Does employment protection affect unemployment? A meta-analysis

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November 2020
Paper author(s): 
Philipp Heimberger

Despite extensive research efforts, the magnitude of the effect of employment protection legislation (EPL) on unemployment remains unclear. This article applies meta-analysis and meta-regression methods to a unique data set consisting of 881 observations on the effect of EPL on unemployment from 75 studies. Once we control for publication selection bias, we cannot reject the hypothesis that the average effect of EPL on unemployment is zero. The meta-regression analysis, however, reveals that the choice of the EPL variable matters: estimates that build on surveybased EPL variables report a significantly stronger unemployment-increasing impact of EPL than estimates developed using EPL indices based on the OECD’s methodology, where the latter relies on coding information from legal provisions. Furthermore, using multi-year averages of the underlying data tends to dampen the reported unemployment effects of EPL, and product market regulation serves as a significant moderator variable.


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