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Employment Protection, Firm Selection, and Growth

  • Markus Poschke

This paper analyzes the effect of firing costs on aggregate productivity growth. For this purpose, a model of endogenous growth through selection and imitation is developed. It is consistent with recent evidence on firm dynamics and the contribution of firm entry and exit to aggregate productivity growth. In this model, growth arises endogenously via market selection among heterogeneous incumbent firms. It is sustained as entrants imitate the best incumbents. In this framework, besides inducing misallocation of labor and reducing entry, firing costs also discourage exit of low-productivity firms. This makes selection less severe and reduces growth. However, exempting exiting firms from firing costs speeds up the exit of inefficient firms and thereby growth, with little change in job turnover. These effects are stronger in sectors where firms face larger idiosyncratic shocks, as in services, fitting evidence that here, EU-US growth rate differences are largest. Introducing firing costs of one year’s wages in a benchmark economy calibrated to the US business (services) sector then leads to 0.1 (0.3) points lower growth. A brief empirical analysis of the impact of firing costs on the size of exiting firms supports the model’s conclusions.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2006/35.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2006/35
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