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Temporary Work in Turbulent Times: The Swedish Experience

  • Bertil Holmlund
  • Donald Storrie

Sweden has experienced a substantial increase in temporary work over the 1990s, with most of the rise occurring during a severe macroeconomic recession with mass unemployment. By the early 1990s, workers on fixed-term contracts accounted for 10 percent of the number of employees; by the end of the decade they accounted for 16 percent. The paper presents the Swedish institutional setting, documents basic stylised facts about fixed-term contracts, and discusses the causes of their increased prevalence. Our analysis reveals that open-ended and temporary employment exhibit strikingly different cyclical behaviour with temporary employment being more volatile. A recession is associated with an initial decline in temporary employment followed by a sharp rise from the trough to the end of the recession. We argue that the severe recession of the 1990s is a major factor behind the rise in temporary work in Sweden. Adverse macroeconomic conditions make firms more prone to offer fixed-term contracts and workers more willing to accept them.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 671.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_671
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  1. Maia Guell, 2000. "Fixed-term Contracts and Unemployment: an Efficiency Wage Analysis," Working Papers 812, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-83, June.
  3. Burda, Michael C & Wyplosz, Charles, 1993. "Gross Worker and Job Flows in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 868, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F189-F213, June.
  5. Olivier Blanchard & Augustin Landier, 2001. "The Perverse Effects of Partial Labor Market Reform: Fixed Duration Contracts in France," NBER Working Papers 8219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. E Wasmer, 1997. "Competition for Jobs in a Growing Economy and the Emergence of Dualism," CEP Discussion Papers dp0369, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1991. "Growth and Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 577, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1990. "The Cyclical Behovior of the Gross Flows of U.S. Workers," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(2), pages 85-156.
  9. 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.
  10. Dolado, Juan J. & Garcia-Serrano, Carlos & Jimeno, Juan F, 2001. "Drawing Lessons From the Boom of Temporary Jobs in Spain," CEPR Discussion Papers 2884, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. 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.
  12. Giuseppe BERTOLA & Tito BOERI & Sandrine CAZES, 2000. "Employment protection in industrialized countries: The case for new indicators," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 139(1), pages 57-72, 03.
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