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Allocative and Remitted Wages

In: Handbook of Macroeconomics

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  • Basu, S.
  • House, C.L.

Abstract

Modern monetary business-cycle models rely heavily on price and wage rigidity. While there is substantial evidence that prices do not adjust frequently, there is much less evidence on whether wage rigidity is an important feature of real world labor markets. While real average hourly earnings are not particularly cyclical, and do not react significantly to monetary policy shocks, systematic changes in the composition of employed workers and implicit contracts within employment arrangements make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about the importance of wage rigidity. We augment a workhorse monetary DSGE model by allowing for endogenous changes in the composition of workers and also by explicitly allowing for a difference between allocative wages and remitted wages. Using both individual-level and aggregate data, we study and extend the available evidence on the cyclicality of wages and we pay particular attention to the response of wages to identified monetary policy shocks. Our analysis suggests several broad conclusions: (i) in the data, composition bias plays a modest but noticeable role in cyclical compensation patterns; (ii) empirically, both the wages for newly hired workers and the “user cost of labor†respond strongly to identified monetary policy innovations; and (iii) a model with implicit contracts between workers and firms and a flexible allocative wage replicates these patterns well. We conclude that price rigidity likely plays a substantially more important role than wage rigidity in governing economic fluctuations.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, S. & House, C.L., 2016. "Allocative and Remitted Wages," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 297-354, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:macchp:v2-297
    DOI: 10.1016/bs.hesmac.2016.05.001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    User cost of labor; Composition bias; Sticky wages; Real wage cyclicality; E24; E3; E31; E32;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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