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Uncertainty and the Politics of Employment Protection

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  • Andrea Vindigni

Abstract

This paper investigates the role that idiosyncratic uncertainty plays in shaping social preferences over the degree of labor market flexibility, in a general equilibrium model of dynamic labor demand where the productivity of firms evolves over time as a Geometric Brownian motion. A key result demonstrated is that how the economy responds to shocks, i.e. unexpected changes in the drift and standard deviation of the stochastic process describing the dynamics of productivity, depends on the power of labor to extract rents and on the status quo level of firing costs. In particular, we show that when firing costs are relatively low to begin with, a transition to a rigid labor market is favored by all and only the employed workers with idiosyncratic productivity below some threshold value. A more volatile environment, and a lower rate of productivity growth, i.e. "bad times," increase the political support for more labor market rigidity only where labor appropriates of relatively large rents. Moreover, we demonstrate that when the status quo level of firing costs is relatively high, the preservation of a rigid labor market is favored by the employed with intermediate productivity, whereas all other workers favor more flexibility. The coming of better economic conditions need not favor the demise of high firing costs in rigid high-rents economies, because "good times" cut down the support for flexibility among the least productive employed workers. The model described provides some new insights on the comparative dynamics of labor market institutions in the U.S. and in Europe over the last few decades, shedding some new light both on the reasons for the original build-up of "Eurosclerosis," and for its the persistence up to the present day.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Vindigni, 2008. "Uncertainty and the Politics of Employment Protection," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 77, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wplabo:77
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    File URL: http://www.laboratoriorevelli.it/_pdf/wp77.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2002. "The Political Economy of Employment Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 672-701, June.
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    3. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "A Positive Theory Of Geographic Mobility And Social Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(1), pages 263-303, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent Anesi & Philippe De Donder, 2013. "A coalitional theory of unemployment insurance and employment protection," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(3), pages 941-977, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    employment protection; firing costs; productivity; political economy; rents; volatility; growth; institutional divergence.;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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