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No Extension without Representation? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Collective Bargaining

Listed author(s):
  • Alexander Hijzen
  • Pedro S. Martins

In many countries, notably across Europe, collective bargaining coverage is enhanced by government-issued extensions that widen the reach of collective agreements beyond their signatory parties to all firms and workers in the same sector. This paper analyses the causal impact of such extensions on employment using a natural experiment in Portugal: the immediate suspension by the government that took office in 21 June 2011 of the (until then) nearly automatic extensions. The combination of this suspension and the time needed for processing the extension applications resulted in a sharp and unanticipated decline in the extension probability of agreements signed several month earlier around 1 March 2011. Our results, based on a regression discontinuity design and matched employer-employee-agreement panel data, suggest that extensions had a negative impact on employment growth. Moreover, the effects tend to be concentrated among non-affiliated firms. The lack of representativeness of employer associations is a potentially important factor behind the adverse effect of extensions. Another is the role of retro-activity in combination with the administrative delay in processing extensions. This is particularly relevant in the context of a recession.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 16/143.

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Length: 39
Date of creation: 21 Jul 2016
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:16/143
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  1. Haucap, Justus & Pauly, Uwe & Wey, Christian, 2001. "Collective wage setting when wages are generally binding An antitrust perspective," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 287-307, September.
  2. Olivier Blanchard & Florence Jaumotte & Prakash Loungani, 2014. "Labor market policies and IMF advice in advanced economies during the Great Recession," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-23, December.
  3. Pedro Martins, 2009. "Rent sharing before and after the wage bill," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(17), pages 2133-2151.
  4. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
  5. Addison, John T. & Portugal, Pedro & Vilares, Hugo, 2015. "Unions and Collective Bargaining in the Wake of the Great Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 8943, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Pedro S. Martins, 2009. "Dismissals for Cause: The Difference That Just Eight Paragraphs Can Make," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 257-279, 04.
  7. Olivier Blanchard, 2007. "Adjustment within the euro. The difficult case of Portugal," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, April.
  8. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
  9. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-209, January.
  10. Pedro S. Martins & Gary Solon & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2012. "Measuring What Employers Do about Entry Wages over the Business Cycle: A New Approach," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 36-55, October.
  11. Ana Rute Cardoso & Pedro Portugal, 2005. "Contractual Wages and the Wage Cushion under Different Bargaining Settings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 875-902, October.
  12. Christian Dustmann & Bernd Fitzenberger & Uta Sch?nberg & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2014. "From Sick Man of Europe to Economic Superstar: Germany's Resurgent Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 167-188, Winter.
  13. Guimaraes, Paulo & Martins, Fernando & Portugal, Pedro, 2017. "Upward Nominal Wage Rigidity," IZA Discussion Papers 10510, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Hartog, Joop & Leuven, Edwin & Teulings, Coen, 2002. "Wages and the bargaining regime in a corporatist setting: the Netherlands," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 317-331, June.
  15. Jeremy R. Magruder, 2012. "High Unemployment Yet Few Small Firms: The Role of Centralized Bargaining in South Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 138-166, July.
  16. Pedro S. Martins, 2014. "30,000 Minimum Wages: The Economic Effects of Collective Bargaining Extensions," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp589, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
  17. Pedro S. Martins, 2014. "30,000 minimum wages: The economic effects of collective agreement extensions," Working Papers 51, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
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