Evidence on permanent work contracts in China

New research in the Discussion Paper Series of the Global Labor Organization (GLO): In its Labor Contract Law introduced in 2008, China strengthened the labor protection for workers. As a consequence, temporary work contracts have to be permanent after 10 years of work duration. Randall Akee (University of California, Los Angeles) with GLO Fellows Ligiu Zhao and Zhong Zhao (both Renmin University of China) have presented evidence that Chinese companies have often dismissed workers to avoid such permanent contracts resulting in large welfare losses among those workers.

GLO Fellow Zhong Zhao, Renmin University of China, Beijing, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Population Economics

GLO Discussion Paper No. 242

Unintended Consequences of China’s New Labor Contract Law on Unemployment and Welfare Loss of the WorkersDownload PDF
by Akee, Randall & Zhao, Liqiu & Zhao, Zhong


China’s new Labor Contract Law, which intended to strengthen the labor protection for workers, went into effect on January 1, 2008. The law stipulated that the maximum cumulative duration of successive fixed-term (temporary) labor contracts is 10 years, and employees working for the same employer for more than 10 consecutive years are able to secure an open-ended (permanent) labor contract under the new law, which is highly desirable to employees. However, in order to circumvent the new Labor Contract Law, some employers may have dismissed workers, after the passage of the new law, who had worked in the same firm for more than 10 years. Using data from the 2008 China General Social Survey, we find strong evidence that firms did in fact dismiss their formal-contract employees who have been employed for more than 10 years. Additionally, using a regression discontinuity design based on this exogenous change in unemployment status for this particular group of workers, we show that the dismissed workers suffered significant welfare loss in terms of happiness. Our results are robust to various specifications and placebo tests.

Interested in other GLO Discussion Papers?  The GLO DP series for free.

Interested in other research on China? Recent Papers on the Chinese Labor Market.


This entry was posted in Policy, Research. Bookmark the permalink.