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Why Firms Avoid Cutting Wages: Survey Evidence from European Firms

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Author Info

  • Du Caju, Philip

    (National Bank of Belgium)

  • Kosma, Theodora

    (Bank of Greece)

  • Lawless, Martina

    (Central Bank of Ireland)

  • Messina, Julián

    (World Bank and Universitat de Girona)

  • Rõõm, Tairi

    (Eesti Pank)

Abstract

The rarity with which firms reduce nominal wages has been frequently observed, even in the face of considerable negative economic shocks. This paper uses a unique survey of fourteen European countries to ask firms directly about the incidence of wage cuts and to assess the relevance of a range of potential reasons for why they avoid cutting wages. Concerns about the retention of productive staff and a lowering of morale and effort were reported as key reasons for downward wage rigidity across all countries and firm types. Restrictions created by collective bargaining were found to be an important consideration for firms in euro area countries but were one of the lowest ranked obstacles in non-euro area countries. The paper examines how firm characteristics and collective bargaining institutions affect the relevance of each of the common explanations put forward for the infrequency of wage cuts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Central Bank of Ireland in its series Research Technical Papers with number 03/RT/13.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cbi:wpaper:03/rt/13

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Keywords: labour costs; wage rigidity; firm survey; wage cuts; European Union;

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References

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  1. Dickens, William T. & Götte, Lorenz & Groshen, Erica L. & Holden, Steinar & Messina, Julián & Schweitzer, Mark E. & Turunen, Jarkko & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie E., 2006. "How Wages Change: Micro Evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project," IZA Discussion Papers 2487, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Agell, J. & Lundborg, P., 1992. "Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Papers 1993-8, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  3. 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.
  4. Jan Babecký & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julián Messina & Tairi Rõõm, 2010. "Downward nominal and real wage rigidity: survey evidence from European firms," Working Papers 110, Bank of Greece.
  5. Babecky, Jan & Caju, Philip Du & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julian & Room, Tairi, 2009. "The margins of labor cost adjustment : survey evidence from European firms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5160, The World Bank.
  6. Franz, Wolfgang & Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2006. "Reasons for Wage Rigidity in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 2017, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Bertola, Giuseppe & Dabusinskas, Aurelijus & Hoeberichts, Marco M. & Izquierdo, Mario & Kwapil, Claudia & Montornès, Jérémi & Radowski, Daniel, 2010. "Price, wage and employment response to shocks: evidence from the WDN survey," Working Paper Series 1164, European Central Bank.
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  11. Philip Du Caju & Erwan Gautier & Daphne Momferatu & Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, 2009. "Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan," Ekonomia, Cyprus Economic Society and University of Cyprus, vol. 12(2), pages 57-108, Winter.
  12. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2012. "How do European firms adjust their labour costs when nominal wages are rigid?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 792-801.
  13. P. Du Caju & C. Fuss & L. Wintr, 2012. "Sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity: workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Journal of Labour Market Research, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 7-22, March.
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  23. repec:iab:iabjlr:v:45:i:1:p:7-22 is not listed on IDEAS
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Why firms do not like cutting wages
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2014-01-23 15:22:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Andrea Bassanini, 2012. "Aggregate Earnings and Macroeconomic Shocks: the Role of Labour Market Policies and Institutions," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 3(3).
  2. Bergin, Adele & Kelly, Elish & McGuinness, Seamus, 2012. "Explaining Changes in Earnings and Labour Costs During the Recession," Papers EC9, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  3. Aedin Doris & Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman, 2013. "Wage Flexibility and the Great Recession: The Response of the Irish Labour Market," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n244-13.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.

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