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A Theory of Wage Setting Behavior

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  • Fongoni, Marco
  • Dickson, Alex

Abstract

Concerns for fairness, workers' morale and reciprocity infuence firms' wage setting policy. In this paper we formalize a theory of wage setting behavior in a simple and tractable model that explicitly considers these behavioral aspects. A worker is assumed to have reference-dependent preferences and displays loss aversion when evaluating the fairness of a wage contract. The theory establishes a wage-effort relationship that captures the worker's reference-dependent reciprocity, which in turn in uences the firm's optimal wage policy. The paper makes two key contributions: it identifies loss aversion as an explanation for a worker's asymmetric reciprocity; and it provides realistic and generalized microfoundation for downward wage rigidity. We further illustrate the implications of our theory for both wage setting and hiring behavior. Downward wage rigidity generates several implications for the outcome of the initial employment contract. The worker's reference wage, his extent of negative reciprocity and the firms expectations are key drivers of the propositions derived.

Suggested Citation

  • Fongoni, Marco & Dickson, Alex, 2015. "A Theory of Wage Setting Behavior," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-57, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:645
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Fongoni, 2018. "Workers' reciprocity and the (ir)relevance of wage cyclicality for the volatility of job creation," Working Papers 1809, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    2. Marco Fongoni, 2018. "A theoretical note on asymmetries in intensity and persistence of reciprocity in labour markets," Working Papers 1815, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    3. Martin, Chris & Wang, Bingsong, 2018. "Unemployment Volatility in a Behavioural Search Model," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1179, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    reference dependence; loss aversion; morale; reciprocity; employment contract; downward wage rigidity; wage setting behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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