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A cross-country comparison of the cyclicality of real wages


  • Haoming Liu


This paper contains the first cross-country comparison of the cyclical behaviour of real wages using microdata. After controlling for changes in labour quality, I find that real wages are strongly procyclical in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In contrast, the cyclicality of government-published real aggregate hourly wages varies substantially across these three countries. The disparity suggests that a direct comparison of the cyclical behaviour of real aggregate wages is misleading. Finally, I show that variations in labour quality also bias the cross-country correlation of several key labour market variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Haoming Liu, 2003. "A cross-country comparison of the cyclicality of real wages," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(4), pages 923-948, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:36:y:2003:i:4:p:923-948

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Beaudry & Charles Blackorby & Dezsö Szalay, 2009. "Taxes and Employment Subsidies in Optimal Redistribution Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 216-242, March.
    2. Robin Boadway & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau & María del Mar Racionero, 2002. "Optimal Redistribution with Heterogeneous Preferences for Leisure," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(4), pages 475-498, October.
    3. Katherine Cuff, 2000. "Optimality of workfare with heterogeneous preferences," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 149-174, February.
    4. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
    5. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    6. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chassamboulli, Andri, 2013. "Labor-market volatility in a matching model with worker heterogeneity and endogenous separations," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 217-229.
    2. Michael W. L. Elsby & Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2016. "Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession and Other Downturns: Evidence from the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 249-291.
    3. Xin Xu & Robert Kaestner, 2010. "The Business Cycle and Health Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 15737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Xu, Xin, 2013. "The business cycle and health behaviors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 126-136.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles


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