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International Monetary Fund

The issue of productivity growth in Canada has received considerable attention reflecting its marked slowdown since the early 1970s and concerns about its implications for Canadian competitiveness. To better understand productivity developments in Canada, it is useful to decompose total factor productivity (TFP) into investment-specific productivity change (ISP) and technologically neutral productivity change (TNP). The gap in manufacturing productivity growth between Canada and the United States originates mostly in the strong performance of specific industries, such as electrical products and commercial and industrial machinery.

International Monetary Fund
This paper presents empirical estimates of the policy and structural determinants of the natural rate of unemployment in Canada. The paper begins with a discussion of structural features of the economy which impinge on the adjustment of real wages to their equilibrium level. Estimates are presented showing how the generosity of the unemployment insurance system is related to past levels of unemployment. The empirical results indicate that government policies have been largely responsible for changes in the natural rate, and hence can contribute to a reduction in the natural rate in the medium term.
Mr. Alun H. Thomas and Mr. Eswar S Prasad
This paper provides a quantitative assessment of the relative importance of different labor market adjustment mechanisms in Canada and the United States and also examines the effects of the unemployment insurance (UI) system on labor market adjustment. At the aggregate level, employment growth shocks result in similar unemployment rate responses but smaller wage responses in Canada relative to the United States. Although overall UI generosity has increased aggregate unemployment persistence in Canada, the endogenous component of UI has affected unemployment persistence only marginally. The lower degree of aggregate real wage flexibility in Canada has not been an important determinant of unemployment persistence.
International Monetary Fund
This paper examines the endogeneity of several structural variables which enter unemployment rate equations—the generosity of unemployment benefits, nonwage labor costs, the relative minimum wage, and the degree of unionization. It finds evidence of reverse causality for these structural variables based on causality tests. The structural unemployment rate equation is then estimated using instruments suggested by the empirical analysis of the structural variables. The paper confirms the earlier finding that the generosity of unemployment benefits, nonwage labor costs, and the relative minimum wage have a significant positive impact on the unemployment rate, but fails to find an effect for the degree of unionization.
Mr. Eswar S Prasad
This paper examines recent developments in the Canadian labor market. Using disaggregated labor market data, various hypotheses concerning the slow employment growth and rise in unemployment since 1990 are evaluated. The analysis indicates that a large part of the recent rise in the unemployment rate may reflect an increase in the structural rather than the cyclical component of unemployment. Various sources of labor market rigidities that may have contributed to the increase in structural unemployment are examined. In particular, the role of the unemployment insurance system in contributing to labor market rigidity and measures for reforming this system, including the recent proposals of the government, are discussed. Finally, this paper examines active labor market policies that could help to alleviate structural unemployment.
Mr. Ruy Lama and Carlos Urrutia
We build a small open economy, real business cycle model with labor market frictions to evaluate the role of employment protection in shaping business cycles in emerging economies. The model features matching frictions and an endogenous selection effect by which inefficient jobs are destroyed in recessions. In a quantitative version of the model calibrated to the Mexican economy we find that reducing separation costs to a level consistent with developed economies would reduce output volatility by 15 percent. We also use the model to analyze the Mexican crisis episode of 2008 and conclude that an economy with lower separation costs would have experienced a smaller drop in output and in measured total factor productivity with no significant change in aggregate employment.
DAVID T. COE

Empirical estimates are presented of the policy and structural determinants of the natural rate of unemployment in Canada. The structural features of the economy that impinge on the adjustment of real wages to their equilibrium level are discussed, and estimates are presented showing how the generosity of the unemployment insurance system is related to past levels of unemployment. The empirical results indicate that government policies have been largely responsible for changes in the natural rate, and, hence, they can contribute to a reduction in the natural rate in the medium term.

Caroline Van Rijckeghem

This compilation of summaries of Working Papers released during July-December 1993 is being issued as a part of the Working Paper series. It is designed to provide the reader with an overview of the research work performed by the staff during the period. Authors of Working Papers are normally staff members of the Fund or consultants, although on occasion outside authors may collaborate with a staff member in writing a paper. The views expressed in the Working Papers or their summaries are, however, those of the authors and should not necessarily be interpreted as representing the views of the Fund. Copies of individual Working Papers and information on subscriptions to the annual series of Working Papers may be obtained from IMF Publication Services, International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431. Telephone: (202) 623-7430 Telefax: (202) 623-7201