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On the Political Economy of Labour Market Flexibility

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  • Saint-Paul, Gilles

Abstract

This paper starts from the observation that despite their very high levels of unemployment, major European countries have devoted few resources to reducing it. This suggests that there is little political concern about high unemployment. I develop a model where the government tries to increase employment by increasing labour market flexibility, and where any reform must pass majority voting. It is shown that the employed will block a complete reform of the labour market. A two-tier system will eventually generate consensus over the reform, however. In the long run, when the two-tier system prevails, political support gradually builds up in favour of further increases in flexibility. This creates a time-consistency problem, however, putting bounds on the reform that can be implemented ex ante . The model may generate complementarities between the economic system and the political system and lead to multiple equilibria. I also review various pieces of evidence, which lend support to the hypotheses brought up in the paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1993. "On the Political Economy of Labour Market Flexibility," CEPR Discussion Papers 803, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:803
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Job security, employment and wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 851-879, June.
    2. Bean, Charles R, 1994. "European Unemployment: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 573-619, June.
    3. M. Dewatripont & G. Roland, 1992. "Economic Reform and Dynamic Political Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 703-730.
    4. Samuel Bentolila & Giuseppe Bertola, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402.
    5. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1991. "Dynamic labor demand with dual labor markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 219-222, June.
    6. James B. Rebitzer & Lowell J. Taylor, 1991. "A Model of Dual Labor Markets When Product Demand Is Uncertain," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1373-1383.
    7. Alberto Alesina, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-678.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Determined Duration Contracts; Labour Market Flexibility; Political Economy; Unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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