DP4711 Cross-Skill Redistribution and the Trade-Off Between Unemployment Benefits and Employment Protection

Author(s): Tito Boeri, José Ignacio Conde-Ruiz, Vincenzo Galasso
Publication Date: October 2004
Keyword(s): employment protection, political equilibria, unemployment insurance
JEL(s): D72, J65, J68
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4711

We document the presence of a trade-off between unemployment benefits (UB) and employment protection legislation (EPL) in the provision of insurance against labour market risk. Different countries’ locations along this trade-off represent stable, hard to modify, politico-economic equilibria. We develop a model in which voters are required to cast a ballot over the strictness of EPL, the generosity of UBs and the amount of redistribution involved by the financing of unemployment insurance. Agents are heterogeneous along two dimensions: employment status – insiders and outsiders – and skills – low and high. Unlike previous work on EPL, we model employment protection as an institution redistributing among insiders, notably in favour of the low-skill workers. A key implication of the model is that configurations with strict EPL and low UB should emerge in presence of compressed wage structures. Micro data on wage premia on educational attainments and on the strictness of EPL are in line with our results. We also find empirical support to the substantive assumptions of the model on the effects of EPL.