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Individual Wage Setting, Efficiency Wages and Productivity in Sweden

  • Lundborg, Per

    (Trade Union Institute for Economic Research)

Swedish wage setting has undergone drastic changes during the last 10-15 years. While Sweden was known for its narrow wage distribution, wage differentiation and wage bargaining at the individual level has become leading principles among white-collar workers’ unions. The purpose of the present paper is to analyse the consequences of this wage policy shift. Wage differences have increased drastically among white-collar workers while remained constant or even decreased among blue collar workers. We show that wage differentiation has had a strong effect on white collar workers’ average wage, and caused a major increase in the wage gap between the aggregates of whitecollar and blue-collar workers. We also show that increases in the coefficient of variation of wages raise productivity in firms with many workers in that worker category. Last and foremost, we show that the transition to individual wage setting raises the scope for firms to set efficiency wages and we find support for the fair wage version of efficiency wage setting. The effects of higher wage/fair wage rates were stronger in the late 1990s, when wage differentiation increased more, than in the early 2000s.

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Paper provided by Trade Union Institute for Economic Research in its series Working Paper Series with number 205.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 09 Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:fiefwp:0205
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  1. Hibbs, Douglas A, Jr & Locking, Hakan, 2000. "Wage Dispersion and Productive Efficiency: Evidence for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 755-82, October.
  2. Harry J. Holzer, 1990. "Wages, employer costs, and employee performance in the firm," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 147-164, February.
  3. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
  4. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1987. "Carrots and Sticks: Pay, Supervision, and Turnover," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages S136-52, October.
  5. George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen, 1988. "Job Switching and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 495-594.
  6. Levine, David I, 1992. "Can Wage Increases Pay for Themselves? Tests with a Production Function," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1102-15, September.
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