November 2010

IZA DP No. 5335: Who Pays for It? The Heterogeneous Wage Effects of Employment Protection Legislation

Theory predicts that the wage effects of government-mandated severance payments depend on workers' and firms' relative bargaining power. This paper estimates the effect of employment protection legislation (EPL) on workers' individual wages in a quasi-experimental setting, exploiting a reform that introduced unjust-dismissal costs in Italy for firms below 15 employees and left firing costs unchanged for bigger firms. Accounting for the endogeneity of the treatment status, we find that high-bargaining power workers (stayers, white collar and workers above 45) are almost left unaffected by the increase in EPL, while low-bargaining power workers (movers, blue collar and young workers) suffer a drop both in the wage level and its growth rate.