Real Wages, Working Time, and the Great Depression: What Does Micro Evidence Tell Us?
AbstractBased largely on industry-level aggregate statistics, the prevailing view, and one that has strongly influenced macroeconomic thought, is that real wages during the cycle containing the Great Depression are either acyclical or countercyclical. Does this finding hold-up when more micro data are employed? We examine this question based on detailed blue-collar workers’ company payroll data for a large section of the British engineering and metal working industries. We distinguish between pieceworkers and timeworkers, with pieceworkers accounting for over half the workforce. For the period 1927 to 1937, the two pay groups are broken down into 14 occupations, and 48 travel-to-work geographical districts. We estimate wage and hours cyclicality in respect of the national unemployment rate as well as the district rates. Weekly hours and real weekly earnings are found to be strongly procyclical. Real hourly earnings of pieceworkers are also significantly procyclical. The roles of standard and overtime hours are crucial to these findings.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4977.
Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Real wage cyclicality in the Great Depression: evidence from British engineering and metal working firms' in: Oxford Economic Papers, 2013, 65 (2), 197-218
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
- N64 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: 1913-
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-06-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2010-06-18 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-MAC-2010-06-18 (Macroeconomics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hart, Robert A., 2006.
"Piece Work Pay and Hourly Pay over the Cycle,"
IZA Discussion Papers
2210, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1990.
" The Wage Curve,"
Scandinavian Journal of Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 92(2), pages 215-35.
- Robert B. Barsky & Gary Solon, 1989. "Real Wages Over The Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 2888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Eric T. Swanson, 2007. "Real Wage Cyclicality In The Panel Study Of Income Dynamics," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(5), pages 617-647, November.
- Christopher A. Pissarides, 2007.
"The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?,"
CEP Discussion Papers
dp0839, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Christopher A. Pissarides, 2009. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1339-1369, 09.
- Ch. Pissarides., 2011. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 1.
- Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
- Chirinko, Robert S, 1980. "The Real Wage Rate over the Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 459-61, August.
- Walter Y. Oi, 1962. "Labor as a Quasi-Fixed Factor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 538.
- Bernanke, Ben S, 1986.
"Employment, Hours, and Earnings in the Depression: An Analysis of EightManufacturing Industries,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 82-109, March.
- Ben S. Bernanke, 1985. "Employment, Hours, and Earnings in the Depression: An Analysis of EightManufacturing Industries," NBER Working Papers 1642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Katharine G. Abraham & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1215-1264, September.
- Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
- Seiler, Eric, 1984. "Piece Rate vs. Time Rate: The Effect of Incentives on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(3), pages 363-76, August.
- Solon, Gary & Barsky, Robert & Parker, Jonathan A, 1994.
"Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important Is Composition Bias?,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25, February.
- Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1992. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias," NBER Working Papers 4202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-89, August.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.