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Wage moderation and labour productivity

  • Free Huizinga


  • Peter Broer


In the Dutch economic policy debate, wage moderation is widely considered as a key factor for achieving economic growth and low unemployment. However, some economists criticise the policy emphasis on wage moderation, claiming that high wages are needed to maintain structural labour productivity growth. This paper analyses the effects of a wage push on labour productivity within the framework of endogenous technological progress, endogenous technology adoption and insufficient competition. The conclusion is that a wage push raises labour productivity in the short run. However, this rise in labour productivity is temporary and inefficient. In the long run, a wage push may well harm labour productivity. The main message of the paper is that it is probably best not to use wage policy at all as a tool to influence productivity. As a tool against unemployment, however, it is very effective. These insights are applied in a review of the Dutch post-war productivity growth.

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Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 28.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:28
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  1. Caballero, R.J. & Hammour, M.L., 1997. "Jobless Growth: Appropriability, Factor-Substitution, and Unemployment," Working papers 97-18, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Caballero, R-J & Hammour, M-L, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Specificity," Working papers 96-25, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Graafland, J.J. & Huizinga, F.H., 1998. "Taxes and benefits in a non-linear wage equation," MPRA Paper 21076, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Labor- And Capital-Augmenting Technical Change," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-37, 03.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809, October.
  6. Donald A. Walker (ed.), 2000. "Equilibrium," Books, Edward Elgar, volume 0, number 1585, March.
  7. J. Bradford De Long, . "`Liquidation' Cycles: Old-Fashioned Real Business Cycle Theory and the Great Depression," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _135, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1994. "On the Timing and Efficiency of Creative Destruction," NBER Working Papers 4768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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