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Wage Flexibility and Employment Fluctuations: Evidence from the Housing Sector

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  • Pischke, Jörn-Steffen

Abstract

Many economists suspect that downward nominal wage rigidities in ongoing labor contracts are an important source of employment fluctuations over the business cycle but there is little direct empirical evidence on this conjecture. This paper compares three occupations in the housing sector with very different wage setting institutions, real estate agents, architects, and construction workers. I study the wage and employment responses of these occupations to the housing cycle, a proxy for labor demand shocks to the industry. The employment of real estate agents, whose pay is far more flexible than the other occupations, indeed reacts less to the cycle than employment in the other occupations. However, unless labor demand elasticities are large, the estimates do not suggest that the level of wage flexibility enjoyed by real estate agents would buffer employment fluctuations in response to demand shocks by more than 10 to 20 percent compared to completely rigid wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2016. "Wage Flexibility and Employment Fluctuations: Evidence from the Housing Sector," CEPR Discussion Papers 11418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11418
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Effrosyni Adamopoulou & Emmanuele Bobbio & Marta De Philippis & Federico Giorgi, 2016. "Wage rigidities and business cycle fluctuations: a linked employer-employee analysis," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-32, December.
    2. Konopczak, Karolina, 2019. "Modelling labour adjustments over the business cycle: evidence from non-linear ARDL model," MF Working Papers 35, Ministry of Finance in Poland.
    3. de Ridder, M. & Pfajfar, D., 2017. "Policy Shocks and Wage Rigidities: Empirical Evidence from Regional Effects of National Shocks," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1717, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. Wix, Carlo, 2017. "The long-run real effects of banking crises: Firm-level investment dynamics and the role of wage rigidity," SAFE Working Paper Series 189, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    architects; commissions; construction workers; real estate agents; wage rigidity; Wage setting;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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