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Fixed-Term Contracts and Unemployment: An Efficiency Wage Analysis

  • Maia Güell

During the 1980s, many European countries introduced fixed-term contracts to fight high and persistent levels of unemployment. Although these contracts have been widely used, unemployment has remained about the same after fifteen years. This paper builds a theoretical model to reconcile these facts. We analyse the labour market effect of the introduction of fixed-term contracts and the firm's choice of contracts are studied. Permanent contracts are the standard way to offer incentives, but fixed-term contracts are cheaper. This generates an externality, which can make employment higher in the system with only permanent contracts. As a consequence, from a social point of view, the share of fixed-term contracts is too large. Increases in the renewal rate of fixed-term contracts into permanent contracts lead to higher employment levels. Finally, the model highlights the interactions between different rigidities in the labour market. Aggregate employment and the share of temporary contracts are affected in the same way by the firing costs and the flexibility of wages.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0461.

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Date of creation: Jul 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0461
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Michèle Belot & Jan C. van Ours, 2004. "Does the recent success of some OECD countries in lowering their unemployment rates lie in the clever design of their labor market reforms?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 621-642, October.
  2. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1991. "Labour Turnover Costs and Average Labour Demand," CEPR Discussion Papers 601, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin & Marianne Pauchet, 1999. "Fixed-term Contracts and the Dynamics of Labour Demand," Working Papers 99-02, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  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. Olympia Bover & Pilar García-Perea & Pedro Portugal, 2000. "Labour market outliers: Lessons from Portugal and Spain," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(31), pages 379-428, October.
  6. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 235-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Maia Güell & Barbara Petrongolo, 2000. "Workers Transitions from Temporary to Permanent Employment: the Spanish Case," CEP Discussion Papers dp0438, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. César Alonso-Borrego & Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & José E. Galdón-Sánchez, 2004. "Evaluating Labor Market Reforms: A General Equilibrium Approach," Economics Working Papers we042307, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  10. Cabrales, Antonio & Hopenhayn, Hugo A., 1997. "Labor-market flexibility and aggregate employment volatility," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 189-228, June.
  11. George A. Akerlof & Lawrence F. Katz, 1988. "Workers' Trust Funds and the Logic of Wage Profiles," NBER Working Papers 2548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Juan F. Jimeno & Luis Toharia, 1993. "The effects of fixed-term employment on wages: theory and evidence from Spain," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 17(3), pages 475-494, September.
  13. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  14. Bentolila, S. & Saint-Paul, G., 1991. "The Macroeconomic Impact of Flexibility Labor Contracts with an Application to Spain," DELTA Working Papers 91-22, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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