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The Heterogeneity of Employment Adjustment Across Japanese Firms A Study Using Panel Data

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The Heterogeneity of Employment Adjustment Across Japanese Firms. A Study Using Panel Data Christophe HURLINyand Sébastien LECHEVALIERz April 2006 Abstract Since the beginning of the 1990s, the evolution of the Japanese employment sys- tem has been characterized by a micro ?macro paradox. While case studies show the intensity of restructuring and downsizing, most of the studies at a macro level conclude to the absence of change. This article contributes to this debate, using a micro database, focusing on the electrical machinery sector in a panel framework and considering a long enough period to make a comparison between the 1990s and the 1970s. The ?rst major result is a stable average speed of employment adjustment but an increasing heterogeneity of this speed at the level of the ?rms. The second main result is the change of the underlying model of employment ad- justment, with an increasing impact of the ?nancial characteristics of the ?rms, which may also be the main explanation of the increasing heterogeneity of the em- ployment adjustment across ?rms. Keywords: Employment Adjustment. Japanese Employment System. Panel. JEL classi?cation: C23, G30, J23, L20, L63, L68 We are sincerely grateful to professors Uni Hiroyuki (Kyoto University), Suzuki Hiromasa (Waseda University) and Hirota Isao (Tokyo University) for providing us the access to the NEEDS-FQ database. As far as the second author is concerned, ?nancing support by French Ministry of Foreign A?airs (Lavoisier Funding program) and by the Japanese Institute of Labour is greatly acknowledged.

