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Wage rigidity, institutions, and inflation

  • Steinar Holden


    (University of Oslo, Norges Bank (Central Bank of Norway)and CESifo Department of Economics, University of Oslo)

  • Fredrik Wulfsberg


    (Norges Bank (Central Bank of Norway))

A number of recent studies have documented extensive downward nominal wage rigidity (DNWR) for job stayers in many OECD countries. However, DNWR for individual workers may induce downward rigidity or "a floor" for the aggregate wage growth at positive or negative levels. Aggregate wage growth may be below zero because of compositional effects, for example that old, high-wage workers are replaced by young low-wage workers. DNWR may also lead to a positive growth in aggregate wages because of changes in relative wages. We explore industry data for 19 OECD countries, over the period 1971-2006. We find evidence for floors on nominal wage growth at 6 percent and lower in the 1970s and 1980s, at one percent in the 1990s, and at 0.5 percent in the 2000s. Furthermore, we find that DNWR is stronger in country-years with strict employment protection legislation, high union density, centralised wage setting and high inflation.

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Paper provided by Norges Bank in its series Working Paper with number 2009/02.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 27 Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bno:worpap:2009_02
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  1. Steinar Holden, 2004. "The Costs of Price Stability: Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in Europe," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(281), pages 183-208, 05.
  2. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2003. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 762-781, October.
  3. Philip Du Caju & Erwan Gautier & Daphne Momferatu & Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, 2009. "Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan," Ekonomia, Cyprus Economic Society and University of Cyprus, vol. 12(2), pages 57-108, Winter.
  4. Thomas Beissinger & Christoph Knoppik, 2006. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in Europe: An Analysis of European Micro Data from the ECHP 1994-2001," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 275/2006, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  5. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C1-33, March.
  6. Bauer, Thomas K. & Bonin, Holger & Sunde, Uwe, 2004. "Real and Nominal Wage Rigidities and the Rate of Inflation: Evidence from West German Micro Data," RWI Discussion Papers 12, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI).
  7. Elsby, Michael W.L., 2009. "Evaluating the economic significance of downward nominal wage rigidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 154-169, March.
  8. George A. Akerlof & William T. Dickens & George L. Perry, 2000. "Near-Rational Wage and Price Setting and the Long-Run Phillips Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 1-60.
  9. Steinar Holden & Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2007. "How strong is the case for downward real wage rigidity?," Working Papers 07-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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  12. Holden Steinar & Wulfsberg Fredrik, 2008. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in the OECD," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-50, April.
  13. Orietta DESSY, 2004. "Wage rigidity in Italy," Departmental Working Papers 2004-18, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
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  17. Holden, S., 1998. "Wage Drift and the Relevance of Centralised Wage Setting," Memorandum 04/1998, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  18. William T. Dickens & Lorenz Goette & Erica L. Groshen & Steinar Holden & Julian Messina & Mark E. Schweitzer & Jarkko Turunen & Melanie E. Ward, 2007. "How Wages Change: Micro Evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 195-214, Spring.
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  26. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
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