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Changes in the Cyclical Sensitivity of Wages in the United States, 1891-1987

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  • Allen, Steven G

Abstract

The conventional wisdom that nominal wages became less sensitive to the business cycle and more autocorrelated after World War II is reexamined here by considering whether these properties are artifacts of the methods used to construct prewar wage series. A replication based on these methods is more cyclically sensitive and exhibits less autocorrelation than the postwar data. Aggregation using variable instead of fixed employment weights also greatly exaggerates the cyclicality of prewar wages. These biases imply that wages are just as sensitive to the cycle today as one hundred years ago, perhaps even more so. Copyright 1992 by American Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 82 (1992)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 122-40

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:82:y:1992:i:1:p:122-40

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  1. Charles L. Schultze, 1981. "Some Macro Foundations for Micro Theory," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 521-592.
  2. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," Working papers 427, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Labor Market Dynamics and Unemployemnt: A Reconsideration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(1), pages 13-72.
  4. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Working Papers 1450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John B. Taylor, 1986. "Improvements in Macroeconomic Stability: The Role of Wages and Prices," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 639-678 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Oi, Walter Y., 1976. "On measuring the impact of wage-price controls: A critical appraisal," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 7-64, January.
  7. G. Warren Nutter & Israel Borenstein & Adam Kaufman, 1962. "Growth of Industrial Production in the Soviet Union," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number nutt62-1, July.
  8. Santomero, Anthony M & Seater, John J, 1978. "The Inflation-Unemployment Trade-off: A Critique of the Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 499-544, June.
  9. Romer, Christina, 1986. "Spurious Volatility in Historical Unemployment Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 1-37, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Kandil, Magda & Woods, Jeffrey G., 1995. "A cross-industry examination of the Lucas misperceptions model," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 55-76.

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