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Why firms avoid cutting wages: Survey evidence from European firms

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Author Info

  • Philip Du Caju

    ()
    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • Theodora Kosma

    ()
    (Bank of Greece)

  • Martina Lawless

    ()
    (Central Bank of Ireland)

  • Julian Messina

    ()
    (World Bank
    Universitat de Girona)

  • Tairi Rõõm

    ()
    (Eesti Pank, Estonia)

Abstract

The rarity with which firms reduce nominal wages has been frequently observed, even in the face of considerable negative economic shocks. This paper uses a unique survey of fourteen European countries to ask firms directly about the incidence of wage cuts and to assess the relevance of a range of potential reasons for why they avoid cutting wages. Concerns about the retention of productive staff and a lowering of morale and effort were reported as key reasons for downward wage rigidity across all countries and firm types. Restrictions created by collective bargaining were found to be an important consideration for firms in euro area countries but were one of the lowest ranked obstacles in non-euro area countries. The paper examines how firm characteristics and collective bargaining institutions affect the relevance of each of the common explanations put forward for the infrequency of wage cuts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bank of Belgium in its series Working Paper Research with number 251.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:201312-251

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Keywords: labour costs; wage rigidity; firm survey; wage cuts; European Union;

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References

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  1. William T. Dickens & Lorenz Goette & Erica L. Groshen & Steinar Holden & Julian Messina & Mark E. Schweitzer & Jarkko Turunen & Melanie E. Ward, 2007. "How wages change: micro evidence from the international wage flexibility project," Staff Reports 275, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2009. "Downward Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Working Paper Series 1105, European Central Bank.
  3. Du Caju, Philip & Gautier, Erwan & Momferatou, Daphne & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie, 2008. "Institutional features of wage bargaining in 23 European countries, the US and Japan," Working Paper Series 0974, European Central Bank.
  4. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2012. "How do European firms adjust their labour costs when nominal wages are rigid?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 792-801.
  5. Bewley, Truman, 2004. "Fairness, Reciprocity, and Wage Rigidity," IZA Discussion Papers 1137, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. Babecky, Jan & Caju, Philip Du & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julian & Room, Tairi, 2009. "The margins of labor cost adjustment : survey evidence from European firms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5160, The World Bank.
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  18. Julián Messina & Cláudia Filipa Duarte & Mario Izquierdo & Philip Du Caju & Niels Lynggård Hansen, 2010. "The Incidence of Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: An Individual-Based Sectoral Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 487-496, 04-05.
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  25. repec:iab:iabjlr:v:45:i:1:p:7-22 is not listed on IDEAS
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Why firms do not like cutting wages
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2014-01-23 15:22:00
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Cited by:
  1. Andrea Bassanini, 2011. "Aggregate Earnings and Macroeconomic Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policies and Institutions," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 123, OECD Publishing.
  2. Aedin Doris & Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman, 2013. "Wage Flexibility and the Great Recession: The Response of the Irish Labour Market," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n244-13.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  3. 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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