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Work-Sharing: an Efficiency-Wage Analysis

  • Thomas Moutos
  • William Scarth

This paper evaluates two approaches to work-sharing by examining both within the same macro model. The standard approach involves imposing a quantity constraint on labour market participants (a maximum number of standard hours for each worker). This approach is compared to a revenue-neutral employment subsidy financed by a tax on overtime hours ? an initiative intended to harness market incentives. The paper shows that the second approach brings much preferred results ? it involves lower unemployment, higher investment, and no reduction in the wage earnings of those already employed. The analysis suggests that policymakers should not reject work-sharing just because they are (justifiably) skeptical of mandated reductions in hours. The model involves the following features: (i) it is optimization-based (so there is a well-defined reason for labour market failure); (ii) it facilitates the investigation of trade-offs (so it can be determined whether improvements in unemployment must be accompanied by reductions in productivity, investment, average hours or wage rates); (iii) it involves a small open economy (so concerns about the limits to independent policy in this setting are respected); and (iv) it can be readily calibrated (so empirically relevant quantitative results are derived).

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 386.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_386
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  1. Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "Relative Wages, Efficiency Wages, and Keynesian Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 2590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Has Work-Sharing Worked In Germany?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 117-148, February.
  3. Marimon, Ramon & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2000. "Employment and distributional effects of restricting working time," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1291-1326, June.
  4. Hoel, Michael, 1986. "Employment and Allocation Effects of Reducing the Length of the Workday," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(29), pages 75-85, February.
  5. Calmfors, Lars, 1985. "Work sharing, employment and wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 293-309.
  6. Bauer, Thomas & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1999. "Overtime Work and Overtime Compensation in Germany," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 46(4), pages 419-36, September.
  7. Calmfors, Lars & Hoel, Michael, 1988. " Work Sharing and Overtime," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 90(1), pages 45-62.
  8. Calmfors, Lars & Hoel, Michael, 1989. "Work Sharing, Employment and Shiftwork," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 758-73, October.
  9. A. B. Atkinson, 1999. "The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011719, June.
  10. Booth, Alison & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 1987. "The Employment Effects of a Shorter Working Week," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(214), pages 237-48, May.
  11. Hoel, Michael & Vale, Bent, 1986. "Effects on unemployment of reduced working time in an economy where firms set wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1097-1104, October.
  12. Clemens Fuest & Bernd Huber, 1998. "Why Do Countries Subsidize Investment and Not Employment?," NBER Working Papers 6685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  14. Brunello, Giorgio, 1989. "The Employment Effects of Shorter Working Hours: An Application to Japanese Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(224), pages 473-86, November.
  15. Shulamit B. Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1995. "The Causes of Hours Constraints: Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 914-28, November.
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