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

How do European firms adjust their labour costs when nominal wages are rigid?

  • Babecký, Jan
  • Du Caju, Philip
  • Kosma, Theodora
  • Lawless, Martina
  • Messina, Julián
  • Rõõm, Tairi

Although workers' nominal wages are seldom cut, firms have multiple options available if they require adjustments in their wage bills. We broaden the analysis of relative (in)flexibility in labour costs by investigating the use of other margins of labour cost adjustment at the firm level beyond base wages. Using data from a unique survey, we find that European firms make extensive use of other components of compensation to adjust the cost of labour. Interestingly, firms facing base wage rigidity are more likely to use alternative margins of labour cost adjustment; therefore there appears to be some degree of substitutability between wage flexibility and the flexibility of other cost components. Changes in bonuses and non-pay benefits are some of the potential margins firms use to reduce costs. We also show how the margins of adjustment chosen are affected by unionisation and firm and worker characteristics.

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 Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 792-801

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:19:y:2012:i:5:p:792-801
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. Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Inflation dynamics: A structural econometric analysis," Economics Working Papers 341, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Galuscak, Kamil & Keeney, Mary & Nicolitsas, Daphne & Smets, Frank & Strzelecki, Pawel & Vodopivec, Matija, 2012. "The determination of wages of newly hired employees: Survey evidence on internal versus external factors," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 802-812.
  3. Julián Messina & Philip Du Caju & Cláudia Filipa Duarte & Niels Lynggård Hansen & Mario Izquierdo, 2010. "The incidence of nominal and real wage rigidity : An individual-based sectoral approach," Working Paper Research 191, National Bank of Belgium.
  4. Christoph Knoppik & Thomas Beissinger, 2009. "Downward nominal wage rigidity in Europe: an analysis of European micro data from the ECHP 1994–2001," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 321-338, May.
  5. Bertola, Giuseppe & Dabušinskas, Aurelijus & Hoeberichts, Marco & Izquierdo, Mario & Kwapil, Claudia, 2010. "Price, wage and employment response to shocks: evidence from the WDN survey," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2010,02, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  6. Martine Druant & Silvia Fabiani & Gabor Kezdi & Ana Lamo & Fernando Martins & Roberto Sabbatini, 2009. "How are firms’ wages and prices linked : survey evidence in Europe," Working Paper Research 174, National Bank of Belgium.
  7. 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.
  8. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2003. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 762-781, October.
  9. Jan Babecky & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julian Messina & Tairi Room, 2009. "Downward Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Working Papers 2009/4, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
  10. Paul Oyer, 2005. "Salary or Benefits?," NBER Working Papers 11817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Goette, Lorenz & Sunde, Uwe & Bauer, Thomas K., 2007. "Wage rigidity: Measurement, causes and consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20448, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Yu-Fu Chen & Michael Funke, 2005. "Non-Wage Labour Costs, Policy Uncertainty And Labour Demand - A Theoretical Assessment," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(5), pages 687-709, November.
  13. Du Caju, Philip & Gautier, Erwan & Momferatou, Daphne & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie E., 2008. "Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 3867, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Steinar Holden & Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2007. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in the OECD," CESifo Working Paper Series 2009, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. Kahn, Shulamit, 1997. "Evidence of Nominal Wage Stickiness from Microdata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 993-1008, December.
  16. Yu-Fu Chen & Michael Funke, 2003. "Labour Demand in Germany: An Assessment of Non-Wage Labour Costs," CESifo Working Paper Series 952, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Steinar Holden & Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2004. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in Europe," Working Paper 2004/5, Norges Bank.
  18. Lebow David E & Saks Raven E & Wilson Beth Anne, 2003. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity: Evidence from the Employment Cost Index," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, October.
  19. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345.
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:labeco:v:19:y:2012:i:5:p:792-801. 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.