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How do firms adjust their wage bill in Belgium? A decomposition along the intensive and extensive margins

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  • Fuss, Catherine

Abstract

This paper decomposes wage bill changes at the firm level into components due to wage changes, and components due to net flows of employment. The analysis relies on an administrative employer-employee dataset of individual annual earnings matched with firms' annual accounts for Belgium over the period 1997-2001. Results point to asymmetric behaviour depending on economic conditions. On average, wage bill contractions result essentially from employment cuts in spite of wage increases. Wage growth of job stayers is moderated but still positive; and wages of entrants compared with those of incumbents are no lower. The labour force cuts are achieved through both reduced entries and increased exits. Higher exits may be due to more layoffs, especially in smaller firms, and wider use of early retirement, especially in manufacturing. In addition, the paper points up the role of overtime hours, temporary unemployment and interim workers in adapting to short-run fluctuations. JEL Classification: J30, J60

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0854.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080854

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Keywords: employment flows; matched employer-employee data; Wages;

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  1. 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.
  2. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A & Haltiwanger, John, 1997. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 115-37, March.
  3. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Catherine Fuss & Ladislav Wintr, 2009. "Rigid labour compensation and flexible employment ? Firm-level evidence with regard to productivity for Belgium," Working Paper Research 159, National Bank of Belgium.
  3. Philip Du Caju & Catherine Fuss & Ladislav Wintr, 2009. "Understanding sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity : workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Working Paper Research 156, National Bank of Belgium.
  4. Fuss, Catherine, 2009. "What is the most flexible component of wage bill adjustment? Evidence from Belgium," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 320-329, June.

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