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Downward Nominal-Wage Flexibility: Real or Measurement Error?

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  • Peter Gottschalk

    (Boston College)

Abstract

This paper presents a new method to correct for measurement error in wage data and applies this method to address an old question: How much downward wage flexibility is there in the United States? We apply standard methods developed by Bai and Perron to identify structural breaks in time series data. Applying these methods to wage histories allows us to identify when each person experiences a change in nominal wages. The length of the period of constant nominal wages is left unrestricted and is allowed to differ across individuals, as are the size and direction of the nominal-wage change. We apply these methods to data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The evidence we provide indicates that the probability of a cut in nominal wages is substantially overstated in data that are not corrected for measurement error. © 2005 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 87 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 556-568

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:87:y:2005:i:3:p:556-568

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  1. Keane, Michael P, 1993. "Nominal-Contracting Theories of Unemployment: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 932-52, September.
  2. BAI, Jushan & PERRON, Pierre, 1998. "Computation and Analysis of Multiple Structural-Change Models," Cahiers de recherche, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques 9807, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  3. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation “Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market”?," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, Elsevier, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
  5. Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Paul J. Devereux, 1999. "The Extent and Consequences of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity," NBER Working Papers 7236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
  8. Perron, P. & Bai, J., 1995. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Cahiers de recherche, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques 9552, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  9. Blinder, Alan S & Choi, Don H, 1990. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1003-15, November.
  10. McLaughlin, Kenneth J., 1994. "Rigid wages?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 383-414, December.
  11. Shea, John, 1995. "Union Contracts and the Life-Cycle/Permanent-Income Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 186-200, March.
  12. Kahn, Shulamit, 1997. "Evidence of Nominal Wage Stickiness from Microdata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 993-1008, December.
  13. 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, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  14. Brown, James N & Light, Audrey, 1992. "Interpreting Panel Data on Job Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 219-57, July.
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