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Wages, labor or prices: how do firms react to shocks?

  • Dhyne, Emmanuel
  • Druant, Martine

Survey results in 15 European countries for almost 15,000 firms reveal that Belgian firms react more than the average European firm to adverse shocks by reducing permanent and temporary employment. On the basis of a firm-level analysis, this paper confirms that the different reaction to shocks is significant and investigates what factors explain this difference. Although the explanatory value of the variables is limited, most of the explanatory power of the model being associated with the dummy variables coding for firm size, sector and country, the variables investigated provide valuable information. The importance of wage bargaining above the firm level, the automatic system of index-linking wages to past inflation, the limited use of flexible pay, the high share of low-skilled blue-collar workers, the labor intensive production process as well as the less stringent legislation with respect to the protection against dismissal are at the basis of the stronger employment reaction of Belgian firms. On the contrary, employment is safeguarded by the presence of many small firms and a wage cushion. JEL Classification: D21, E30, J31

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1224.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20101224
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  1. Dickens, William T. & Götte, Lorenz & Groshen, Erica L. & Holden, Steinar & Messina, Julián & Schweitzer, Mark E. & Turunen, Jarkko & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie, 2006. "How wages change: micro evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project," Working Paper Series 0697, European Central Bank.
  2. Philip Du Caju & Catherine Fuss & Ladislav Wintr, 2009. "Understanding sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity : workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Working Paper Research 156, National Bank of Belgium.
  3. Martine Druant & Silvia Fabiani & Gabor Kezdi & Ana Lamo & Fernando Martins & Roberto Sabbatini, 2009. "How are firms’ wages and prices linked : survey evidence in Europe," Working Paper Research 174, National Bank of Belgium.
  4. Jan Babecky & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julian Messina & Tairi Room, 2009. "Downward nominal and real wage rigidity : Survey evidence from European firms," Working Paper Research 182, National Bank of Belgium.
  5. Jan Babecky & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julian Messina & Tairi Room, 2009. "The margins of labour cost adjustment : Survey evidence from European firms," Working Paper Research 183, National Bank of Belgium.
  6. M. Druant & Ph. Du Caju & Ph. Delhez, 2008. "Results of the Bank’s survey of wage-setting in Belgian firms," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue iii, pages 49-73, September.
  7. Messina, Julián & Du Caju, Philip & Izquierdo, Mario & Duarte, Cláudia Filipa & Hansen, Niels Lynggård, 2010. "The incidence of nominal and real wage rigidity: an individual-based sectoral approach," Working Paper Series 1213, European Central Bank.
  8. Giuseppe Bertola & Aurelijus Dabusinskas & Marco Hoeberichts & Mario Izquierdo & Claudia Kwapil & Jeremi Montornès & Daniel Radowski, 2010. "Price, wage and employment response to shocks: evidence from the WDN Survey," Working Papers 1006, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
  9. Papke, Leslie E & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1996. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(K) Plan Participation Rates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 619-32, Nov.-Dec..
  10. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
  11. Fabiani, Silvia & Loupias, Claire & Martins, Fernando & Sabbatini, Roberto (ed.), 2007. "Pricing Decisions in the Euro Area: How Firms Set Prices and Why," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195309287, December.
  12. Fuss, Catherine, 2009. "What is the most flexible component of wage bill adjustment? Evidence from Belgium," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 320-329, June.
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