Trade and the (Dis) Incentive to Reform Labor Markets: The Case of Reform in the European Union

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Alessandria, George; Delacroix, Alain
article description
In a closed economy general equilibrium model, Hopenhayn and Rogerson (1993) find large welfare gains to removing firing restrictions. We explore the extent to which international trade alters this result. When economies trade, labor market policies in one country spill over to other countries through a change in the terms of trade. This reduces the incentive to reform labor markets. In a policy game over firing taxes between countries, we find that countries optimally choose positive levels of firing taxes. A coordinated elimination of firing taxes yields considerable benefits. This insight provides some explanation for recent efforts toward labor market reform in the European Union.