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Temporary Agency Work in Portugal, 1995–2000

  • Böheim, René


    (University of Linz)

  • Cardoso, Ana Rute


    (IAE Barcelona (CSIC))

There is widespread belief that workers in temporary agency work (TAW) are subject to poorer working conditions, in particular pay, than comparable workers in the rest of the economy. The first aim of this analysis is to quantify the wage penalty, if any, for workers in TAW. Secondly, we analyze the wage profile of workers before and after spells of TAW. Linked employer-employee data for Portugal enable us to account for observable as well as unobservable worker quality. Our results show that workers in TAW earn lower wages than their peers and that this difference is mostly due to the workers' characteristics. We estimate that workers in TAW earn on average 9% less than comparable workers in the rest of the economy if we control for the workers' observable attributes only; this difference is reduced to 1% when we control for unobservable characteristics as well. However, interesting differences emerge across groups. Younger workers, both men and women, earn higher wages in TAW than their peers in other firms, as opposed to prime-age and older workers. Moreover, for young workers TAW is not associated with a stigma effect that slows wage progression after working for TAW, contrary to prime-age and older workers, in particular males. The wage trends are also different before entering TAW. Prime-age and older workers see their wages deteriorate relative to their peers before entering TAW, suggesting that adverse labor market conditions may motivate them to search for a TAW job. We do not detect any pre-TAW wage trend for young workers.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3144.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Temporary help services employment in Portugal, 1995-2000' in: David H. Autor (ed.), Studies of Labor Market Intermediation. Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press and NBER, 2009, 520-560
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3144
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  1. Antoni, Manfred & Jahn, Elke J., 2006. "Do changes in regulation affect employment duration in temporary work agencies?," IAB Discussion Paper 200618, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  2. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F189-F213, June.
  3. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Malo, Miguel & Muñoz-Bullón, Fernando, 2006. "The Role of Temporary Help Agencies in Facilitating Temp-to-Perm Transitions," IZA Discussion Papers 2177, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Chris Forde & Gary Slater, 2004. "Agency working in Britain: character, consequences and regulation," Working Papers 2004/4, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham Business School, Economics Division.
  5. Michael Kvasnicka, 2005. "Does Temporary Agency Work Provide a Stepping Stone to Regular Employment?," Labor and Demography 0510005, EconWPA.
  6. Peter R. Mueser & Carolyn J. Heinrich & Kenneth Troske, 2003. "Welfare to Temporary Work: Implications for Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 0308, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1409-1448 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Susan N. Houseman, . "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh2001, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  9. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The Growth of Temporary Services Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
  10. David Autor & Susan Houseman, 2009. "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from 'Work First'," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 05-124, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  11. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1998. "Wage differentials for temporary services work: evidence from administrative data," Working Paper Series WP-98-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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