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How do firms adjust their wage bill in Belgium ? A decomposition along the intensive and extensive margins

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  • Catherine Fuss

    ()
    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department
    Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Abstract

This paper decomposes wage bill changes at the firm level into components due to wage changes, and components due to net flows of employment. The analysis relies on an administrative employer-employee dataset of individual annual earnings matched with firms' annual accounts for Belgium over the period 1997-2001. Results point to asymmetric behaviour depending on economic conditions. On average, wage bill contractions result essentially from employment cuts in spite of wage increases. Wage growth of job stayers is moderated but still positive; and wages of entrants compared with those of incumbents are no lower. The labour force cuts are achieved through both reduced entries and increased exits. Higher exits may be due to more layoffs, especially in smaller firms, and wider use of early retirement, especially in manufacturing. In addition, the paper points up the role of overtime hours, temporary unemployment and interim workers in adapting to short-run fluctuations.

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File URL: http://www.nbb.be/doc/oc/repec/reswpp/wp127En.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bank of Belgium in its series Working Paper Research with number 127.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:200801-31

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Keywords: wages; employment flows; matched employer-employee data;

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References

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  1. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel & John Haltiwanger, 1996. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," Documentos de Trabajo 6, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  2. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
  3. Joseph G. Altonji & Paul J. Devereux, 1999. "The Extent and Consequences of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity," NBER Working Papers 7236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. P. Du Caju & C. Fuss & L. Wintr, 2012. "Sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity: workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Journal of Labour Market Research, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 7-22, March.
  2. Du Caju, Philip & Fuss, Catherine & Wintr, Ladislav, 2009. "Understanding sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity: workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Working Paper Series 1006, European Central Bank.
  3. Fuss, Catherine & Wintr, Ladislav, 2009. "Rigid labour compensation and flexible employment? Firm-level evidence with regard to productivity for Belgium," Working Paper Series 1021, European Central Bank.
  4. Fuss, Catherine, 2009. "What is the most flexible component of wage bill adjustment? Evidence from Belgium," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 320-329, June.
  5. 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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