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Unions, Firing Costs and Unemployment

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  • Modesto, Leonor

    () (Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Lisbon)

Abstract

In this paper we conduct an analysis of the effects of firing costs in models that consider simultaneously worker heterogeneity, imperfect information on their productivity and union power. We consider an OLG model where heterogeneous workers participate in the labour market both when young and old. Each generation of workers is represented by its own union. Unions set wages unilaterally taking into account firm behavior. Firms are atomistic and choose employment treating wages parametrically. There is imperfect information about worker productivity. We find that at given wages firing costs increase youth unemployment and decrease old age unemployment. However, once we take the wage response into account, we find that firing costs increase both youth and old age unemployment. This happens because unions react strategically, and respond to higher firing costs. Indeed, when firing costs increase, firms refrain from hiring youths since, if a young worker turns out to be inadequate, it will be more costly to fire him. The union, knowing this, reduces the wage of young workers in order to attempt to increase their employment prospects. However, despite this cut youth unemployment still increases with firing costs. In the second period, on the contrary, higher firing costs give the union more power. In fact, knowing that firms will be less likely to cut their labour force when firing costs are high, the union increases the wage of old workers, and, therefore, old age unemployment increases.

Suggested Citation

  • Modesto, Leonor, 2004. "Unions, Firing Costs and Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 1157, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1157
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kirsten Daniel & W. S. Siebert, 2005. "Does employment protection reduce the demand for unskilled labour?," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 197-222.
    2. Nikolai Stähler, 2008. "Unemployment and Employment Protection in a Unionized Economy with Search Frictions," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 22(2), pages 271-289, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unions; unemployment; firing costs; worker heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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