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Employment Protection, Technology Choice, and Worker Allocation

  • Bartelsman, Eric J
  • de Wind, Joris
  • Gautier, Pieter A

Using a country-industry panel dataset (EUKLEMS) we uncover a robust empirical regularity, namely that high-risk innovative sectors are relatively smaller in countries with strict employment protection legislation (EPL). To understand the mechanism, we develop a two-sector matching model where firms endogenously choose between a safe technology with known productivity and a risky technology with productivity subject to sizeable shocks. Strict EPL makes the risky technology relatively less attractive because it is more costly to shed workers upon receiving a low productivity draw. We calibrate the model using a variety of aggregate, industry and micro-level data sources. We then simulate the model to reflect both the observed differences across countries in EPL and the observed increase since the mid-1990s in the variance of firm performance associated with the adoption of information and communication technology. The simulations produce a differential response to the arrival of risky technology between low- and high-EPL countries that coincides with the findings in the data. The described mechanism can explain a considerable portion of the slowdown in productivity in the EU relative to the US since 1995.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7806.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7806
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  1. Nick Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Americans Do I.T. Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle," CEP Discussion Papers dp0788, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  10. Roberto M. Samaniego, 2006. "Employment Protection and High-Tech Aversion," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 224-241, April.
  11. Pedro Portugal & Olivier Blanchard, 2001. "What Hides Behind an Unemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 187-207, March.
  12. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Stefano Scarpetta & Olivier Boylaud, 2000. "Summary Indicators of Product Market Regulation with an Extension to Employment Protection Legislation," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 226, OECD Publishing.
  13. Haskel, Jonathan & Kersley, Barbara & Martin, Christopher, 1997. "Labour Market Flexibility and Employment Adjustment: Micro Evidence from UK Establishments," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 362-79, July.
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