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How wages change: micro evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project

  • William T. Dickens
  • Lorenz Goette
  • Erica L. Groshen
  • Steinar Holden
  • Julian Messina
  • Mark E. Schweitzer
  • Jarkko Turunen
  • Melanie Ward

How do the complex institutions involved in wage setting affect wage changes? The International Wage Flexibility Project provides new microeconomic evidence on how wages change for continuing workers. We analyze individuals’ earnings in 31 different data sets from sixteen countries, from which we obtain a total of 360 wage change distributions. We find a remarkable amount of variation in wage changes across workers. Wage changes have a notably non-normal distribution; they are tightly clustered around the median and also have many extreme values. Furthermore, nearly all countries show asymmetry in their wage distributions below the median. Indeed, we find evidence of both downward nominal and real wage rigidities. We also find that the extent of both these rigidities varies substantially across countries. Our results suggest that variations in the extent of union presence in wage bargaining play a role in explaining differing degrees of rigidities among countries.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 0620.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0620
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  1. Lebow David E & Saks Raven E & Wilson Beth Anne, 2003. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity: Evidence from the Employment Cost Index," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, October.
  2. Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego & Camba-Méndez, Gonzalo & García, Juan Angel, 2003. "Relevant economic issues concerning the optimal rate of inflation," Working Paper Series 0278, European Central Bank.
  3. Holden, Steinar, 2004. "Wage formation under low inflation," Memorandum 09/2004, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  4. Knoppik, Christoph & Beissinger, Thomas, 2005. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in Europe: An Analysis of European Micro Data from the ECHP 1994-2001," University of Regensburg Working Papers in Business, Economics and Management Information Systems 402, University of Regensburg, Department of Economics.
  5. Smith, Jennifer C, 2000. "Nominal Wage Rigidity in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C176-95, March.
  6. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2003. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 762-781, October.
  7. Daniele Checchi & Claudio Lucifora, 2002. "Unions and labour market institutions in Europe," Departmental Working Papers 2002-16, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  8. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  10. Paul J. Devereux & Joseph G. Altonji, 2000. "The extent and consequences of downward nominal wage rigidity," Open Access publications 10197/311, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  11. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata, 2000. "Employment Patterns in OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0448, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  12. William T. Dickens & Lorenz Goette & Erica L. Groshen & Steinar Holden & Julian Messina & Mark E. Schweitzer & Jarkko Turunen & Melanie Ward, 2006. "The interaction of labor markets and inflation: analysis of micro data from the International Wage Flexibility Project," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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