IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Did firms cut nominal wages in a deflationary environment?: Micro-level evidence from the late 19th and early 20th century banking industry

  • Seltzer, Andrew

This paper examines wage adjustment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries using personnel records from the Union Bank of Australia and Williams Deacon's Bank (England). During the period of this study there was steep and prolonged deflation. Firm-specific and industry-specific demand shocks also put downwards pressure on wages. Although it was common for individual wages at the banks to remain unchanged from year to year, wage cuts were very rare even for senior workers. Turnover at both banks was extremely low and, thus, despite flexibility in the wages of incoming workers, did not offset the effects of individual-level wage rigidity. Consequently real wages moved counter-cyclically.

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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

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.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 47 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 112-125

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:112-125
Contact details of provider: Web page:

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.:

as in new window
  1. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20131, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. William T. Dickens & Lorenz Goette & Erica L. Groshen & Steinar Holden & Julian Messina & Mark E. Schweitzer & Jarkko Turunen & Melanie Ward, 2007. "How wages change: micro evidence from the international wage flexibility project," Staff Reports 275, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Seltzer, Andrew J. & Simons, Kenneth L., 2001. "Salaries and Career Opportunities in the Banking Industry: Evidence from the Personnel Records of the Union Bank of Australia," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 195-224, April.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2004. "Robustness And Real Consequences Of Nominal Wage Rigidity," Macroeconomics 0409025, EconWPA.
  5. Hanes, Christopher, 1993. "The Development of Nominal Wage Rigidity in the Late 19th Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 732-56, September.
  6. Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Relative Wages, Efficiency Wages, and Keynesian Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 383-88, May.
  7. Sundstrom, William A., 1990. "Was There a Golden Age of Flexible Wages? Evidence from Ohio Manufacturing, 1892–1910," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 309-320, June.
  8. Christopher Hanes & John A. James, 2003. "Wage Adjustment Under Low Inflation: Evidence from U.S. History," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1414-1424, September.
  9. Huberman,Michael, 1996. "Escape from the Market," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521561518.
  10. Robert J. Gordon, 1981. "Why U.S. Wage and Employment Behavior Differs from That in Britain and Japan," NBER Working Papers 0809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  12. Mitchell, Daniel J B, 1985. "Wage Flexibility in the United States: Lessons from the Past," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 36-40, May.
  13. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 1988. "Cooperation, Harassment, and Involuntary Unemployment: An Insider-Outsider Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 167-88, March.
  14. Robert E. Hall, 1980. "Employment Fluctuations and Wage Rigidity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 91-142.
  15. Seltzer, Andrew & Merrett, David T, 2000. "Personnel Policies at the Union Bank of Australia: Evidence from the 1888-1900 Entry Cohorts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 573-613, October.
  16. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  17. Christopher Hanes, 2000. "Nominal Wage Rigidity and Industry Characteristics in the Downturns of 1893, 1929, and 1981," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1432-1446, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:112-125. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.