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The Perverse Effects of Partial Labor Market Reform: Fixed Duration Contracts in France

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  • Olivier Blanchard
  • Augustin Landier

Abstract

Rather than decrease firing costs across the board, a number of European countries have allowed firms to hire workers on fixed-duration contracts. At the end of a given duration, these contracts can be terminated at little or no cost. If workers are kept on however, the contracts become subject to regular firing costs. We argue in this paper that the effects of such a partial reform of employment protection may be perverse. The main effect may be high turnover in fixed-duration jobs, leading in turn to higher, not lower, unemployment. And, even if unemployment comes down, workers may actually be worse off, going through many spells of unemployment and fixed duration jobs, before obtaining a regular job. Looking at French data for young workers since the early 1980s, we conclude that the reforms have substantially increased turnover, without a substantial reduction in unemployment duration. If anything, their effect on welfare of young workers appears to have been negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Blanchard & Augustin Landier, 2001. "The Perverse Effects of Partial Labor Market Reform: Fixed Duration Contracts in France," NBER Working Papers 8219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8219
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cahuc, Pierre & Postel-Vinay, Fabien, 2002. "Temporary jobs, employment protection and labor market performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 63-91, February.
    2. Maia Güell & Barbara Petrongolo, 2000. "Workers Transitions from Temporary to Permanent Employment: the Spanish Case," CEP Discussion Papers dp0438, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Thierry Magnac & Michael Visser, 1999. "Transition Models With Measurement Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 466-474, August.
    4. Fougere, Denis & Kramarz, Francis & Magnac, Thierry, 2000. "Youth employment policies in France," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 928-942, May.
    5. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1996. "The "Fundamental Transformation" in Macroeconomics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 181-186, May.
    6. Edward P. Lazear, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726.
    7. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    8. P Adam & P Canziani, 1998. "Partial De-Regulation: Fixed-Term Contracts in Italy and Spain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0386, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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