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Protecting Against Labour Market Risk: Employment Protection or Unemployment Benefits?

  • Boeri, Tito

    ()

    (Bocconi University)

  • Conde-Ruiz, J. Ignacio

    ()

    (FEDEA, Madrid)

  • Galasso, Vincenzo

    ()

    (Bocconi University)

We document the presence of a trade-off between unemployment benefits (UB) and employment protection legislation (EPL) in the provision of insurance against labour market risk. The mix of quantity restrictions and price regulations adopted by the various countries would seem to correspond to a stable politico-economic equilibrium. We develop a model in which voters are required to cast a ballot over the strictness of EPL and over the generosity of UB. Agents are heterogeneous along two dimensions: employment status — there are insiders and outsiders — and skills — low and high skills. We show that if there exists a majority of low-skill insiders, the voting game has a politico-economic equilibrium with low UB and high EPL; otherwise, the equilibrium features high UB and low EPL. Another testable implication of the model is that a larger share of elderly workers increases the demand for EPL. Panel data on institutions and on the age and educational structures of the populations are broadly in line with our results. We also find that those favouring EPL over UB in a public opinion poll carried in 2001 in Italy have precisely the same characteristics predicted by our model.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 834.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp834
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  1. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
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  13. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-65, April.
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  17. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
  18. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Violante, Giovanni L, 2001. "Deunionization, Technical Change and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2764, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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