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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 U.S? We apply standard methods developed by Bai and Perron (1998b) to identify structural breaks in time series data. Applying these methods to wage histories allows us to identify when each person experienced 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 is 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 is not corrected for measurement error.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 611.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 31 Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published, Review of Economics and Statistics, 87:3, 556-568, 2005
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:611

Note: This paper is also available as IZA Discussion Paper No. 1327
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Keywords: nominal wage rigidity; measurement error;

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  1. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation “Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market”?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shea, John, 1995. "Union Contracts and the Life-Cycle/Permanent-Income Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 186-200, March.
  3. Kahn, Shulamit, 1997. "Evidence of Nominal Wage Stickiness from Microdata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 993-1008, December.
  4. Perron, P. & Bai, J., 1995. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Cahiers de recherche 9552, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  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, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
  6. Keane, Michael P, 1993. "Nominal-Contracting Theories of Unemployment: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 932-52, September.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. BAI, Jushan & PERRON, Pierre, 1998. "Computation and Analysis of Multiple Structural-Change Models," Cahiers de recherche 9807, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  10. 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.
  11. McLaughlin, Kenneth J., 1994. "Rigid wages?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 383-414, December.
  12. John Bound & Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "The Extent of Measurement Error In Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make A Right?," NBER Working Papers 2885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Brown, James N & Light, Audrey, 1992. "Interpreting Panel Data on Job Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 219-57, July.
  14. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
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