Why U.S. Wage and Employment Behaviour Differs from That in Britain and Japan
This paper argues that rigid wages cannot provide the underpinnings of a universally valid theory of the business cycle, simply because wages are not universally rigid. Several different statistical techniques suggest that wage rates in the U.K. and Japan are between three and 15 times more flexible than in the U.S. during the postwar period. Corresponding to greater flexibility in wages, these two countries also exhibit more stable employment behavior over the business cycle. In historical data covering the period between the late-nineteenth-century and 1940, U.S. wage behavior appears to be much more similar to that in Britain and Japan. The contrast between the prewar data and the postwar data, where the U.S. is a definite outlier, suggests that the 1948 invention of the three-year staggered U.S. wage contract may be the crucial factor underlying sluggish U.S. postwar wage dynamics. A theoretical section attempts to distill from recent literature those features of labor market institutions that are regarded as optimal by economic theory. Japanese institutions exhibit more similarity to this theoretical paradigm than those in the U.S. or U.K. Economic theory predicts that long-duration contracts, like those in the postwar U.S., are more likely to emerge when the perceived cost of renegotiation is high, but we must appeal to history and cultural differences to explain why conflict avoidance plays a more prominent role in the development of Japanese labor market institutions than in the American case. In this comparison Britain is the odd-man-out, with well-publicized industrial strife, together with short contract durations. I appeal to history, the different legal tradition, and the nature of the British unions themselves to explain why the three-year contract became established in America but not in Britain.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 92 (1982)
Issue (Month): 365 (March)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Office of the Secretary-General, Rm E35, The Bute Building, Westburn Lane, St Andrews, KY16 9TS, UK|
Phone: +44 1334 462479
Web page: http://www.res.org.uk/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/asp/journal.asp?ref=0013-0133|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- George A. Akerlof, 1978.
"A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence,"
Special Studies Papers
118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
- Hashimoto, Masanori, 1979. "Bonus Payments, on-the-Job Training, and Lifetime Employment in Japan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1086-1104, October.
- Barro, Robert J., 1977. "Long-term contracting, sticky prices, and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 305-316, July.
- Gray, Jo Anna, 1978. "On Indexation and Contract Length," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 1-18, February.
- Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
- Gordon, Donald F, 1974. "A Neo-Classical Theory of Keynesian Unemployment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(4), pages 431-59, December.
- George L. Perry, 1975. "Determinants of Wage Inflation Around the World," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(2), pages 403-448.
- Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
- James L. Medoff & Katharine G. Abraham, 1980.
"Experience, Performance, and Earnings,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-736.
- Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1977. "Stabilization of the domestic and international economy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-6, January.
- Robert E. Cole, 1972. "Permanent employment in Japan: Facts and fantasies," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 26(1), pages 615-630, October.
- Robert E. Cole, 1972. "Permanent Employment in Japan: Facts and Fantasies," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 26(1), pages 615-630, October.
- Martin Neil Baily, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50.
- William H. Branson & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1979.
"International Adjustment with Wage Rigidity,"
NBER Working Papers
0406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Branson, William H. & Rotemberg, Julio J., 1980. "International adjustment with wage rigidity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 309-332, May.
- William H. Branson & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1981. "International adjustment with wage rigidity," NBER Chapters, in: International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 309-332 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William H. Branson & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1991. "International Adjustment with Wage Rigidity," NBER Chapters, in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 13-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jon Frye & Robert J. Gordon, 1980.
"Government Intervention in the Inflation Process: The Econometrics of "Self-Inflicted Wounds","
NBER Working Papers
0550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Frye, Jon & Gordon, Robert J, 1981. "Government Intervention in the Inflation Process: The Econometrics of "Self-Inflicted Wounds"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 288-94, May.
- William D. Nordhaus, 1972. "The Worldwide Wage Explosion," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 3(2), pages 431-466.
- Dale T. Mortensen, 1982.
"The Matching Process as a Noncooperative Bargaining Game,"
in: The Economics of Information and Uncertainty, pages 233-258
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dale T. Mortensen, 1979. "The Matching Process as a Non-Cooperative/Bargaining Game," Discussion Papers 384, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Grossman, Herschel I, 1977. " Risk Shifting and Reliability in Labor Markets," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 79(2), pages 187-209.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:92:y:1982:i:365:p:13-44. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)or (Christopher F. Baum)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.