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Minimally altruistic wages and unemployment in a matching model

  • Julio J. Rotemberg

This paper presents a model in which firms recruit both unemployed and employed workers by posting vacancies. Firms act monopsonistically and set wages to retain their existing workers as well as to attract new ones. The model differs from Burdett and Mortensen (1998) in that its assumptions ensure that there is an equilibrium where all firms pay the same wage. The paper analyzes the response of this wage to exogenous changes in the marginal revenue product of labor. The paper finds parameters for which the response of wages is modest relative to the response of employment, as appears to be the case in U.S. data and shows that the insistence by workers that firms act with a minimal level of altruism can be a source of dampened wage responses. The paper also considers a setting where this minimal level of altruism is subject to fluctuations and shows that, for certain parameters, the model can explain both the standard deviations of employment and wages and the correlation between these two series over time.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 07-5.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:07-5
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Family finances in the U.S.: recent evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-24.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
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  7. Robert E. Hall, 1997. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations and the Allocation of Time," NBER Working Papers 5933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
  9. Collard, Fabrice & de la Croix, David, 1996. "Gift exchange and the business cycle: the fair wage strikes back," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 1997008, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES), revised 00 Apr 1997.
  10. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  11. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
  12. Dale T. Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 11692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Julio J. Rotemberg, 1999. "A Heuristic Method for Extracting Smooth Trends from Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 7439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Krause, Michael U. & Lubik, Thomas A., 2006. "The cyclical upgrading of labor and on-the-job search," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 459-477, August.
  15. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  16. Jean-Pierre Danthine & André Kurmann, 2003. "Fair Wages in a New Keynesian Model of the Business Cycle," Cahiers de recherche 0320, CIRPEE.
  17. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415.
  18. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 1906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  20. Manuel Toledo & Jose I. Silva, 2005. "Labor Turnover Costs and the Cyclical Behavior of Vacancies and Unemployment," 2005 Meeting Papers 775, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  21. Katharine G. Abraham & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1215-1264, September.
  22. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  23. Levine, David I, 1993. "Fairness, Markets, and Ability to Pay: Evidence from Compensation Executives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1241-59, December.
  24. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877.
  25. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  26. Cheron, A., 2002. "Labor-market search and real business cycles: Nash bargaining vs. fair wage," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 279-285, October.
  27. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1989. "Equilibrium Wage Differentials and Employer Size," Discussion Papers 860, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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