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Shutdown Threats, Firm Fragmentation and the Skill Premium

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  • Sandén, Klas

    ()
    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

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    Abstract

    This essay investigates the interaction between demand uncertainty and non-competitive labor markets where firm owners have the option to shut down and relocate. Workers cannot find new jobs instantly and therefore accept wage reductions to avoid unemployment, if firm owners credibly threaten to shut down. The analysis shows that the expected wage rate is a mix of a competitive wage rate and a bargained wage rate and that this lowers the skill premium. Further, the option of firms to shut down and relocate increases the average size of firms. The analysis also shows that outsourcing or contracting out is more likely if demand is more uncertain, if market power is smaller, and if the markets for intermediate goods are more competitive. Fragmentation increases the skill premium because it leads to more homogenous firms, with respect to workers’ skills. With more homogenous firms, low-skill workers cannot compensate their inferior productivity in wage bargains with high-skill workers.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/4778
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 265.

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    Length: 57 pages
    Date of creation: 12 Sep 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0265

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    Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
    Phone: 031-773 10 00
    Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/
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    Related research

    Keywords: Distribution; Wages; Outsourcing; Fragmentation; Bargaining;

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    1. Borjas, George J & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Foreign Competition, Market Power, and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1075-1110, November.
    2. Burda, Michael C & Dluhosch, Barbara, 2002. "Cost Competition, Fragmentation, and Globalization," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 424-41, August.
    3. Caroli, Eve & Van Reenen, John, 1999. "Skill biased organizational change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9917, CEPREMAP.
    4. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    5. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan K. Taylor, 1993. "Firms' Use of Outside Contractors: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Matthew F. Mitchell, 2001. "Specialization and the skill premium in the 20th century," Staff Report 290, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    7. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
    8. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
    10. Adrian Wood, 1995. "How Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 57-80, Summer.
    11. Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
    12. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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