Employment Duration and Resistance to Wage Reductions: Experimental Evidence
AbstractOne of the long-standing puzzles in economics is why wages do not fall sufficiently in recessions so as to avoid increases in unemployment. Put differently, if the competitive market wage declines, why don't employers simply force their employees to accept lower wages as well? As an alternative to reviewing statistical data we have performed an experiment with a lower competitive wage in the second phase of an employment relationship that is known to both parties. Our hypothesis is that employers will not lower wages correspondingly and that employees will resist such wage cuts. Our experiment casts two subjects in the highly stylized roles of employer and employee. We find at most mild evidence for resistance to wage declines. Instead, the experimental results can be more fruitfully interpreted in terms of an "ultimatum game", in which some surplus between employers and employees is split. In this view, wages and their lack of decline are simply the mechanical tool for accomplishing this split.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 1998-073.
Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
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Web page: http://center.uvt.nl
wage flexibility; ratchet effect (of wages); (wage) bargaining; labour market; ultimatum game; fair wages;
Other versions of this item:
- Michael Burda & Werner Güth & Georg Kirchsteiger & Harald Uhlig, 2005. "Employment Duration and Resistance to Wage Reductions: Experimental Evidence," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 22, pages 169-189.
- Burda, Michael C. & Güth, Werner & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Uhlig, Harald, 1998. "Employment duration and resistance to wage reductions: Experimental evidence," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1998,74, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
- C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
- C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
- E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomics: Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
- J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
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