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Wage Dispersion and Country Price Levels

In: International and Interarea Comparisons of Income, Output, and Prices

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  • Robert E. Lipsey
  • Birgitta Swedenborg

Abstract

The purpose of this paper was to investigate whether there is a relationship between the degree of wage dispersion in a country and its price level relative to other countries, compared in a common currency. It was found that once a country's real per capita income and deviations of its exchange rate from its trend value are allowed for, there is a pervasive relationship between wage dispersion and prices. Low wage dispersion, defined as a relatively small difference between the median wage and that of the lowest paid decile of workers, is associated with high price levels. The relationship applies more frequently to service prices than to goods prices, but where it does apply, the effects of wage dispersion are as large for goods as for services.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Lipsey & Birgitta Swedenborg, 1999. "Wage Dispersion and Country Price Levels," NBER Chapters, in: International and Interarea Comparisons of Income, Output, and Prices, pages 453-477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8399
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1982. "Towards an Explanation of National Price Levels," NBER Working Papers 1034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1984. "Why Are Services Cheaper in the Poor Countries?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 279-286, June.
    3. Falvey, Rodney E & Gemmell, Norman, 1991. "Explaining Service-Price Differences in International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1295-1309, December.
    4. Robert E. Lipsey & Birgitta Swedenborg, 1996. "The High Cost Of Eating: Causes Of International Differences In Consumer Food Prices," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(2), pages 181-194, June.
    5. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1991. "Structural Determinants of Real Exchange Rates and National Price Levels: Some Empirical Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 325-334, March.
    6. Kravis, Irving B & Lipsey, Robert E, 1988. "National Price Levels and the Prices of Tradables and Nontradables," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 474-478, May.
    7. Sven W. Arndt & J. David Richardson, 1987. "Real-Financial Linkages Among Open Economies," NBER Working Papers 2230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Mr. Ephraim Kleiman, 1993. "Taxes and the Price Level: A Further Examination of the PPP Hypothesis," IMF Working Papers 1993/005, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Lipsey, Robert E & Swedenborg, Birgitta, 1996. "The High Cost of Eating: Causes of International Differences in Consumer Food Prices," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(2), pages 181-194, June.
    10. Maury Gittleman & Edward N. Wolff, 1993. "International Comparisons Of Inter‐Industry Wage Differentials," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(3), pages 295-312, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bekkers, Eddy & Francois, Joseph & Manchin, Miriam, 2012. "Import prices, income, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 848-869.
    2. Alok Kumar, 2008. "Inflation And The Dispersion Of Real Wages," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 377-399, May.
    3. Robert Lipsey & Birgitta Swedenborg, 2010. "Product price differences across countries: determinants and effects," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 146(3), pages 415-435, September.
    4. Alok Kumar, 2008. "Inflation And The Dispersion Of Real Wages," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 377-399, May.
    5. Clemens Struck & Adnan Velic, 2016. "Relative Prices, Non-Homothetic Preferences, and Product Quality," Trinity Economics Papers tep1516, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    6. Zachariadis, Marios, 2012. "Immigration and international prices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 298-311.
    7. Magnus Blomström & Linda S. Goldberg, 2001. "Introduction to "Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey"," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey, pages 1-14, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Stefan Fölster & Sam Peltzman, 2010. "Competition, Regulation and the Role of Local Government Policies in Swedish Markets," NBER Chapters, in: Reforming the Welfare State: Recovery and Beyond in Sweden, pages 253-284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Struck, Clemens C., 2022. "Wealth, price levels, and product quality," International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 32-48.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance

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