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Protecting Against Labour Market Risk: Employment Protection or Unemployment Benefits?

  • Tito Boeri
  • J.Ignacio Conde-Ruiz
  • Vincenzo Galasso

We document the presence of a trade-off between unemployment benefits (UB) and employment protection legislation (EPL) in the provision of insurance against labour market risk. The mix of quantity restrictions and price regulations adopted by the various countries would seem to correspond to a stable politico-economic equilibrium. We develop a model in which voters are required to cast a ballot over the strictness of EPL and over the generosity of UB. Agents are heterogeneous along two dimensions: employment status — there are insiders and outsiders — and skills — low and high skills. We show that if there exists a majority of low-skill insiders, the voting game has a politico-economic equilibrium with low UB and high EPL; otherwise, the equilibrium features high UB and low EPL. Another testable implication of the model is that a larger share of elderly workers increases the demand for EPL. Panel data on institutions and on the age and educational structures of the populations are broadly in line with our results. We also find that those favouring EPL over UB in a public opinion poll carried in 2001 in Italy have precisely the same characteristics predicted by our model.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 239.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:239
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  1. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  2. Garibaldi, Pietro, 1998. "Job flow dynamics and firing restrictions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 245-275, February.
  3. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2002. "The Political Economy of Employment Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 672-701, June.
  4. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, 2003. "Early Retirement," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 12-36, January.
  5. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  6. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Violante, Giovanni L., 2001. "Deunionization, technical change and inequality," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 229-264, December.
  8. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, . "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Working Papers 121, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
  10. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2000. "The Political Economy of Labour Market Institutions," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293323, March.
  11. Boeri, Tito, 1998. "Enforcement of Employment Security Regulations, On-The-Job Search and Unemployment Duration," CEPR Discussion Papers 1850, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Andrea Ichino & Michele Polo & Enrico Rettore, . "Are Judges Biased by Labor Market Conditions?," Working Papers 192, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Alan B. Krueger & Bruce D. Meyer, 2002. "Labor Supply Effects of Social Insurance," NBER Working Papers 9014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Conde-Ruiz, José Ignacio & Galasso, Vincenzo, 1999. "Positive Arithmetic of the Welfare State," CEPR Discussion Papers 2202, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1999. "Assessing the Political Viability of Labour Market Reform: The Case of Employment Protection," CEPR Discussion Papers 2136, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-65, April.
  17. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 99-29, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Pissarides, Christopher A., 2001. "Employment protection," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 131-159, May.
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