  • japanese human resources

  • across ?rms

  • main result

  • employment adjustment

  • japanese employment

  • has recently

  • em- ployment adjustment

  • micro


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TheHeterogeneityofEmploymentAdjustmentAcrossJapaneseFirms.AStudyUsingPanelDataChristopheHURLINyandSébastienLECHEVALIERzApril2006AbstractSincethebeginningofthe1990s,theevolutionoftheJapaneseemploymentsys-temhasbeencharacterizedbyamicro–macroparadox.Whilecasestudiesshowtheintensityofrestructuringanddownsizing,mostofthestudiesatamacrolevelconcludetotheabsenceofchange.Thisarticlecontributestothisdebate,usingamicrodatabase,focusingontheelectricalmachinerysectorinapanelframeworkandconsideringalongenoughperiodtomakeacomparisonbetweenthe1990sandthe1970s.The…rstmajorresultisastableaveragespeedofemploymentadjustmentbutanincreasingheterogeneityofthisspeedatthelevelofthe…rms.Thesecondmainresultisthechangeoftheunderlyingmodelofemploymentad-justment,withanincreasingimpactofthe…nancialcharacteristicsofthe…rms,whichmayalsobethemainexplanationoftheincreasingheterogeneityoftheem-ploymentadjustmentacross…rms.Keywords:EmploymentAdjustment.JapaneseEmploymentSystem.Panel.JELclassi…cation:C23,G30,J23,L20,L63,L68WearesincerelygratefultoprofessorsUniHiroyuki(KyotoUniversity),SuzukiHiromasa(WasedaUniversity)andHirotaIsao(TokyoUniversity)forprovidingustheaccesstotheNEEDS-FQdatabase.Asfarasthesecondauthorisconcerned,…nancingsupportbyFrenchMinistryofForeignA¤airs(LavoisierFundingprogram)andbytheJapaneseInstituteofLabourisgreatlyacknowledged.yLEO,UniversityofOrléans.RuedeBlois.BP6739.45067Orléanscedex2.France.email:christophe.hurlin@univ-orleans.fr.zEHESS.Email:sebastien.lechevalier@ehess.fr1
1IntroductionTheendofthe"Japaneseemploymentsystem"(JES)hasrecentlybecomeawidelysharedidea,inacontextofincreasingpressures.Indeed,whereas…rmsrespondedslowlytomacroeconomicandinstitutionalchangessincethebeginningofthe1990s,anacceleratingadjustmentseemstohavetakenplacesince1998,asthecrisisislastingandmaybeworsening.The2001massiverestructuringintheelectricalmachinerysectorisoneexampleofthechangesa¤ectingtheJES.ThisisallthemoreimportantfromthepointofviewoftheanalysisoftheJapaneseemploymentsystemthat…rmsbelongingtothissector,likeMatsushita,areconsideredtohaveimplementedinthemostaccom-plishedwaytheso-called"lifetimeemployment".Moreover,theelectricalmachinerysectorisparticularlya¤ectedbycontemporarypressuresontheemploymentsystem,suchastheimpactoftechnologiesofinformationandcommunicationorglobalization.Thischangeparticularlyconcernsthecompromiseonemploymentsecurity.However,onemaynoteamicro-macroparadox,thatisanincreasinggapbetweenthestatementspronouncedbythecasestudiesatthemicrolevel,whichconcludetodramaticchanges,andthemacrolevelanalyses,whichinsistontheglobalstabilityofthewagelabornexus(BoyerandJuillard,2000).Inthiscontext,studyingtheemploymentadjustmentatthelevelofthe…rmsisagoodwaytomeasurethecurrentchangesoftheJapaneseemploymentsystemandtheirdeterminants.Itgivesustheopportunitytoempiricallyspecifythetwoalternativesoftheprecedingdebate.Moreprecisely,theissueatstakeistoverifyifthecharacteristicsoftheadjustmentmodel,especiallythespeed,havechangedsincethebeginningofthe1990s.Infact,thisquestionhasalreadybeenthefocusofmanyempiricalworks.Moreprecisely,manystudieshaverecentlyused…rmbasedmicro-dataandhavepartiallyquestionedtheresultsobtainedatthemacroandindustrylevels1.Thefactthatsome…rmsarerestructuringheavilymustnotbeautomaticallyinterpretedasthesignoftheendoflongtermemploymentpracticesingeneral.Nonnegligibledi¤erencesinthe1ThenumberofmicrostudiespublishedinJapaneseincreasedverymuchrecently.NotingonlythestudiespublishedinEnglish,wemayquote:Chuma,2002;Abe,2002;Suruga,1998;HildrethandOhtake,19982
modeofadjustmentareobservedacross…rms,intermsofspeedofadjustment,factorsattheoriginoftheemploymentadjustmentorinqualitativeinstrumentsusedtoadjustemployment.ThislastresultleadstoputintoquestiontheideaoftheuniquenessofthehumanresourcesmanagementmodelinJapan.Then,thequestionistorelatethesedi¤erencesofemploymentadjustmenttofundamentalcharacteristicsofthe…rms,toaskwhetherthisheterogeneityacross…rmshasrecentlyincreasedornot,and,…nally,toexplaintheseevolutions.Theheterogeneityoftheemploymentadjustmentacross…rmsispreciselyatthecenterofourowncontribution,whichconsistsindeepeningthemicrotypestudies.Moreprecisely,weproposetotesttwocon‡ictinghypotheses:theendoflifetimeem-ployment,whichcanbeobservedthroughanidenticalaccelerationoftheadjustmentspeedforall…rms,versusanincreasingheterogeneityoftheemploymentadjustmentacross…rms.Inanycase,itisthennecessarytoanalyzetherootsofthecurrentchanges.Forthispurpose,weuseamicrodatabase,theNEEDS-FQdatabase(NikkeiEconomicElectronicDatabankSystem-FinancialQuest).Itgivesmicro-datafromasampleof126…rmsoftheelectricalmachinerysectoronanannualbasisfrom1970to2001.Thus,ourstudyisatanintermediatelevelbycomparisonwiththemajorityofexistingmicrostudies,somefocusingonafew…rms(Chuma,2002;Suruga,1998;HildrethandOhtake,1998),andtheothersusingnumeroussamplesofmorethan1000…rms,butstrictlylimitedinthetemporaldimensionand/orinthenumberofthetestedexplanatoryvariables(Abe,2002).Webelievethatthisintermediatelevelprovidesausefulcomplementtothepreviousstudiesforseveralreasons.First,weuseapanelframeworktotestandanalyzetheheterogeneityofemploymentadjustmentpatternsacross…rms.Contrarytothemajorityofempiricalstudies,wedonotlimitouranalysistotheintroductionofindividuale¤ects.Rather,weresorttoaBayesianestimationprocedure,whichyieldsto(…rm-speci…c)individualforecastsoftheparametersoftheadjustmentprocess.Second,wemakeacomparisonbetweenthe1970sandthe1990s.Third,wetrytoidentifythefactorsattherootofboththelevelofemploymentad-justmentandtheheterogeneityofthisadjustment;weespeciallyfocusonthe…nancialfactorsbycontrolling…rms’characteristicslikethesizeortheindustry.3