IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Fixed-term contracts in East and West Germany: Low wages, poor prospects?


  • McGinnity, Frances
  • Mertens, Antje


Amid lively debate on the consequences of temporary employment, the paper examines the wages and transitions of temporary employees in Germany using socio-economic panel data from the late 1990s. Compared to simple OLS estimates, using a fixed effects model decreases wage differentials between permanent and temporary workers. A two-step instrumental variables estimator leads to insignificant estimates, suggesting that the contract type is an endogenous variable. Moreover, about 1/5 of male temporary employees experience significantly higher 2 and 10 year wage growth than workers on permanent contracts. Using multinomial logistic regression models we find that many temporary workers move into permanent jobs, often with the same employer. For some temporary employment leads to unemployment, particularly those with low human capital. Positioning ourselves between arguments on the positive and negative consequences of temporary employment, we develop the idea of a two-tier labour market for temporary employment in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • McGinnity, Frances & Mertens, Antje, 2002. "Fixed-term contracts in East and West Germany: Low wages, poor prospects?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2002,72, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:200272

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 189-213, June.
    2. Boockmann, Bernhard & Hagen, Tobias, 2001. "The use of flexible working contracts in West Germany: evidence from an establishment panel," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-33, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Henry S. Farber, 1999. "Alternative and Part-Time Employment Arrangements as a Response to Job Loss," NBER Working Papers 7002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bertil Holmlund & Donald Storrie, 2002. "Temporary Work In Turbulent Times: The Swedish Experience," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 245-269, June.
    5. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 1995. "Labor Adjustment under Different Institutional Structures: A Case Study of Germany and the United States," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: Friedrich Buttler & Wolfgang Franz & Ronald Schettkat & David Soskice (ed.), Institutional Frameworks and Labor Market Performance: Comparative Views on the U.S. and German Economies, pages 285-315 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    6. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard A. Pfann, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1264-1292, September.
    7. Juan J Dolado & Carlos Garcia--Serrano & Juan F. Jimeno, 2002. "Drawing Lessons From The Boom Of Temporary Jobs In Spain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(721), pages 270-295, June.
    8. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric & Pauchet, Marianne, 2001. "Fixed-term contracts and the dynamics of labour demand," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 533-552, March.
    9. Hagen, Tobias, 2001. "Do temporary workers receive risk-premiums? Assessing the wage effects of fixed-term contracts in West-Germany by matching estimators compared with parametric apporaches," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-71, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    10. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, 2000. "Work Transitions into and Out of Involuntary Temporary Employment in a Segmented Market: Evidence from Spain," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 309-325, January.
    11. O Blanchard & A Landier, 2002. "The Perverse Effects of Partial Labour Market Reform: fixed--Term Contracts in France," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 214-244, June.
    12. María A.Davia & Virginia Hernanz, 2004. "Temporary employment and segmentation in the Spanish labour market: An empirical analysis through the study of wage differentials," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 291-318, December.
    13. Juan F. Jimeno & Luis Toharia, 1993. "The effects of fixed-term employment on wages: theory and evidence from Spain," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 17(3), pages 475-494, September.
    14. Boeri, Tito, 1999. "Enforcement of employment security regulations, on-the-job search and unemployment duration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 65-89, January.
    15. Bentolila, Samuel & Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1992. "The macroeconomic impact of flexible labor contracts, with an application to Spain," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1013-1047, June.
    16. Hunt, Jennifer, 2000. "Firing Costs, Employment Fluctuations and Average Employment: An Examination of Germany," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(266), pages 177-202, May.
    17. Farber, Henry S, 1999. "Alternative and Part-Time Employment Arrangements as a Response to Job Loss," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 142-169, October.
    18. Tomas Korpi & Henrik Levin, 2001. "Precarious Footing: Temporary Employment as a Stepping Stone out of Unemployment in Sweden," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 15(1), pages 127-148, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Boockmann, Bernhard & Hagen, Tobias, 2008. "Fixed-term contracts as sorting mechanisms: Evidence from job durations in West Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 984-1005, October.
    2. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:38:i:2/3:p:305-324 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Boockmann, Bernhard & Hagen, Tobias, 2005. "Befristete und andere "atypische" Beschäftigungsverhältnisse: Wird der Arbeitsmarkt funktionsfähiger? (Fixed-term and other "atypical" employment relationship : is the labour marke," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 38(2/3), pages 305-324.

    More about this item


    mobility; unemployment; Fixed-term contracts; dynamic wages;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:200272. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.