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Do Employment Protections Reduce Productivity? Evidence from U.S. States

  • Autor, David

    ()

    (MIT)

  • Kerr, William

    ()

    (Harvard Business School)

  • Kugler, Adriana

    ()

    (Georgetown University)

Theory predicts that mandated employment protections may reduce productivity by distorting production choices. Firms facing (non-Coasean) worker dismissal costs will curtail hiring below efficient levels and retain unproductive workers, both of which should affect productivity. These theoretical predictions have rarely been tested. We use the adoption of wrongful-discharge protections by U.S. state courts over the last three decades to evaluate the link between dismissal costs and productivity. Drawing on establishment-level data from the Annual Survey of Manufacturers and the Longitudinal Business Database, our estimates suggest that wrongful-discharge protections reduce employment flows and firm entry rates. Moreover, analysis of plant-level data provides evidence of capital deepening and a decline in total factor productivity following the introduction of wrongful-discharge protections. This last result is potentially quite important, suggesting that mandated employment protections reduce productive efficiency as theory would suggest. However, our analysis also presents some puzzles including, most significantly, evidence of strong employment growth following adoption of dismissal protections. In light of these puzzles, we read our findings as suggestive but tentative.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp2571.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2571.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2007, 117 (521), F189 - F217
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2571
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  1. William R. Kerr & Ramana Nanda, 2009. "Financing Constraints and Entrepreneurship," Harvard Business School Working Papers 10-013, Harvard Business School.
  2. Adriana D. Kugler & Gilles Saint-Paul, 2004. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Worker Flows in a World with Adverse Selection?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 553-584, July.
  3. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  4. David H. Autor & John J. Donohue & Stewart J. Schwab, 2004. "The Employment Consequences of Wrongful-Discharge Laws: Large, Small, or None at All?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 440-446, May.
  5. Adriana Kugler & Juan F. Jimeno & Virginia Hernanz, 2002. "Employment consequences of restrictive permanent contracts: Evidence from Spanish labor market reforms," Economics Working Papers 651, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. David H. Autor & John J. Donohue & Stewart J. Schwab, 2006. "The Costs of Wrongful-Discharge Laws," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 211-231, May.
  7. Levine, David I, 1991. "Just-Cause Employment Policies in the Presence of Worker Adverse Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 294-305, July.
  8. Pedro Portugal & Olivier Blanchard, 2001. "What Hides Behind an Unemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 187-207, March.
  9. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Max Schanzenbach, 2003. "Exceptions to Employment at Will: Raising Firing Costs or Enforcing Life-Cycle Contracts?," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 470-504, August.
  11. William Kerr & Ramana Nanda, 2009. "Banking Deregulations, Financing Constraints, and Firm Entry Size," NBER Working Papers 15499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Miles, Thomas J, 2000. "Common Law Exceptions to Employment at Will and U.S. Labor Markets," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 74-101, April.
  13. Winfried Koeniger & Julien Prat, 2007. "Employment Protection, Product Market Regulation and Firm Selection," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 302-332, 06.
  14. Kugler, Adriana & Pica, Giovanni, 2008. "Effects of employment protection on worker and job flows: Evidence from the 1990 Italian reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 78-95, February.
  15. MacLeod, W. Bentley & Nakavachara, Voraprapa, 2006. "Legal Default Rules: The Case of Wrongful Discharge Laws," IZA Discussion Papers 1970, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  18. Aghion, Philippe & Hermalin, Benjamin, 1990. "Legal Restrictions on Private Contracts Can Enhance Efficiency," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 381-409, Fall.
  19. Etienne Wasmer, 2006. "Interpreting Europe and US labor markets differences : the specificity of human capital investments," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8904, Sciences Po.
  20. Daron Acemoglu & Amy Finkelstein, 2008. "Input and Technology Choices in Regulated Industries: Evidence from the Health Care Sector," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 837-880, October.
  21. James E. Prieger, 2004. "The Impacts of the Americans with Disabilities Act on the Entry and Exit of Retail Firms," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 386, Econometric Society.
  22. Gilles Saint Paul, 1999. "The political economy of employment protection," Economics Working Papers 355, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  23. Summers, Lawrence H, 1989. "Some Simple Economics of Mandated Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 177-83, May.
  24. Agell, Jonas, 1999. "On the Benefits from Rigid Labour Markets: Norms, Market Failures, and Social Insurance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F143-64, February.
  25. Jagadeesh Sivadasan & Amil Petrin, 2007. "Job Security Does Affect Economic Efficiency, Theory, A New Statistic, and Evidence from Chile," 2007 Meeting Papers 183, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  26. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  27. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8904 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Adriana Kugler adkugler@uh.edu & Giovanni Pica, 2005. "The Effects of Employment Protection on the Italian Labour Market," CSEF Working Papers 135, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  29. Justin Wolfers, 2005. "Measuring the Effects of Employment Protection on Job Flows: Evidence from Seasonal Cycles," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 98, Society for Computational Economics.
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