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Wages, Productivity and Work Intensity in the Great Depression

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  • Julia Darby
  • Robert A Hart

Abstract

We show that U.S. manufacturing wages during the Great Depression were importantly determined by forces on firms' intensive margins. Short-run changes in work intensity and the longer-term goal of restoring full potential productivity combined to influence real wage growth. By contrast, the external effects of unemployment and replacement rates had much less impact. Empirical work is undertaken against the background of an efficient bargaining model that embraces employment, hours of work and work intensity.

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Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 2002_7.

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Date of revision: Jul 2002
Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2002_7

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  1. Svejnar, J., 1984. "Bargaining power, fear of disagreement and wage settlements: theory and evidence from U.S. industry," CORE Discussion Papers 1984037, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  3. Fair, Ray C, 1985. "Excess Labor and the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 239-45, March.
  4. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "The NAIRU, Unemployment and Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 33-49, Winter.
  5. Bernanke, Ben S & Carey, Kevin, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 853-83, August.
  6. Johnson, George E, 1990. "Work Rules, Featherbedding, and Pareto-optimal Union-Management Bargaining," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages S237-59, January.
  7. Darby, Julia & Hart, Robert A. & Vecchi, Michela, 2001. "Wages, work intensity and unemployment in Japan, UK and USA," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 243-258, May.
  8. O'Brien, Anthony Patrick, 1989. "A Behavioral Explanation for Nominal Wage Rigidity during the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 719-35, November.
  9. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1995. "The Phillips curve is alive and well," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 41-56.
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Cited by:
  1. Margarita Katsimi & Sarantis Kalyvitis & Thomas Moutos, 2009. ""Unwarranted" Wage Changes and the Return on Capital," CESifo Working Paper Series 2804, CESifo Group Munich.

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