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Why do capital intensive companies pay higher wages?

  • Virén , Matti


    (University of Turku and Bank of Finland)

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    An obvious answer to this question is the capital-skill complementarity hypothesis originally proposed by Zwi Griliches (1969). But the relatively poor performance of this hypothesis suggests that other explanations are needed. Here we consider the labour union behaviour in the wage bargaining process as such an alternative. The explanation is based on the observation that capital intensive companies are more vulnerable to strike threats and may thus more easily give in for union wage demand. Thus, the bargaining power of unions is related to the capital-labour ratio. This paper provides some tests for these hypotheses with panel data for Finnish companies. The results give support to the wage bargaining hypothesis.

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    Paper provided by Bank of Finland in its series Research Discussion Papers with number 5/2005.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: 13 Feb 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:bofrdp:2005_005
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Bank of Finland, P.O. Box 160, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
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    1. Miller, Paul & Mulvey, Charles, 1996. "Unions, Firm Size and Wages," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 72(217), pages 138-53, June.
    2. Samuel Bentolila & Gilles Saint Paul, 1999. "Explaining movements in the labor share," Economics Working Papers 374, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    3. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
    4. Graziella Bertocchi, 2003. "Labor Market Institutions, International Capital Mobility, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 637-650, July.
    5. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
    6. Konings, Jozef & Walsh, Patrick P, 1994. "Evidence of Efficiency Wage Payments in UK Firm Level Panel Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 542-55, May.
    7. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
    8. Muthoo,Abhinay, 1999. "Bargaining Theory with Applications," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521576475, October.
    9. Devereux, Michael B. & Lockwood, Ben, 1991. "Trade unions, non-binding wage agreements, and capital accumulation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1411-1426, October.
    10. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00353892, HAL.
    11. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
    12. Chris Papageorgiou & Fidel Pérez Sebastián & John Duffy, 2002. "Capital-Skill Complementarity? Evidence From A Panel Of Countries," Working Papers. Serie AD 2002-09, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    13. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    14. Surendra Gera & Gilles Grenier, 1994. "Interindustry Wage Differentials and Efficiency Wages: Some Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(1), pages 81-100, February.
    15. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
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