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Flexicurity in Belgium. A Proposal Based on Economic Principles

  • Bart COCKX

    (Ghent University, Sherppa, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; UCLouvain, IRES; IZA, Bonn; CESifo, Munich)

  • Bruno VAN DER LINDEN

    (FNRS and IRES, Université catholique de Louvain ; IZA, Bonn)

The current unemployment insurance and employment protection legislation were set up in an economic environment in which relationships between workers and firms were typically lon-lastingand stable. The increasing globalisation of the economy and the rapid technological and organisational changes require more flexibility of both workers and firms leading to career paths which are much more volatile both within and between firms. Current institutions must be therefore urgently reformed to reconcile this new need of more flexibility with that of security for workers. The call for ”flexicurity” is not new, but there is no unanimity on the corresponding institutional model it implies. Rather than proposing a reform on the basis of existing institutions abroad, we propose a reform that is explicitly guided by economic principles. In a nutshell, we propose to transform the bulk of the advance notice payments by a unique lay-off contribution, independently of the type of worker (blue or white-collar) and type of contract (temporary or open-]ended). A severance payment, less important than the lay-off contribution, is due to cover the psychic cost related to dismissal. In order to make the employer accountable for the costs he imposes on society, the lay-off contribution should be made proportional to the cumulative past earnings since the moment that the worker was hired in the firm. This contribution would be used not only to finance a supplement to the current unemployment benefits, but also, as to make the worker more accountable, to finance active labour market policies for the unemployed. Aside of this scheme, it makes sense to generalise the current scheme of temporary unemployment benefits for blue-collar workers to white-collar workers, but only to the extent that one introduces experience rating in the funding, so that again the employers are made accountable for the social costs that they induce by these temporary lay-offs.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) with number 2009024.

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Length: 14
Date of creation: 19 May 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2009024
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  1. Bart Cockx & Muriel Dejemeppe & Bruno Van der Linden, 2007. "Bevordert het Plan voor de begeleiding en opvolging van werklozen de overgang naar werk ?," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 4902, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  2. Blanchard, Olivier J & Tirole, Jean, 2007. "The Joint Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection. A First Pass," CEPR Discussion Papers 6127, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  4. Julia Fath & Clemens Fuest, 2005. "Experience Rating of Unemployment Insurance in the US: A Model for Europe?," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 3(2), pages 45-50, 07.
  5. Olivier Blanchard & Jean Tirole, 2004. "Redesigning the Employment Protection System," De Economist, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 1-20, 03.
  6. Cockx, Bart & Van der Linden, Bruno & Karaa, Adel, 1998. "Active Labour Market Policies and Job Tenure," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 685-708, October.
  7. Pissarides, Christopher A., 2001. "Employment protection," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 131-159, May.
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