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Did firms cut nominal wages in a deflationary environment?: Micro-level evidence from the late 19th and early 20th century banking industry

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  • Seltzer, Andrew

Abstract

This paper examines wage adjustment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries using personnel records from the Union Bank of Australia and Williams Deacon's Bank (England). During the period of this study there was steep and prolonged deflation. Firm-specific and industry-specific demand shocks also put downwards pressure on wages. Although it was common for individual wages at the banks to remain unchanged from year to year, wage cuts were very rare even for senior workers. Turnover at both banks was extremely low and, thus, despite flexibility in the wages of incoming workers, did not offset the effects of individual-level wage rigidity. Consequently real wages moved counter-cyclically.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 47 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 112-125

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:112-125

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

Related research

Keywords: Downwards nominal wage rigidity Labor market adjustment Historical Australian and British labor markets;

References

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  1. William T. Dickens & Lorenz Goette & Erica L. Groshen & Steinar Holden & Julian Messina & Mark E. Schweitzer & Jarkko Turunen & Melanie E. Ward, 2006. "How wages change: micro evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project," Working Paper 0620, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  2. Seltzer, Andrew J. & Simons, Kenneth L., 2001. "Salaries and Career Opportunities in the Banking Industry: Evidence from the Personnel Records of the Union Bank of Australia," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 195-224, April.
  3. Hanes, Christopher, 1993. "The Development of Nominal Wage Rigidity in the Late 19th Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 732-56, September.
  4. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "Nominal Wage Rigidity and the Rate of Inflation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0489, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  6. Lawrence H. Summers, 1989. "Relative Wages, Efficiency Wages, and Keynesian Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 2590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert J. Gordon, 1982. "Why U.S. Wage and Employment Behavior Differs from That in Britain and Japan," NBER Working Papers 0809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, . "Robustness and Real Consequences of Nominal Wage Rigidity," IEW - Working Papers 044, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Christopher Hanes, 2000. "Nominal Wage Rigidity and Industry Characteristics in the Downturns of 1893, 1929, and 1981," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1432-1446, December.
  10. Sundstrom, William A., 1990. "Was There a Golden Age of Flexible Wages? Evidence from Ohio Manufacturing, 1892–1910," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 309-320, June.
  11. Christopher Hanes & John A. James, 2003. "Wage Adjustment Under Low Inflation: Evidence from U.S. History," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1414-1424, September.
  12. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  13. Robert E. Hall, 1980. "Employment Fluctuations and Wage Rigidity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 91-142.
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Cited by:
  1. Seltzer, Andrew, 2012. "The Impact of Female Employment on Male Wages and Careers: Evidence from the English Banking Industry, 1890-1941," IZA Discussion Papers 6663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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