The flexibility penalty in a long-term perspective
In this paper we study the effect of flexibility on both wages and the likelihood of work stabilisation, by focusing on flexibility when entering the labour market and on periods of career interruption. Our main goal is to evaluate how having entered the labour market with fixed-term contracts or having experienced periods of interruption of work can affect the likelihood of being given a permanent contract and the level of wages received in subsequent jobs. Unlike other works in the existing literature, this study deals with female and male workers separately. The analysis is carried out using a dataset put together by the Istituto per lo Sviluppo della Formazione Professionale dei Lavoratori – ISFOL (Institute for the Development of the Professional Training of Workers) based on a sample of Italian workers. The dataset is representative of the Italian population and contains detailed information on work experience previous to workers’ present occupation with details on types of contracts and causes of career interruptions. In the first part of the paper, we examine density functions of monthly and hourly wages relative to contractual characteristics of first jobs and the number of job changes and work interruptions. In the second part of the paper, we estimate separate earnings functions for the sample of men and women with full-time permanent contracts. We correct for selection in full-time work by estimating a first-stage equation of the probability to have a permanent job and including the Mill’s ratio in the second-stage wage function. Estimates show that flexibility affects men and women differently, both in terms of levels of wages, and the likelihood of accessing permanent jobs. Some differences also emerge with regard to the causes of career interruptions.
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