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The firm as a community explaining asymmetric behavior and downward rigidity of wages

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  • Lin, Chung-cheng
  • Yang, C.C.
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    Abstract

    This paper models the firm as a community à la Akerlof [Akerlof, G.A., 1980. A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence. Quarterly Journal of Economics 94, 749-775] to account for asymmetric behavior and, in particular, downward rigidity of wages. It is shown that, through social interaction among workers in the firm community, wage cuts can give rise to a large, discontinuous fall in labor productivity (known as "catastrophe"). Furthermore, this large fall in labor productivity will persist or display inertia (known as "hysteresis") even if the wages are restored to the pre-cut level and beyond. Our catastrophe/hysteresis finding with respect to wage cuts can rationalize the downward rigidity of wage behavior and is consistent with the interview evidence of fragile worker morale emphasized by Bewley [Bewley, T.F., 1999. Why Wages Don't Fall During a Recession. Harvard University Press, Cambridge] and others in explaining why employers are sensitive to and refrain from cutting worker pay.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 2 (November)
    Pages: 390-400

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:68:y:2008:i:2:p:390-400

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

    Related research

    Keywords: Wage rigidity Firm community Catastrophe Hysteresis;

    References

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    1. Blinder, Alan S & Choi, Don H, 1990. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1003-15, November.
    2. Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
    3. Strand, Jon, 1987. "Unemployment as a Discipline Device with Heterogeneous Labor [Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 489-93, June.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    5. Summers, Lawrence H. & Dickens, William T. & Katz, Lawrence F. & Lang, Kevin, 1989. "Employee Crime and the Monitoring Puzzle," Scholarly Articles 3645199, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    6. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J., 1987. "Cooperation, Harassment, and Involuntary Unemployment: An Insider-Outsider Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 196, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    8. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
    9. Peter Howitt, 2002. "Looking Inside the Labor Market: A Review Article," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 125-138, March.
    10. Bewley, Truman F., 1998. "Why not cut pay?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 459-490, May.
    11. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
    12. Holzer, Harry J & Montgomery, Edward B, 1993. "Asymmetries and Rigidities in Wage Adjustments by Firms," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(3), pages 397-408, August.
    13. Shafir, Eldar & Diamond, Peter & Tversky, Amos, 1997. "Money Illusion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 341-74, May.
    14. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1983. "Equilibrium Long-Term Labor Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 23-54, Supplemen.
    15. 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.
    16. Albrecht, James W & Vroman, Susan B, 1998. "Nash Equilibrium Efficiency Wage Distributions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 183-203, February.
    17. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1995. " Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(2), pages 295-307, June.
    18. Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Implementation theory," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 61, pages 2271-2326 Elsevier.
    19. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, December.
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