Short-Time Work Benefits Revisited: Some Lessons from the Great Recession

54 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2011

See all articles by Tito Boeri

Tito Boeri

Bocconi University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Herbert Brücker

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

The Great Recession triggered a resurgence of short-time work (STW) throughout the OECD. Several countries introduced from scratch STW or significantly expanded the scope of the programmes already in place. In some countries like Italy, Japan and Germany between 2.5 and 5 per cent of the workforce participated in short-time work schemes at the trough of the recession. In this paper we analyse the rationale for short time work benefits and their effects on labour adjustment from both a cross-country and a time-series perspective. We find that STW actually contributed to reduce job losses during the Great Recession. However, the number of jobs saved, according to our macroeconomic estimates, is smaller than the full-time equivalents jobs involved by these programmes, pointing in some cases to sizeable deadweight costs. Other institutions, like plant-level bargaining over hours, wages and employment levels may be more effective than STW in encouraging adjustment along the intensive margins in presence of temporary shocks. Our results also suggest that STW cannot be readily extended to countries having much different institutional configurations as the demand for STW is very much affected by other institutions such as employment protection legislation and the degree of centralization of collective bargaining. The micro evidence from firm-level data in Germany is more encouraging as to the effectiveness of STW, pointing to rather moderate deadweight losses. We interpret this result as due to specific design features of the German STW that could make it more effective in addressing the moral hazard problems related to reliance on subsidised hour reductions. The German Kurzarbeit scheme is indeed discouraging 100 per cent hours reductions and is experience-rated.

Keywords: intensive margin, short-time

JEL Classification: J63, J65

Suggested Citation

Boeri, Tito and Brücker, Herbert, Short-Time Work Benefits Revisited: Some Lessons from the Great Recession. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5635, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1812480

Tito Boeri (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Herbert Brücker

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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