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Protecting Against Labour Market Risk: Employment Protection or Unemployment Benefits?

  • Boeri, Tito
  • Conde-Ruiz, José Ignacio
  • Galasso, Vincenzo

We document the presence of a trade-off between unemployment benefits (UB) and employment protection legislation (EPL) in the provision of insurance against labour market risk. The mix of quantity restrictions and price regulations adopted by the various countries would seem to correspond to a stable politico-economic equilibrium. We develop a model in which voters are required to cast a ballot over the strictness of EPL and over the generosity of UB. Agents are heterogeneous along two dimensions: employment status — there are insiders and outsiders — and skills — low and high skills. We show that if there exists a majority of low-skill insiders, the voting game has a politico-economic equilibrium with low UB and high EPL; otherwise, the equilibrium features high UB and low EPL. Another testable implication of the model is that a larger share of elderly workers increases the demand for EPL. Panel data on institutions and on the age and educational structures of the populations are broadly in line with our results. We also find that those favouring EPL over UB in a public opinion poll carried in 2001 in Italy have precisely the same characteristics predicted by our model.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3990.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3990
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  1. Garibaldi, Pietro, 1998. "Job flow dynamics and firing restrictions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 245-275, February.
  2. Conde-Ruiz, J.I. & Galasso, V., 2000. "Positive Arithmetic of the Welfare State," Economics Working Papers eco2000/23, European University Institute.
  3. Gilles Saint Paul, 1998. "Assesing the political viability of labour market reform: The case of employment protection," Economics Working Papers 346, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1999. "The Political Economy of Employment Protection," CEPR Discussion Papers 2109, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Krueger, Alan B. & Meyer, Bruce D., 2002. "Labor supply effects of social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 33, pages 2327-2392 Elsevier.
  9. repec:fda:fdaddt:2003-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. 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.
  11. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
  12. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Violante, Giovanni L., 2001. "Deunionization, technical change and inequality," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 229-264, December.
  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. Boeri, Tito, 1999. "Enforcement of employment security regulations, on-the-job search and unemployment duration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 65-89, January.
  15. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-65, April.
  16. Conde-Ruiz, J.I. & Galasso, V., 2000. "Early Retirement," Economics Working Papers eco2000/24, European University Institute.
  17. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
  18. Pissarides, Christopher A., 2001. "Employment protection," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 131-159, May.
  19. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
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