Europe > Portugal

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Sónia Félix and Chiara Maggi
This paper studies the macroeconomic effect and underlying firm-level transmission channels of a reduction in business entry costs. We provide novel evidence on the response of firms' entry, exit, and employment decisions. To do so, we use as a natural experiment a reform in Portugal that reduced entry time and costs. Using the staggered implementation of the policy across the Portuguese municipalities, we find that the reform increased local entry and employment by, respectively, 25% and 4.8% per year in its first four years of implementation. Moreover, around 60% of the increase in employment came from incumbent firms expanding their size, with most of the rise occurring among the most productive firms. Standard models of firm dynamics, which assume a constant elasticity of substitution, are inconsistent with the expansionary and heterogeneous response across incumbent firms. We show that in a model with heterogeneous firms and variable markups the most productive firms face a lower demand elasticity and expand their employment in response to increased entry.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
Mr. Alvar Kangur
The growth of Italian exports has lagged that of euro area peers. Against the backdrop of unit labor costs that have risen faster than those in euro area peers, this paper examines whether there is a competitiveness challenge in Italy and evaluates the framework of wage bargaining. Wages are set at the sectoral level and extended nationally. However, they do not respond well to firm-specific productivity, regional disparities, or skill mismatches. Nominally rigid wages have also implied adjustment through lower profits and employment. Wage developments explain about 45 percent of the manufacturing unit labor cost gap with Germany. In a search-and-match DSGE model of the Italian labor market, this paper finds substantial gains from moving from sectoral- to firm-level wage setting of at least 3.5 percentage points lower unemployment (or higher employment) rate and a notable improvement in Italy’s competitiveness over the medium term.
Mr. Romain A Duval, Davide Furceri, and João Tovar Jalles
This paper explores the short-term employment effect of deregulating job protection for regular workers and how it varies with prevailing business cycle conditions. We apply a local projection method to a newly constructed “narrative” dataset of major regular job protection reforms covering 26 advanced economies over the past four decades. The analysis relies on country-sector-level data, using as an identifying assumption the fact that stringent dismissal regulations are more binding in sectors that are characterized by a higher “natural” propensity to regularly adjust their workforce. We find that the responses of sectoral employment to large job protection deregulation shocks depend crucially on the state of the economy at the time of reform——they are positive in an expansion, but become negative in a recession. These findings are consistent with theory, and are robust to a broad range of robustness checks including an Instrumental Variable approach using political economy drivers of reforms as instruments. Our results provide a case for undertaking job protection reform in good times, or for designing it in ways that enhance its short-term impact.
Alexander Hijzen, Pedro S. Martins, and Jante Parlevliet
Since the global financial crisis, sector-level bargaining has come under renewed scrutiny. While in Southern Europe, the crisis raised concerns about the role of collective bargaining as an obstacle to labor market adjustment, in Northern Europe it was perceived more favourably and, according to some, may even have helped to weather the fallout of the crisis more easily. This paper seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of sector-level bargaining systems and their role for labor market performance. We compare two countries with seemingly similar collective bargaining systems, the Netherlands and Portugal, and document a number of features that may affect labor market outcomes, including: i) the scope for flexibility at the firm or worker level within sector-level agreements; ii) the emphasis on representativeness as a criterion for extensions; iii) the effectiveness of coordination across bargaining units; and iv) pro-active government policies to enhance trust and cooperation between the social partners.
Mr. Geoffrey J Bannister and Mr. Alex Mourmouras
We present estimates of welfare by country for 2007 and 2014 using the methodology of Jones and Klenow (2016) which incorporates consumption, leisure, mortality and inequality, and we extend the methodology to include environmental externalities. During the period of the global financial crisis welfare grew slightly more rapidly than income per capita, mainly due to improvements in life expectancy. This led to welfare convergence in most regions towards advanced country levels. Introducing environmental effects changes the welfare ranking for countries that rely heavily on natural resources, highlighting the importance of the natural resource base in welfare. This methodology could provide a theoretically consistent and tractable way of monitoring progress in several Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators.
International Monetary Fund
This supplement presents country case studies reviewing country experiences with managing wage bill pressures, which are the basis for the compensation and employment reform lessons identified in the main paper. The selection of countries for the case studies reflects past studies carried out by either the IMF or the World Bank in the context of technical assistance or bilateral surveillance (Table 1). These studies provide important insights into the different sources of wage bill pressures as well as the reform challenges governments have faced when addressing these pressures over the short and medium term. The studies cover 20 countries, including five advanced economies, six countries from sub-Saharan Africa, two countries in developing Asia, one country in the Middle East and North Africa, three countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and three countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS. The structure of each case study is similar, with each study starting with a presentation of the institutional coverage and framework for setting and managing the wage bill; a description of employment and compensation levels, including their comparison with the private sector; and a discussion of the challenges that motivated the need for reforms and, when applicable, the reforms implemented and lessons derived from these.
International Monetary Fund
Government compensation and employment policies are important for the efficient delivery of public services which are crucial for the functioning of economies and the general prosperity of societies. On average, spending on the wage bill absorbs around one-fifth of total spending. Cross-country variation in wage spending reflects, in part, national choices about the government’s role in priority sectors, as well as variations in the level of economic development and resource constraints.
Alexander Hijzen and Pedro S. Martins
In many countries, notably across Europe, collective bargaining coverage is enhanced by government-issued extensions that widen the reach of collective agreements beyond their signatory parties to all firms and workers in the same sector. This paper analyses the causal impact of such extensions on employment using a natural experiment in Portugal: the immediate suspension by the government that took office in 21 June 2011 of the (until then) nearly automatic extensions. The combination of this suspension and the time needed for processing the extension applications resulted in a sharp and unanticipated decline in the extension probability of agreements signed several month earlier around 1 March 2011. Our results, based on a regression discontinuity design and matched employer-employee-agreement panel data, suggest that extensions had a negative impact on employment growth. Moreover, the effects tend to be concentrated among non-affiliated firms. The lack of representativeness of employer associations is a potentially important factor behind the adverse effect of extensions. Another is the role of retro-activity in combination with the administrative delay in processing extensions. This is particularly relevant in the context of a recession.
Angana Banerji, Mr. Sergejs Saksonovs, Ms. Huidan Huidan Lin, and Mr. Rodolphe Blavy