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L'Alsace-Moselle peut-elle décider des 35 heures ? : Commentaires sur l'article de Matthieu Chemin et Etienne Wasmer, Journal of Labor Economics, 2009

Abstract : Chemin and Wasmer’s article (2009) tries to prove the inefficiency of the “35 hours” reduction in working time policy on employment by exploiting a natural experiment: three French departments (“Alsace-Moselle”) enforced a reduction in working time of smaller magnitude because in this region firms could integrate in their calculation two additional public holidays that exist there for historical reasons. The 2009 article shows first that employees of this region endured indeed a smaller reduction in working time and second that this smaller reduction in working time was not followed by more unemployment or less job creation. While replicating this article, I discovered a coding error in the definition of firms’ size that seriously undermines the results. Moreover, the article did not take into account the important fraction of trans-border workers in the region that were not directly subject to the reduction in working time. Correcting for the error in firm definition and excluding the trans-border workers from the sample leads to calling into question the main hypothesis of the article. Reduction in working time, as measured with the French Labor Force Survey, was of similar magnitude in Alsace-Moselle as in the rest of France. Hence my replication cast doubts on the validity of this natural experiment for properly evaluating the impact of the reduction in working time policy on employment.
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Olivier Godechot. L'Alsace-Moselle peut-elle décider des 35 heures ? : Commentaires sur l'article de Matthieu Chemin et Etienne Wasmer, Journal of Labor Economics, 2009. 2009. ⟨hal-01391560⟩

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