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Self-enforcing Employment Contracts and Business Cycle Fluctuations

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Abstract

It is often argued that risk-sharing employment relationships provide a better description of labour relations than the standard Walrasian framework. Such relationships have been introduced in macroeconomic models under an assumption of full commitment. In the absence of commitment, however, these relationships must be self-enforcing. This paper examines the impact of limited commitment on labour market fluctuations. It is shown that self-enforcing employment contracts can explain several stylized facts related to the comovements of real wages and hours worked. Moreover, implications for the estimation of intertemporal labour supply elasticities are highlighted. In particular, it is shown that empirical studies of labour supply that neglect the existence of self-enforcing contracts may severely underestimate workers' willingness to substitute leisure intertemporally. On dit souvent que des relations d'emploi impliquant un partage de risque donnent une meilleure description des relations de travail que le cadre Walrasien traditionnel. De telles relations ont été introduites dans des modèles macroéconomiques sous l'hypothèse de plein engagement. Toutefois, en l'absense d'engagement, ces relations doivent être auto-exécutoires. Ce papier étudie l'impact de l'engagement limité sur les fluctuations du marché de l'emploi. Il est montré que les contrats de travail auto-exécutoires peuvent expliquer plusieurs faits caractéristiques reliés aux comouvements du salaire réel et des heures travaillées. De plus, des implications pour l'estimation de l'élasticité intertemporelle de l'offre de travail sont mises en évidence. En particulier, il est montré que les études empiriques qui négligent l'existence de contrats auto-exécutoires peuvent sous-estimer sévèrement la volonté des travailleurs de substituter les loisirs entre les périodes.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Sigouin, 2000. "Self-enforcing Employment Contracts and Business Cycle Fluctuations," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 127, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:127
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Leena Rudanko, 2011. "Aggregate and Idiosyncratic Risk in a Frictional Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2823-2843, October.
    2. Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2007. "Limited Commitment Models Of The Labour Market," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(5), pages 750-773, November.
    3. Rudanko, Leena, 2009. "Labor market dynamics under long-term wage contracting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 170-183, March.
    4. Nan Li, 2007. "Cyclical Wage Movements in Emerging Markets Compared to Developed Economies: A Contractual Approach," Discussion Papers 06-026, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commitment; implicit labour contracts; business cycles.;

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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