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Why Firms Avoid Cutting Wages

Author

Listed:
  • Philip Du Caju
  • Theodora Kosma
  • Martina Lawless
  • Julián Messina
  • Tairi Rõõm

Abstract

Firms very rarely cut nominal wages, even in the face of considerable negative economic shocks. The authors of this article use a unique survey of 14 European countries to ask firms directly about the incidence of wage cuts and to assess the relevance of a range of potential reasons for why the firms avoid cutting wages. They examine how firm characteristics and collective bargaining institutions affect the relevance of each of the common explanations for the infrequency of wage cuts. Concerns about the retention of productive staff and a lowering of morale and effort were reported as key reasons for downward wage rigidity across all countries and firm types. Restrictions created by collective bargaining were found to be an important consideration for firms in Western European (EU-15) countries but were one of the lowest-ranked obstacles in the new EU member-states in Central and Eastern Europe.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julián Messina & Tairi Rõõm, 2015. "Why Firms Avoid Cutting Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 68(4), pages 862-888, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:68:y:2015:i:4:p:862-888
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor costs; downward wage rigidity; firm survey; wage cuts; institutions; European Union;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • P5 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems

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