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Subsidizing labour hoarding in recessions: the employment and welfare effects of short-time work

Giupponi, Giulia and Landais, Camille ORCID: 0000-0002-9534-680X (2022) Subsidizing labour hoarding in recessions: the employment and welfare effects of short-time work. Review of Economic Studies, 90 (4). 1963–2005. ISSN 0034-6527

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Identification Number: 10.1093/restud/rdac069


Short-time work (STW) policies provide subsidies for hour reductions to workers in firms experiencing temporary shocks. They are the main policy tool used to support labour hoarding during downturns and were aggressively used during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Yet, very little is known about their employment and welfare consequences. This article leverages unique administrative social security data from Italy and quasi-experimental variation in STW policy rules to offer evidence on the effects of STW on firms’ and workers’ outcomes during the Great Recession. Our results show large and significant negative effects of STW treatment on hours, but large and positive effects on headcount employment. We then analyse whether these positive employment effects are welfare enhancing, distinguishing between temporary and more persistent shocks. We first provide evidence that liquidity constraints and rigidities in wages and hours may make labour hoarding inefficiently low without STW. Then, we show that adverse selection of low productivity firms into STW reduces the long-run insurance value of the program and creates significant negative reallocation effects when the shock is persistent.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue > H20 - General
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J20 - General
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies > J65 - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2022 13:54
Last Modified: 17 May 2024 03:21

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