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Labour Market Signalling and Unemployment Duration: An Empirical Analysis Using Employer-Employee Data


  • Frederiksen, Anders

    () (Aarhus University)

  • Ibsen, Rikke

    () (Aarhus School of Business)

  • Rosholm, Michael

    () (Aarhus University)

  • Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C.

    () (Copenhagen Business School)


This paper tests the signalling hypothesis using detailed flow-based employer-employee data from Denmark. The primary focus is to explore how the conditions in the pre-displacement firm affect the duration of unemployment. The empirical analysis is conducted within a competing risk framework, with destinations into reemployment and inactivity, which yields more plausible estimates of the signalling effect. It is established that the positive ability signal of being displaced due to a plant closure is significant but also that the signal of displacement from severe downsizing is important. Issues that have previously been ignored in the empirical analysis of the signalling hypothesis such as local labour market conditions, the sector of employment and the duration of the previous employment match are established to be important determinants for the time spent in unemployment. The heterogeneity of the signalling effect across various employee subgroups in the economy is also explored. These findings emphasize that individuals’ reemployment prospects are heavily influenced by the labour market history and in particular by the conditions in the firms in which they were previously employed.

Suggested Citation

  • Frederiksen, Anders & Ibsen, Rikke & Rosholm, Michael & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2006. "Labour Market Signalling and Unemployment Duration: An Empirical Analysis Using Employer-Employee Data," IZA Discussion Papers 2132, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2132

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anders Frederiksen & Elod Takats, 2005. "Layoffs as Part of an Optimal Incentive Mix: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 881, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    3. Frederiksen, Anders & Westergaard-Nielsen, Niels, 2007. "Where did they go? Modelling transitions out of jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 811-828, October.
    4. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1991. "Layoffs and Lemons," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 351-380, October.
    5. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "Job reallocation, employment fluctuations and unemployment," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 18, pages 1171-1228 Elsevier.
    6. Denise J. Doiron, 1995. "Lay-Offs as Signals: The Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 899-913, November.
    7. Neal, Derek, 1995. "Industry-Specific Human Capital: Evidence from Displaced Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(4), pages 653-677, October.
    8. Farber, Henry S, 1994. "The Analysis of Interfirm Worker Mobility," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(4), pages 554-593, October.
    9. Heckman, James J & Borjas, George J, 1980. "Does Unemployment Cause Future Unemployment? Definitions, Questions and Answers from a Continuous Time Model of Heterogeneity and State Dependence," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 247-283, August.
    10. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "New developments in models of search in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 39, pages 2567-2627 Elsevier.
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    12. Narendranathan, W & Stewart, Mark B, 1993. "How Does the Benefit Effect Vary as Unemployment Spells Lengthen?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 361-381, Oct.-Dec..
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    Cited by:

    1. J. Meekes & W.H.J. Hassink, 2016. "The role of the housing market in workers’ resilience to job displacement after firm bankruptcy," Working Papers 16-10, Utrecht School of Economics.
    2. Andrew B. Bernard & Valerie Smeets & Frederic Warzynski, 2017. "Rethinking deindustrialization," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(89), pages 5-38.
    3. Darja Boršič & Alenka Kavkler, 2009. "Modeling Unemployment Duration in Slovenia using Cox Regression Models," Transition Studies Review, Springer;Central Eastern European University Network (CEEUN), vol. 16(1), pages 145-156, May.
    4. repec:bla:ecorec:v:93:y:2017:i:301:p:238-254 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Meekes, Jordy & Hassink, Wolter, 2017. "The Role of the Housing Market in Workers' Resilience to Job Displacement after Firm Bankruptcy," IZA Discussion Papers 10894, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Appelqvist, Jukka, 2007. "Wage and Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers in Finland," Discussion Papers 422, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Becker, Sebastian & Jahn, Elke, 2015. "Labor Market Signaling and Unemployment Duration: Evidence from Germany," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112981, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item


    plant closure; unemployment duration; signalling;

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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