This time may not be that different: labor markets, the Great Recession and the (not so great) recovery
The last three U.S. recessions have been followed by ?jobless recoveries.? The lack of robust job growth once GDP starts to pick up has a lot people asking if labor markets have changed in some fundamental way. I look at employment and unemployment growth in every recession since the 1950s and find that the current levels of these indicators can be explained by the severity of the Great Recession and the slow growth of GDP in the recovery.
Indexation and contract length in unionized U.S. manufacturing
When should labor contracts be nominal?
This paper proposes a theory of when labor contract should be nominal or, instead, indexed. We find that, contracts should be indexed if prices are difficult to forecast and nominal otherwise. We use a principal-agent model developed by Jovanovic and Ueda (1997), with moral hazard, renegotiation, and where a signal (the nominal value of the sales of the agent) is observed before renegotiation takes place. We show that their result, that the optimal contract is nominal when agents must choose pure strategies, is robust to the case where agents can choose mixed strategies in the sense that, for ...
Early contract renegotiation: An analysis of U.S. labor contracts from 1970 to 1995
This paper examines the ex post flexibility of U.S. labor contracts during the 1970-95 period by investigating whether unanticipated changes in inflation increase the likelihood of a contract being renegotiated prior to its expiration. We find strong empirical support for this hypothesis. Specifically, our results indicate that renegotiations are triggered principally by large and infrequent price shocks of either sign. When combined with evidence that ex ante contract durations are shorter during episodes of increased inflation uncertainty, our results suggest that these contracts are ...
Fixed term employment contracts in an equilibrium search model
Fixed term employment contracts have been introduced in number of European countries as a way to provide flexibility to economies with high employment protection levels. We introduce these contracts into the equilibrium search model in Alvarez and Veracierto (1999), a version of the Lucas and Prescott island model, adapted to have undirected search and variable labor force participation. We model a contract of length J as a tax on separations of workers with tenure higher than J. We show a version of the welfare theorems, and characterize the efficient allocations. This requires solving a ...
What are the short-run effects of increasing labor market flexibility?
This paper evaluates the short-run effects of introducing labor market flexibility to an economy characterized by large firing taxes. Different reforms are considered: 1) eliminating all firing taxes, 2) introducing flexible new contracts while retaining the firing taxes on workers employed previous to the reform, and 3) introducing temporary contracts. The paper finds that eliminating all firing taxes increases the unemployment rate much more in the short run than in the long run, that introducing new flexible contracts has similar effects as eliminating all firing taxes, and that ...
Labor contracts in a model of imperfect competition
We propose a definition of involuntary unemployment which differs from that traditionally used in implicit labor contract theory. We say that a worker is involuntarily unemployed if the marginal wage implied by the optimal contract exceeds the marginal rate of substitution between leisure and consumption. We construct a model where risk-neutral firms have monopoly power and show that such monopoly power is necessary for involuntary unemployment to arise in the optimal contract. We numerically compute examples and show that such unemployment occurs for a wide range of parameter values.
Tax smoothing with redistribution
We study optimal labor and capital taxation in a dynamic economy subject to government expenditure and aggregate productivity shocks. We relax two assumptions from Ramsey models: that a representative agent exists and that taxation is proportional with no lump-sum tax. In contrast, we capture a redistributive motive for distortive taxation by allowing privately observed differences in relative skills across workers. We consider two scenarios for tax instruments: (i) taxation is linear with arbitrary intercept and slope; and (ii) taxation is non-linear and unrestricted as in Mirrleesian ...