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Measuring the Effects of Employment Protection on Job Flows: Evidence from Seasonal Cycles


  • Justin Wolfers


Theory implies that employment protection will unambiguously decrease job flows. However, cross-country comparisons of annual rates of job reallocation seem to show that employment protection has no discernible effect on job flows. This paper presents a model that shows that employment protection does not significantly alter a firm’s response to highly persistent shocks – such as those present in annual data. By contrast, quarterly job flows will reflect highly transitory shocks – such as those associated with the seasonal cycle. It is here that employment protection should reduce job flows. Testing this hypothesis requires a consistent set of cross-country set of quarterly job flows. In the absence of such data, a novel approach is used, manipulating available household survey data. Specifically, a measure of job flows caused by the seasonal cycle is constructed. Analyzing these flows across 14 OECD countries, employment protection is shown to have significant and economically meaningful effects on job flows. Indeed, the size of the effect is sufficient to confirm Blanchard and Portugal’s hypothesis that it is employment protection that explains the different pattern of labor turnover between Portugal and the USA.

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Wolfers, 2005. "Measuring the Effects of Employment Protection on Job Flows: Evidence from Seasonal Cycles," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 98, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf5:98

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bertola, Giuseppe & Rogerson, Richard, 1997. "Institutions and labor reallocation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1147-1171, June.
    2. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, July.
    3. Olivier Blanchard & Pedro Portugal, 1998. "What Hides Behind an Umemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 6636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Barsky, Robert B & Miron, Jeffrey A, 1989. "The Seasonal Cycle and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 503-534, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kugler, Adriana & Pica, Giovanni, 2008. "Effects of employment protection on worker and job flows: Evidence from the 1990 Italian reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 78-95, February.
    2. Ant Bozkaya & William R. Kerr, 2009. "Labor Regulations and European Private Equity," Working Papers CEB 09-055.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Julián Messina & Giovanna Vallanti, 2007. "Job Flow Dynamics and Firing Restrictions: Evidence from Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 279-301, June.
    4. David H. Autor & William R. Kerr & Adriana D. Kugler, 2007. "Do Employment Protections Reduce Productivity? Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 12860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Peiró, Amado & Belaire-Franch, Jorge & Gonzalo, Maria Teresa, 2012. "Unemployment, cycle and gender," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 1167-1175.

    More about this item


    Employment protection; job flows; worker flows; seasonality; firing costs; labor market institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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