Maurizio Del Conte, Stefano Liebman

I regimi di protezione dell'impiego nelle sintesi econometriche: tre domande per avviare un dibattito

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Starting from a critical appraisal of the index developed by the OECD in 1999 to rate employment protection systems, the paper indicates ways to open a fruitful dialogue between economists and lawyers, founded on a shared scientific awareness of institutional data. The paper contends that the method, scopes and bounds of comparative law are indispensable to the development of cross-country econometrics quantification of institutional data most impervious to legal scrutiny. The paper identifies then three substantial obstacles to the creation of quantifying indexes of institutional data: a) processing textual documents of the respective legal systems may provide distorted views when not set into and against its specific historical, social, cultural context. Hence, it is necessary to envisage the option of renouncing quantification whenever considerations arising from the context suggest quantification operations may prove unsound and unwise; b) the language of law used by lawmakers is a formal instrument highly distinctive from the specific language that expresses it. Thus, homonymous terms used in different countries may have divergent legal meanings, even when properly translated. Econometrics analyses should factor in this variable by renouncing quantification whenever linguistic-legal interpretation of homonymous data uncover substantial differences in meaning; c) Comparison seeks "law in action" and not "law in the books": the former reflects applied law, reality, substantial resolution, whilst the latter reflects apparent law, superstructure, and not law. In conclusion, quantitative surveys that ascribe par values where institutional data are on a par, shorn of any measure of effectiveness in the field, are unreliable.

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