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Wages, implicit contracts, and the business cycle: Evidence from a European panel

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  • Bellou, Andriana
  • Kaymak, Barış

Abstract

We study the joint behavior of hours and wages over the business cycle in a unique panel of 13 European countries, and document significant history dependence in wages. Workers who experience favorable market conditions during their tenure on the job have higher wages, and work fewer labor hours. Unobserved differences in productivity, such as varying job quality, or match-specific productivity are not likely to explain this variation. The results instead point to the importance of contractual arrangements in wage determination. In economies with decentralized bargaining practices, such arrangements resemble self-enforcing insurance contracts with one-sided commitment (by the employer). On the other hand, in countries with strong unions and centralized wage bargaining, wage behavior is better approximated by full-commitment insurance contracts. The co-movement of hours and wages further confirms a contractual framework with variable worker hours. Despite the strong prevalence of contracts in Europe, however, the elasticity of labor supply is considerably smaller compared to the U.S. labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Bellou, Andriana & Kaymak, Barış, 2012. "Wages, implicit contracts, and the business cycle: Evidence from a European panel," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 898-907.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:19:y:2012:i:6:p:898-907
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2012.08.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Verdugo, Gregory, 2016. "Real wage cyclicality in the Eurozone before and during the Great Recession: Evidence from micro data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 46-69.
    2. Hotchkiss, Julie L. & Moore, Robert E., 2018. "Some Like It Hot: Assessing Longer-Term Labor Market Benefits from a High-Pressure Economy," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2018-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Anderton, Robert & Maria, José R. & Karšay, Alexander & Szörfi, Béla & Périnet, Mathilde & Petroulas, Pavlos & Beck Nelleman, Peter & Conefrey, Thomas & Veiga, Cindy & Zizza, Roberta & Verdugo, Gregor, 2015. "Comparisons and contrasts of the impact of the crisis on euro area labour markets," Occasional Paper Series 159, European Central Bank.
    4. repec:ecb:ecbops:2008159 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Claudia M. Buch, 2013. "Has Labor Income Become More Volatile? Evidence from International Industry-Level Data," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 14(4), pages 399-431, November.
    6. Yicheng Wang, 2015. "Can Wage Dynamics in Long-term Employment Relationships Help Mitigate Financial Shocks?," 2015 Meeting Papers 1189, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business cycles; Wage rigidity; Implicit contracts; Labor supply elasticity;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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