The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper argues that Japan’s excessive labor market duality can reduce Total Factor Productivity (TFP) due to a negative impact on non-regular workers’ effort and on firms’ incentives to train them. On the basis of cross-country empirical evidence, the paper proposes some reform options. In particular, our analysis suggests that reducing the difference in employment protection between regular and non-regular workers would substantially reduce labor market duality in Japan. One reform consistent with these findings is the introduction of a Single Open Ended Contract for all newly hired workers. This reform could be complemented by a shift towards a model that combines labor market flexibility and security (“flexicurity”) and by policies aimed at encouraging wage growth.