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Optimal severance pay in a matching model

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  • Giulio Fella

Abstract

This paper extends Mortensen and Pissarides (1994) by introducing workers' risk aversion. In doing so, it provides a framework within which to study jointly the optimal supply of job security and the allocational and welfare consequences of government intervention in excess of private arrangements. Firms offer insurance in the form of simple explicit employment contracts featuring productivity-independent wages and severance pay. Contracts can be renegotiated ex post by mutual consent. Laissez-faire contracts are never renegotiated and fully insure workers. Positive severance payments are part of an optimal contract whenever employed workers enjoy positive rents over their unemployed counterparts. The optimal severance payment size is increasing in the expected income loss associated with job mobility. Hence it is positively related to unemployment duration. We present empirical evidence that legislated job security is positively correlated with the optimal severance pay according to the model. Such evidence cannot be explained in terms of reverse causation from high state-mandated job security to high job duration. Legislated firing costs well in excess of privately optimal ones have negligible welfare effects and a small negative impact on unemployment and its duration as wages fall to minimize the distortion.

Suggested Citation

  • Giulio Fella, 2004. "Optimal severance pay in a matching model," 2004 Meeting Papers 794, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:794
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 2001. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 370-399, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Hélène Turon, 2010. "On-The-Job Search, Productivity Shocks, And The Individual Earnings Process," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 599-629, August.
    2. 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.
    3. Flórez, Luz A., 2017. "Informal sector under saving: A positive analysis of labour market policies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 13-26.
    4. Dennis Wesselbaum, 2014. "Firing tax vs severance payments – an unequal comparison," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 41(5), pages 721-736, September.
    5. Alain Delacroix & Etienne Wasmer, 2009. "Layoff Costs and Efficiency with Asymmetric Information," Working Papers hal-00972915, HAL.
    6. Luz Adriana Flórez, 2014. "Optimal Policy with Informal Sector and Endogenous Savings," Borradores de Economia 833, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    7. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Hélène Turon, 2005. "On-the-job Search, Productivity Shocks, and the Individual Earnings Process," Working Papers halshs-00590726, HAL.
    8. Michau, Jean-Baptiste, 2015. "Optimal labor market policy with search frictions and risk-averse workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 93-107.
    9. Usui, Emiko, 2007. "Severance payments in equilibrium unemployment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(3), pages 342-347, March.
    10. Saltari, Enrico & Tilli, Riccardo, 2009. "The role and significance of endogenous firing costs in a matching model with endogenous job destruction," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 799-808, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Contracts; severance pay; matching;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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