Does Inflation 'Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market'?
AbstractIf nominal wages are downward rigid, moderate levels of inflation may improve labor market efficiency by facilitating real wage cuts. In this paper we attempt to test the hypothesis that downward real wage changes occur more readily in higher-inflation environments. Using individual wage change data from two sources, we find that about 6-10 percent of workers experience nominally rigid wages in a 10- percent inflation environment. This proportion rises to over 15 percent at a 5 percent inflation rate. We use the assumption of symmetry to generate counterfactual distributions of real wage changes in the absence of rigidities. These counterfactual distributions suggest that a 1 percent increase in the inflation rate reduces the fraction of workers with downward-rigid wages by about 0.8 percent, and allows real wages to fall about 0.06 percent faster. A market- level analysis of the effects of nominal rigidities, based on wage growth and unemployment at the state level, is less conclusive. We find only a weak statistical relationship between the rate of inflation and the pace of relative wage adjustments across local labor markets.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 735.
Date of creation: Dec 1995
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wage rigidity; inflation; flexibility;
Other versions of this item:
- David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation “Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market”?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1996. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Working Papers 5538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
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