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Optimal Severance Pay in a Matching Model

This paper uses an equilibrium matching framework to study jointly the optimal private provision of severance pay and the allocational and welfare consequences of government intervention in excess of private arrangements. Firms insure risk-averse workers by means of simple explicit employment contracts. Contracts can be renegotiated ex post by mutual consent. It is shown that the privately optimal severance payment is bounded below by the fall in lifetime wealth associated with job loss. Simulations show that, despite contract incompleteness, legislated dismissal costs largely in excess of such private optimum are effectively undone by renegotiation and have only a small allocational effect. Welfare falls. Yet, for deviations from laissez faire in line with those observed for most OECD countries, the welfare loss is small.

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File URL: http://www.econ.qmul.ac.uk/papers/doc/wp598.pdf
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Paper provided by Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 598.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:qmw:qmwecw:wp598
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  1. Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1991. "Investments, Hold Up And The Reform Of Market Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9114, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  2. Alfonso Rosolia & Gilles Saint Paul, 1998. "The effect of unemployment spells on subsequent wages in Spain," Economics Working Papers 295, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Melvyn Coles & Adrian Masters, 2006. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in a Matching Equilibrium," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 109-138, January.
  4. Pissarides, Christopher A., 2004. "Consumption and Savings with Unemployment Risk: Implications for Optimal Employment Contracts," IZA Discussion Papers 1183, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Henry Farber, 2003. "Job Loss in the United States, 1981-2001," NBER Working Papers 9707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rudanko, Leena, 2009. "Labor market dynamics under long-term wage contracting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 170-183, March.
  7. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Working Paper Series 1998:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  8. Cahuc, Pierre & Lehmann, Etienne, 2000. "Should unemployment benefits decrease with the unemployment spell?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 135-153, July.
  9. Pedro Portugal & Olivier Blanchard, 2001. "What Hides Behind an Unemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 187-207, March.
  10. Daniel Cohen & Arnaud Lefranc & Gilles Saint-Paul, 1997. "French unemployment: a transatlantic perspective," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(25), pages 265-292, October.
  11. Fella, Giulio, 2005. "Termination restrictions and investment in general training," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1479-1499, August.
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