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Reference Dependence and Labor-Market Fluctuations

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  • Eliaz, Kfir
  • Spiegler, Ran

Abstract

We incorporate reference-dependent worker behavior into a search-matching model of the labor market, in which firms have all the bargaining power and productivity follows a log-linear AR(1) process. Motivated by Akerlof (1982) and Bewley (1999), we assume that existing workers’ output falls stochastically from its normal level when their wage falls below a "reference point", which (following K˝oszegi and Rabin (2006)) is equal to their lagged-expected wage. We formulate the model game-theoretically and show that it has a unique subgame perfect equilibrium that exhibits the following properties: existing workers experience downward wage rigidity, as well as destruction of output following negative shocks due to layoffs or loss of morale; newly hired workers earn relatively flexible wages, but not as much as in the benchmark without reference dependence; market tightness is more volatile than under this benchmark. We relate these findings to the debate over the “Shimer puzzle” (Shimer (2005)).

Suggested Citation

  • Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2012. "Reference Dependence and Labor-Market Fluctuations," Foerder Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 275783, Tel-Aviv University > Foerder Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:isfiwp:275783
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.275783
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    Cited by:

    1. Fongoni, Marco & Dickson, Alex, 2015. "A Theory of Wage Setting Behavior," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-57, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    2. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2018. "Managing intrinsic motivation in a long-run relationship," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 6-9.
    3. Ahrens, Steffen & Pirschel, Inske & Snower, Dennis J., 2014. "A Theory of Wage Adjustment under Loss Aversion," CEPR Discussion Papers 10288, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Vincent Boitier, 2015. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: a Note on the Role of Reference Points," Post-Print hal-00878107, HAL.
    5. Dickson, Alex & Fongoni, Marco, 2019. "Asymmetric reference-dependent reciprocity, downward wage rigidity, and the employment contract," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 409-429.
    6. Freeman, David J., 2017. "Preferred personal equilibrium and simple choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 165-172.
    7. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2014. "Reference Dependence and Labor Market Fluctuations," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 159-200.
    8. Vincent Boitier, 2015. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: a Note on the Role of Reference Points," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00878107, HAL.
    9. Antonio Rosato, 2016. "Selling substitute goods to loss-averse consumers: limited availability, bargains, and rip-offs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(3), pages 709-733, August.
    10. Laszlo Goerke, 2020. "An Efficiency-Wage Model with Habit Concerns about Wages," CESifo Working Paper Series 8428, CESifo.
    11. Marco Fongoni, 2018. "Workers' reciprocity and the (ir)relevance of wage cyclicality for the volatility of job creation," Working Papers 1809, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    12. Fongoni, Marco & Dickson, Alex, 2015. "A Theory of Wage Setting Behavior," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-57, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    13. David Freeman, 2013. "Revealed Preference Foundations of Expectations-Based Reference-Dependence," Discussion Papers dp13-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    14. Laszlo Goerke, 2021. "Habit formation and wage determination," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 42(1), pages 61-76, January.
    15. Ciccarone, Giuseppe & Giuli, Francesco & Marchetti, Enrico, 2019. "Macroeconomic equilibrium and nominal price rigidities under imperfect rationality," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 60-78.
    16. Vincent Boitier, 2013. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: a Note on the Role of Reference Points," Working Papers hal-00878107, HAL.
    17. Holger Herz & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2013. "Market experience is a reference point in judgments of fairness," ECON - Working Papers 128, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    18. von Wangenheim, Jonas, 2017. "English versus Vickrey Auctions with Loss Averse Bidders," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 48, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    19. Martin, Chris & Wang, Bingsong, 2018. "Unemployment Volatility in a Behavioural Search Model," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1179, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial Economics; Labor and Human Capital; Marketing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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