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Why firms avoid cutting wages: survey evidence from European firms

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  • Philip Du Caju
  • Theodora Kosma
  • Martina Lawless
  • Tairi Rõõm

    ()

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 cut

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Estonia in its series Bank of Estonia Working Papers with number wp2013-2.

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Date of creation: 24 May 2013
Date of revision: 24 May 2013
Handle: RePEc:eea:boewps:wp2013-2

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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. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Götte, Lorenz & Zehnder, Christian, 2008. "A Behavioral Account of the Labor Market: The Role of Fairness Concerns," IZA Discussion Papers 3901, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Philip Du Caju & Catherine Fuss & Ladislav Wintr, 2012. "Downward Wage Regidity for Different Workers and Firms," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 55(1), pages 5-32.
  4. Du Caju, Philip & Gautier, Erwan & Momferatou, Daphne & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie E., 2008. "Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 3867, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Jan Babecký & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julián Messina & Tairi Rõõm, 2009. "The margins of labour cost adjustment: survey evidence from european firms," Working Papers 108, Bank of Greece.
  6. Bertola, G. & Dabusinskas, A. & Hoeberichts, M. & Izquierdo, M. & Kwapil, C. & Montornès, J. & Radowski, D., 2010. "Price, Wage and Employment Response to Shocks: Evidence from the WDN Survey," Working papers 281, Banque de France.
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  15. Caju, P. Du & Fuss, C. & Wintr, L., 2012. "Sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity: workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 45(1), pages 7-22.
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  23. 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.
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  25. 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
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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. Doris, Aedin & O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2013. "Wage Flexibility and the Great Recession: The Response of the Irish Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 7787, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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).

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