OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

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Effects of Flexibility-Enhancing Reforms on Employment Transitions

Do flexibility-enhancing reforms imply more employment instability? Using individual-level data from harmonised household surveys for 26 advanced countries, this paper analyses the effects of product and labour market reforms on transitions in and out of employment. Results indicate that reforms making product markets more competitive increase transitions out of employment for less qualified and low-income workers. Less qualified and low-income workers have very high job exit rates to start with, and reforms raise these rates further. On the other hand, more pro-competitive product market regulation generally increases entry rates into employment. The concentration on less qualified and low-income workers of the increase in labour market turnover associated with product market reforms suggests a case for accompanying such reforms with labour market programmes that help the most vulnerable workers transition to new jobs. Easing employment protection for regular or temporary workers has no systematic long-term effect on workers’ probabilities to move in or out of employment. Such reforms can, however, affect employment transitions through their interaction with other policies and institutions. For example, easing employment protection for workers with regular contracts raises the job-finding chances of people out of work in countries that invest a lot in active labour market programmes. Furthermore, employment protection legislation and product market regulation are complementary in that, when either employment protection or product markets are lightly regulated, reforming the other is associated with fewer job exits.


Keywords: product market regulation, employment protection legislation, labour market, structural reform, micro data
JEL: D04: Microeconomics / General / Microeconomic Policy: Formulation, Implementation, and Evaluation; J08: Labor and Demographic Economics / General / Labor Economics Policies; J63: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Labor Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
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