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What is the most flexible component of wage bill adjustment? Evidence from Belgium

  • Fuss, Catherine

This paper decomposes wage bill changes at the firm level into components due to wage changes, and components due to flows of employment. It relies on an administrative matched employer-employee dataset of individual earnings merged with firms' annual accounts for Belgium over the period 1997-2001. The results are in line with what one would expect in a downward wage rigidity environment. On average, wage bill contractions result essentially from employment cuts in spite of wage increases. Wage growth of job stayers is moderated but positive; and wages of entrants compared with those of incumbents are no lower. The labour force cuts are achieved through both reduced entries and increased exits, due to more layoffs, especially in smaller firms, and wider use of early retirement, especially in manufacturing. In addition, the paper points out the role of overtime hours, temporary unemployment and interim workers in adapting hours worked to economic circumstances.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 16 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 320-329

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Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:16:y:2009:i:3:p:320-329
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