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Threshold effects and firm size: the case of firing costs

  • Fabiano Schivardi
  • Roberto Torrini

We study the role of employment protection legislation (EPL) in determining firm size distribution. In many countries the provisions of EPL are more stringent for firms above certain size thresholds. We construct a simple model that shows that the smooth relation between size and growth probability is interrupted in proximity of the thresholds at which EPL applies differentially. We use a comprehensive longitudinal dataset of all Italian firms, a country with an important threshold at 15 employees, to estimate the effects of EPL in terms of discouraging small firms from growing. We find that the probability of firms ' growth in the proximity of the threshold is reduced by around 2 percentage points. Using the stochastic transition matrix for firm size, we compute the long-run effects of EPL on size distribution. We find that average firm size would increase by less than 1% in steady state when removing the threshold; a quantitatively modest effect.

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19956.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19956
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  1. Patrizio Pagano & Fabiano Schivardi, 2001. "Firm Size Distribution and Growth," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 394, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Steven J. Davis & Magnus Henrekson, 1997. "Explaining National Differences in the Size and Industry Distribution of Employment," NBER Working Papers 6246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," NBER Working Papers 6670, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David H. Autor, 2003. "Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Unjust Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-42, January.
  5. 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.
  6. Ichino, Andrea & Polo, Michele & Rettore, Enrico, 2003. "Are judges biased by labor market conditions?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 913-944, October.
  7. Verick, Sher, 2004. "Threshold Effects of Dismissal Protection Legislation in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 991, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Kumar, Krishna B & Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1999. "What Determines Firm Size?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2211, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. David H. Autor & John J. Donohue & Stewart J. Schwab, 2006. "The Costs of Wrongful-Discharge Laws," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 211-231, May.
  10. repec:hhs:iuiwop:482 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Tito Boeri, 2004. "The Effects of Employment Protection: Learning from Variable Enforcement," 2004 Meeting Papers 445a, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. David H. Autor & John J. Donohue & Stewart J. Schwab, 2004. "The Employment Consequences of Wrongful-Discharge Laws: Large, Small, or None at All?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 440-446, May.
  13. Andrea Borgarello & Pietro Garibaldi & Lia Pacelli, 2003. "Employment Protection Legislation and the Size of Firms," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 23, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
  14. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2002. "Employment protection, international specialization, and innovation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 375-395, February.
  15. Eric Bartelsman & Stefano Scarpetta & Fabiano Schivardi, 2003. "Comparative Analysis of Firm Demographics and Survival: Micro-Level Evidence for the OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 348, OECD Publishing.
  16. Andrew S. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-725.
  17. 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.
  18. Fabiano Schivardi, 2000. "Rigidita nel mercato del lavoro, disoccupazione e crescita," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 59(1), pages 117-143, April.
  19. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  20. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
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