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Unemployment Benefits, Contract Length and Nominal Wage Flexibility

  • Lars Calmfors
  • Åsa Johansson
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    We show in a union-bargaining model that a decrease in the unemployment benefit level increases not only equilibrium employment, but also nominal wage flexibility, and thus reduces employment variations in the case of nominal shocks. Long-term wage contracts lead to highter expected real wages and hence higher expected unemployment than short-term contracts. Therefore lower benefits reduce the expected utility gross of contract costs of a union member more with long-term than with short-term contracts and thus create an incentive for shorter contracts. Incentives for employers work in the same direction. Lower taxes associated with lower benefits also tend to make short-term contracts more attractive.

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    Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 514.

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    Date of creation: 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_514
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    1. Philippe Bacchetta & Eric Van Wincoop, 1998. "Does Exchange Rate Stability Increase Trade and Capital Flows?," NBER Working Papers 6704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Holmlund, B., 1997. "Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Papers 1997-25, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    3. Michael B. Devereux & Charles Engel, 1998. "Fixed vs. Floating Exchange Rates: How Price Setting Affects the Optimal Choice of Exchange-Rate Regime," NBER Working Papers 6867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ball, Laurence Markham, 1987. "Externalities from Contract Length," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 615-29, September.
    5. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
    6. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
    7. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer, 1988. "The New Keynsesian Economics and the Output-Inflation Trade-off," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 1-82.
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