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Wages, Productivity, and Work Intensity in the Great Depression

  • Julia Darby

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, Sir William Duncan Building, 130 Rottenrow, Glasgow G4 0GE, United Kingdom)

  • Robert A. Hart

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Stirling, Cottrell Building, Stirling FK9 4LA, United Kingdom)

We show that U.S. manufacturing wages during the Great Depression were importantly determined by forces on firms' intensive margins. Short-run changes in work intensity and the longer-term influence of potential productivity combined to influence real wage growth. By contrast, the external effects of unemployment and replacement rates had much less impact. Empirical work is undertaken against the background of a simple efficient bargaining model that embraces earnings, employment, hours of work, and work intensity.

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Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 75 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 91-103

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:1:y:2008:p:91-103
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/

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  1. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1995. "The Phillips curve is alive and well," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 41-56.
  2. O'Brien, Anthony Patrick, 1989. "A Behavioral Explanation for Nominal Wage Rigidity during the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 719-35, November.
  3. SVEJNAR, Jan, . "Bargaining power, fear of disagreement, and wage settlements: theory and evidence from U.S. industry," CORE Discussion Papers RP -720, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  5. Ray C. Fair, 1984. "Excess Labor and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 1292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. George E. Johnson, 1986. "Work Rules, Featherbedding, and Pareto-Optimal Union Management Bargaining," NBER Working Papers 1820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ben S. Bernanke & Kevin Carey, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 5439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "The NAIRU, Unemployment and Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 33-49, Winter.
  9. Darby, Julia & Hart, Robert A. & Vecchi, Michela, 2001. "Wages, work intensity and unemployment in Japan, UK and USA," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 243-258, May.
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