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The Institutional Context of an ‘Empirical Law’: The Wage Curve under Different Regimes of Collective Bargaining

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  • Uwe Blien
  • Wolfgang Dauth
  • Thorsten Schank
  • Claus Schnabel

Abstract

The wage curve identified by Blanchflower and Oswald (1994) postulates that the wage level is a decreasing function of the regional unemployment rate. In testing this hypothesis, most empirical studies have not taken into account that differences in the institutional framework may have an impact on the existence (or the slope) of a wage curve. Using a large-scale linked employer-employee data set for western Germany, this paper provides a first test of the relevance of different bargaining regimes and of works councils for the existence of a wage curve. In pooled regressions for the period 1998 to 2006 as well as in worker-level or plant-level fixed-effects estimations we obtain evidence for a wage curve for plants with a collective bargaining agreement at firm level. The point estimates for this group of plants are close to the -0.1 elasticity of wages with respect to unemployment postulated by Blanchflower and Oswald. In this regime, we also find that works councils dampen the adjustment of wages to the regional unemployment situation. In the other regimes of plants that either do not make use of collective contracts or apply sectoral agreements, we do not find a wage curve.
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Suggested Citation

  • Uwe Blien & Wolfgang Dauth & Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel, 2013. "The Institutional Context of an ‘Empirical Law’: The Wage Curve under Different Regimes of Collective Bargaining," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 51(1), pages 59-79, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:51:y:2013:i:1:p:59-79
    DOI: 10.1111/bjir.2013.51.issue-1
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    1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Peter Sanfey, 1996. "Wages, Profits, and Rent-Sharing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 227-251.
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    5. Baltagi, Badi H. & Blien, Uwe & Wolf, Katja, 2009. "New evidence on the dynamic wage curve for Western Germany: 1980-2004," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 47-51, January.
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    7. Addison, John T & Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2001. "Work Councils in Germany: Their Effects on Establishment Performance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 659-694, October.
    8. Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2016. "Do Exporters Really Pay Higher Wages? First Evidence from German Linked Employer–Employee Data," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Microeconometrics of International Trade, chapter 5, pages 177-213 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    9. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Estimating a Wage Curve for Britain: 1973-90," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(426), pages 1025-1043, September.
    10. Olaf H¸bler & Uwe Jirjahn, 2003. "Works Councils and Collective Bargaining in Germany: The Impact on Productivity and Wages," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 50(4), pages 471-491, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schnitzlein, Daniel D., 2012. "How important is cultural background for the level of intergenerational mobility?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 335-337.
    2. Gabriel Felbermayr & Andreas Hauptmann & Hans-Jörg Schmerer, 2014. "International Trade and Collective Bargaining Outcomes: Evidence from German Employer–Employee Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(3), pages 820-837, July.
    3. Raul Ramos & Catia Nicodemo & Esteve Sanromá, 2015. "A spatial panel wage curve for Spain," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 125-139, July.
    4. Tinkl, Fabian, 2010. "A note on Hadamard differentiability and differentiability in quadratic mean," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 08/2010, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    5. Uwe Jirjahn, 2013. "Der Beitrag der Arbeitsmarktökonomik zur Erforschung von Gewerkschaften und Tarifvertragsbeziehungen in Deutschland," Research Papers in Economics 2013-03, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
    6. Uwe Jirjahn, 2015. "Research on Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining in Germany: The Contribution of Labor Economics," Research Papers in Economics 2015-10, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
    7. Taiwo Aderemi, 2015. "Does the wage curve exist in Nigeria? Evidence from a disaggregated labour market," Journal of Social and Economic Development, Springer;Institute for Social and Economic Change, vol. 17(2), pages 184-199, October.
    8. Ana Barufi & Eduardo Haddad & Peter Nijkamp, 2016. "A comprehensive analysis of the wage curve in Brazil: Non-linearities, urban size, and the spatial dimension," ERSA conference papers ersa16p279, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Schnabel Claus, 2016. "United, Yet Apart? A Note on Persistent Labour Market Differences between Western and Eastern Germany," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 236(2), pages 157-179, March.
    10. repec:taf:deveza:v:34:y:2017:i:1:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Dieter von Fintel, 2016. "Wage flexibility in a high unemployment regime: spatial heterogeneity and the size of local labour markets," Working Papers 09/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    12. Moczall, Andreas, 2015. "The effect of hiring subsidies on regular wages," IAB Discussion Paper 201501, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    13. Uwe Jirjahn, 2014. "Works Councils and Collective Bargaining in Germany: A Simple but Crucial Theoretical Extension," Research Papers in Economics 2014-13, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
    14. Müller, Steffen & Stegmaier, Jens, 2017. "Why is there resistance to works councils in Germany? An economic perspective," IWH Discussion Papers 23/2017, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    15. Moczall, Andreas, 2015. "The effect of hiring subsidies on regular wages," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113225, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. repec:col:000093:016010 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Michael Rusinek & Ilan Tojerow, 2014. "The Regional Dimension of Collective Wage Bargaining: The Case of Belgium," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 301-317, February.
    18. Dieter von Fintel, 2017. "Institutional wage-setting, labour demand and labour supply: Causal estimates from a South African pseudo-panel," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 1-16, January.

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    JEL classification:

    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General

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