With high unemployment, low participation of specific groups such as the low-skilled and those nearing retirement age, and relatively low average hours worked, France is far from using its full labour potential. Improving the labour market situation would not only increase living standards and growth potential but also reduce social exclusion and ease pressures on public spending. This paper analyses various characteristics of the French labour market that may explain the low utilisation of labour potential. It puts forward the need for a comprehensive reform of the labour market aiming at: i) shifting the burden of social protection in the labour market away from employers towards the state by reducing and streamlining employment protection legislation; ii) removing incentives that lead to early withdrawal from the labour market; iii) allowing employers and employees more freedom to negotiate working hours; and iv) improving efficiency in job placement services.
employment protection legislation, France, labour costs, wage bargaining, public employment services, minimum wage, inactivity traps, working time reduction
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