IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Role of Institutions and Firm Heterogeneity for Labour Market Adjustment: Cross-Country Firm-Level Evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Peter Gal

    (VU University Amsterdam)

  • Alexander Hijzen


  • Zoltan Wolf

    (United States Census Bureau)

This paper investigates the role of policies and institutions for aggregate labour market dynamics during the global financial crisis using firm-level data. The use of firm-level data is important if firms are heterogeneous in their labour input adjustment technologies. In this case, cross-country differences in aggregate labour market dynamics may not just stem from cross-country differences in average labour input technologies - here assumed to be largely due to differences in institutional settings -, but also from differences in the distribution of shocks across firms within countries and the composition of firms across countries. The contribution of this paper is threefold. First, the paper provides comparable estimates of the labour input adjustment behaviour of firms in response to output shocks across countries, industries and firm-size groups. Second, it makes use of decomposition methods to get a first indication of the importance of cross-country differences in adjustment technologies, the distribution of shocks across firms and the composition of firms across countries. We find that differences in the adjustment behaviour of firms account for about 40% of the cross-country variation in aggregate employment growth during the global financial crisis. We interpret this as prima facie evidence that differences in institutional settings accounted for a substantial part of the variation in aggregate employment growth during the crisis. Third, we find that employment-protection provisions with respect to regular workers reduce the output elasticity of employment, but increase the output elasticity of earnings per worker. Thus, employment protection tends to shift the burden of adjustment from the extensive to the intensive margin. However, the quantitative impact of employment protection for explaining the variation in aggregate labour dynamics during the global financial crisis is relatively small. Cet article étudie le rôle des politiques et des institutions sur la dynamique générale du marché du travail au cours de la crise financière mondiale au moyen de données au niveau des entreprises. Le recours aux données au niveau des entreprises devient nécessaire si les entreprises sont hétérogènes en termes de techniques d’ajustement du facteur travail. Dans ce cas, les différences entre pays en matière de dynamique générale du marché du travail peuvent non seulement provenir de différences des techniques de l’ajustement moyen du facteur travail entre pays - supposées ici être dues en grande partie à des différences d’environnement institutionnel -, mais également d’écarts au niveau de la répartition des chocs entre les entreprises au sein des pays et de la composition des entreprises entre pays. La contribution de cet article est triple. Tout d'abord, cet article fournit des estimations comparables du comportement d'ajustement du facteur travail des entreprises en réponse à des chocs de production entre pays, branches d’activité et taille d'entreprise. Deuxièmement, il fait appel à des méthodes de décomposition pour obtenir une première indication de l'importance des différences entre pays en matière d’ajustement, de répartition des chocs entre les entreprises et de composition des entreprises entre pays. Nous constatons que les différences dans le comportement d'ajustement des entreprises représentent environ 40% de la variation entre pays de la croissance globale de l'emploi pendant la crise financière mondiale. Nous interprétons cela comme une preuve prima facie que les différences d’environnement institutionnel représentent une part substantielle de la variation de la croissance globale de l'emploi pendant la crise. Troisièmement, nous constatons que les dispositions en matière de protection de l’emploi des travailleurs réguliers réduisent l’élasticité de l’emploi à la production, mais augmentent l'élasticité des gains par travailleurs à la production. La protection d’emploi incite les entreprises à ajuster moins à la marge extensive mais davantage à la marge intensive. Pourtant l'impact quantitatif de la protection de l'emploi est limité pour expliquer la variation globale de la dynamique du travail au cours de la crise financière mondiale.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 134.

in new window

Date of creation: 25 Oct 2012
Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:134-en
Contact details of provider: Postal:
2 rue Andre Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16

Phone: 33-(0)-1-45 24 82 00
Fax: 33-(0)-1-45 24 85 00
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Andrea Bassanini & Luca Nunziata & Danielle Venn, 2009. "Job protection legislation and productivity growth in OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 349-402, April.
  2. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1994. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles, and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 309-340.
  3. Michèle Belot & Jan C. van Ours, 2004. "Does the recent success of some OECD countries in lowering their unemployment rates lie in the clever design of their labor market reforms?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 621-642, October.
  4. Federico Cingano & Marco Leonardi & Julián Messina & Giovanni Pica, 2010. "The effects of employment protection legislation and financial market imperfections on investment: evidence from a firm-level panel of EU countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 117-163, January.
  5. Jan Babecký & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julián Messina & Tairi Rõõm, 2010. "Downward Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 884-910, December.
  6. Giuseppe Moscarini & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2012. "The Contribution of Large and Small Employers to Job Creation in Times of High and Low Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2509-2539, October.
  7. Alexander Hijzen & Leopoldo Mondauto & Stefano Scarpetta, 2013. "The Perverse Effects of Job-security Provisions on Job Security in Italy: Results from a Regression Discontinuity Design," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 151, OECD Publishing.
  8. Andrea Bassanini & Andrea Garnero & Pascal Marianna & Sébastien Martin, 2010. "Institutional Determinants of Worker Flows: A Cross-Country/Cross-Industry Approach," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 107, OECD Publishing.
  9. Sean Dougherty & Verónica C. Frisancho Robles & Kala Krishna, 2011. "Employment Protection Legislation and Plant-Level Productivity in India," NBER Working Papers 17693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Heinz, Frigyes Ferdinand & Rusinova, Desislava, 2011. "How flexible are real wages in EU countries? A panel investigation," Working Paper Series 1360, European Central Bank.
  11. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2009. "Unemployment, institutions, and reform complementarities: re-assessing the aggregate evidence for OECD countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 40-59, Spring.
  12. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A & Haltiwanger, John, 1997. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 115-137, March.
  13. J. P. Gould, 1968. "Adjustment Costs in the Theory of Investment of the Firm," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 47-55.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:134-en. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.