worker in the range of 1.3-2.8 per cent. This result helps to explain recent employment growth in Italy, where the share of fixed-term contracts among new hires grew from 34 to 42 per cent between 1995 and 2003. Using our most conservative results, we evaluate that the labour cost reduction associated with this expansion amounted to anything between 10.4 and 22.4 per cent. Given the elasticity of employment to wages, the advent of flexibility in the Italian labour market can account for a large share, between 37 and 80 per cent, of employment growth in the private sector.

Suggested Citation

  • cipollone piero & Anita Guelfi, 2006. "The value of flexible contracts; evidence from an italian panel of industrial firms," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 583, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_583_06
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Adriana Kugler & Juan F. Jimeno & Virginia Hernanz, "undated". "Employment Consequences of Restrictive Permanent Contracts: Evidence from Spanish Labor Market Reforms," Working Papers 2003-14, FEDEA.
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    7. Abowd, John M. & Kramarz, Francis, 2003. "The costs of hiring and separations," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 499-530, October.
    8. Victor Aguirregabiria & Cesar Alonso-Borrego, 2014. "Labor Contracts And Flexibility: Evidence From A Labor Market Reform In Spain," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(2), pages 930-957, April.
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    10. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric & Pauchet, Marianne, 2001. "Fixed-term contracts and the dynamics of labour demand," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 533-552, March.
    11. Andrea Brandolini & Piero Casadio & Piero Cipollone & Marco Magnani & Alfonso Rosolia, 2007. "Employment Growth in Italy in the 1990s: Institutional Arrangements and Market Forces," AIEL Series in Labour Economics, in: Nicola Acocella & Riccardo Leoni (ed.), Social Pacts, Employment and Growth. A Reappraisal of Ezio Tarantelli’s Thought, edition 1, chapter 4, pages 31-68, AIEL - Associazione Italiana Economisti del Lavoro.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Renzo Orsi & Francesco Turino, 2014. "The last fifteen years of stagnation in Italy: a business cycle accounting perspective," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 469-494, September.
    2. Andrea Brandolini & Piero Casadio & Piero Cipollone & Marco Magnani & Alfonso Rosolia, 2007. "Employment Growth in Italy in the 1990s: Institutional Arrangements and Market Forces," AIEL Series in Labour Economics, in: Nicola Acocella & Riccardo Leoni (ed.), Social Pacts, Employment and Growth. A Reappraisal of Ezio Tarantelli’s Thought, edition 1, chapter 4, pages 31-68, AIEL - Associazione Italiana Economisti del Lavoro.
    3. Maurizio Zenezini, 2013. "Riforme e crescita in Italia: una nota," ECONOMIA E SOCIET REGIONALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(2), pages 97-113.
    4. Berloffa, Gabriella & Modena, Francesca, 2012. "Economic well-being in Italy: The role of income insecurity and intergenerational inequality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 751-765.
    5. A. Arrighetti & F. Landini, 2018. "Eterogeneità delle imprese e stagnazione del capitalismo italiano," Economics Department Working Papers 2018-EP01, Department of Economics, Parma University (Italy).
    6. Ferrari, Filippo, 2011. "Lo sviluppo delle competenze nei contesti precari
      [Skills development in precariousness: the dark side of flexibility?]
      ," MPRA Paper 33284, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax credit; open-end contracts; fixed-term contracts; firing costs;

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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