Edited by Ramón Gómez-Salvador, Ana Lamo, Barbara Petrongolo, Melanie Ward and Etienne Wasmer
332 New forms of employment relationships DISCUSSION Julián Messina In this chapter José Varejão and Pedro Portugal study the consequences of employers’ use of ﬁxed-term contracts for workers’ employment and wage dynamics in the Portuguese economy. The analysis relies on data from a representative household survey spanning from the ﬁrst quarter of 1998 to the third quarter of 2000. The topic is of major relevance in the current European policy debate, which is characterized by the opposing views of those who consider ﬁxedterm contracts as ‘stepping stones’ to more stable employment relationships, and those who view ﬁxed-term contracts as synonyms of low quality jobs or ‘dead-ends’, characterized by high insecurity and little training. The chapter is well written and focused and the analysis is well executed. My discussion will be divided into three parts. First I will brieﬂy put into an international context the Portuguese situation regarding the regulation of ﬁxed-term and open-ended contracts. Second I will describe the characteristics of the analysis performed by the authors and discuss their main ﬁndings. Finally I will discuss their empirical strategy and suggest a number of directions in which the analysis could be extended and possibly improved. Fixed-term contracts might be used by employers for a variety of reasons: to engage workers in seasonal or casual work duties, as a buﬀer stock to economic ﬂuctuations or as a screening device. The ﬁrst type of jobs may not easily lend themselves to permanent contracts, while in principle the second...
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