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Labor Market Reform and the Cost of Business Cycles

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  • Tom Krebs

    (University of Mannheim)

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of labor market reform on the welfare cost of business cycles. Motivated by the German labor market reforms of 2003-2005, the so-called Hartz reforms, the paper focuses on two labor market institutions: the unemployment insurance system determining search incentives and the system of job placement services affecting matching efficiency. The paper develops a tractable search model with idiosyncratic labor market risk and risk-averse workers, and derives a closed-form solution for the welfare cost of business cycles as a function of the various parameters of interest. An improvement in job placement services leads to a reduction in the welfare cost of business cycles, but a change in unemployment benefit generosity has in general an ambiguous effect. A quantitative analysis based on a calibrated version of the model suggests that the German labor market reforms of 2003-2005 reduced the non-cyclical unemployment rate by 3 percentage points and reduced the welfare cost of business cycles by 30 percent.

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  • Tom Krebs, 2014. "Labor Market Reform and the Cost of Business Cycles," 2014 Meeting Papers 1017, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed014:1017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruno Crépon & Esther Duflo & Marc Gurgand & Roland Rathelot & Philippe Zamora, 2013. "Do Labor Market Policies have Displacement Effects? Evidence from a Clustered Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 531-580.
    2. Philip Jung & Keith Kuester, 2008. "The (un)importance of unemployment fluctuations for welfare," Working Papers 08-31, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, revised 29 Apr 2009.
    3. John T. Addison & Mário Centeno & Pedro Portugal, 2010. "Unemployment Benefits and Reservation Wages: Key Elasticities from a Stripped-Down Job Search Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 46-59, January.
    4. Landais, Camille & Michaillat, Pascal & Saez, Emmanuel, 2010. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8132, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Addison, John T & Portugal, Pedro, 1989. "Job Displacement, Relative Wage Changes, and Duration of Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 281-302, July.
    6. Philip Jung & Moritz Kuhn, 2014. "Labour Market Institutions and Worker Flows: Comparing Germany and the US," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(581), pages 1317-1342, December.
    7. Matthias S. Hertweck & Oliver Sigrist, 2012. "The Aggregate Effects of the Hartz Reforms in Germany," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2012-38, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    8. Tom Krebs & Martin Scheffel, 2013. "Macroeconomic Evaluation of Labor Market Reform in Germany," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(4), pages 664-701, December.
    9. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris I. & Yaron, Amir, 2001. "The welfare cost of business cycles revisited: Finite lives and cyclical variation in idiosyncratic risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1311-1339.
    10. Beaudry, Paul & Pages, Carmen, 2001. "The cost of business cycles and the stabilization value of unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1545-1572, August.
    11. Winterhager, Henrik & Heinze, Anja & Spermann, Alexander, 2006. "Deregulating job placement in Europe: A microeconometric evaluation of an innovative voucher scheme in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 505-517, August.
    12. Tom Krebs & Martin Scheffel, 2013. "Macroeconomic Evaluation of Labor Market Reform in Germany," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(4), pages 664-701, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Stops, 2016. "Revisiting German labour market reform effects—a panel data analysis for occupational labour markets," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-43, December.
    2. Gadatsch, Niklas & Stähler, Nikolai & Weigert, Benjamin, 2016. "German labor market and fiscal reforms 1999–2008: Can they be blamed for intra-euro area imbalances?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 307-324.
    3. Gadatsch, Niklas & Stähler, Nikolai & Weigert, Benjamin, 2014. "German labor market and fiscal reforms 1999 to 2008: Can they be blamed for intra-Euro Area imbalances?," Working Papers 05/2014, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    4. Launov, Andrey & Wälde, Klaus, 2016. "The employment effect of reforming a public employment agency," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 140-164.
    5. Eleni Iliopulos & François Langot & Thepthida Sopraseuth, 2014. "Welfare Cost of Fluctuations: when Labor Market Search Interacts with Financial Frictions," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 14042, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)

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