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

  • Peter Gal
  • Alexander Hijzen
  • Zoltan Wolf

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.

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

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Date of creation: 25 Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:134-en
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  7. Gertler, M. & Gilchrist, S., 1992. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," Working Papers 92-08, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. 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.
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  10. Hijzen, Alexander & Mondauto, Leopoldo & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2013. "The Perverse Effects of Job-Security Provisions on Job Security in Italy: Results from a Regression Discontinuity Design," IZA Discussion Papers 7594, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. 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.
  12. 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 2509-39, October.
  13. 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, 04.
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