Efficient Wage Bargains under Uncertain Supply and Demand
AbstractMuch recent thought has been devoted to the macroeconomic importance of the existence of wage contracts. Still, some puzzling features of the most conspicuous form of wage bargaining, that done formally by employers and labor unions, deserve further theoretical attention. Among these important features are: 1. Collective bargaining agreements are rarely contingent on outside events even though the parties have very imperfect knowledge of prospective economic conditions during the period of the contract. The only important exception is the indexing of wages to the cost of living. 2. Employers are permitted wide discretion in determining the level of employment when demand shifts unexpectedly. As employment varies, total compensation varies according to a formula established in the agreement. 3. Agreements are not permanent but are renegotiated on a regular cycle. 4. In the process of renegotiation, the current state of demand has little impact on the new wage schedule. On the other hand, current wages in other industries have an important influence. This feature especially has been denied or ignored by economic theorists even though it is a prominent part of the thinking of labor economists on wage determination.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.
Volume (Year): 69 (1979)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Other versions of this item:
- Robert E. Hall & David M. Lilien, 1978. "Efficient Wage Bargains Under Uncertain Supply and Demand," NBER Working Papers 0306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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- Martin S. Feldstein, 1975. "The Importance of Temporary Layoffs: An Empirical Analysis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(3), pages 725-745.
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- Phelps, Edmund S., 1977. "Indexation issues: A comment on the blinder and Fischer papers," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 149-168, January.
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