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European wage coordination; nightmare or dream to come true? An economic analysis of wage bargaining institutions in the EU

Author

Listed:
  • Alain Borghijs

    (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis)

  • Sjef Ederveen

    (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis)

  • Ruud de Mooij

    (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis)

Abstract

This paper analyses recent trends in wage bargaining institutions in Europe to explain the gradual deterioration in the bargaining position of trade unions. It appears that the integration of European economies is an important factor. This raises the question whether trade unions will respond by coordinating their wages internationally. Our conjecture is that the opportunities for wage coordination are not very strong. This is because of the numerous obstacles associated with heterogenous structures in wage setting in the EU. Softer coordination, e.g. in the form of information exchange or agreements on common rules in wage setting, is more likely to occur and has already been introduced in some cases. If stronger forms of international wage coordination would take off, perhaps in the longer term, this would strengthen the bargaining power of trade unions relative to firms. The implications for equilibrium unemployment are ambiguous. On the one hand, higher bargaining power raises wages and thereby unemployment. On the other hand, it reduces unemployment by better incorporating the response of the ECB to wage demands. Another consequence of stronger forms of international wage coordination may be that the absorption of asymmetric shocks in the EMU gets more problematic. In that case, wage coordination may turn into a nightmare as it hampers a crucial stabilisation mechanism in the EMU.

Suggested Citation

  • Alain Borghijs & Sjef Ederveen & Ruud de Mooij, 2003. "European wage coordination; nightmare or dream to come true? An economic analysis of wage bargaining institutions in the EU," CPB Discussion Paper 17, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Glassner, Vera & Pusch, Toralf, 2010. "The Emergence of Wage Coordination in the Central Western European Metal Sector and its Relationship to European Economic Policy," IWH Discussion Papers 13/2010, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    2. Peeters, Marga & Den Reijer, Ard, 2011. "On wage formation, wage flexibility and wage coordination : A focus on the wage impact of productivity in Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United States," MPRA Paper 31102, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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