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Hours and Wages in the Depression: British Engineering, 1926-1938

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  • Hart, Robert A.

    ()
    (University of Stirling)

Abstract

On their intensive margins, firms in the British engineering industry adjusted to the severe falls in demand during the 1930s Depression by cutting hours of work. This provided an important means of reducing labour input and marginal labour costs, through movements from overtime to short-time schedules. Nominal wages dropped relatively modestly while real wages continued to rise throughout the trough years of the recession. Empirical work is based on cell data from a panel of 28 local labour markets for the period 1926-38. The data dichotomise between skilled fitters and unskilled labourers and between time-rate and piece-rate workers. The findings have interesting implications for Phillips curve and wage curve studies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 132.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Explorations in Economic History, 2001, 38 (4), 478-502
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp132

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Keywords: hours of work; the Great Depression; British engineering; Phillips Curve; wage curve;

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  1. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Working Papers 722, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Salop, Steven C, 1979. "A Model of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 117-25, March.
  3. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1995. "Does Inflation 'Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market'?," Working Papers 735, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 1978. "Labour Turnover, Wage Structure, and Natural Unemployment," Munich Reprints in Economics 1255, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Estimating a Wage Curve for Britain: 1973-90," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(426), pages 1025-43, September.
  6. Hoel, Michael & Vale, Bent, 1986. "Effects on unemployment of reduced working time in an economy where firms set wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1097-1104, October.
  7. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
  8. Baland, Jean-Marie & Dreze, Jean & Leruth, Luc, 1999. "Daily wages and piece rates in agrarian economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 445-461, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Herman De Jong & Pieter Woltjer, 2011. "Depression dynamics: a new estimate of the Anglo‐American manufacturing productivity gap in the interwar period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 472-492, 05.
  2. Jong, H. de & Woltjer, P., 2009. "A Comparison of Real Output and Productivity for British and American Manufacturing in 1935," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-108, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.

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