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Wage Dispersion and Productive Efficiency: Evidence For Sweden

  • Hibbs Jr., Douglas A.

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

  • Locking, Håkan

    (Department of Management and Economics, Växjö University)

The effects of wage dispersion on productive efficiency is a topic rich in theoretical conjecture, a common object of Scandinavian polemical debate and at the same time an issue almost barren of systematic econometric evidence. The Swedish record of enormous compression of relative wages under the institutional regime of centralized solidarity bargaining, followed by substantial de-compression of wages after central bargaining broke down, supplies observations well suited for empirical testing of theories and assertions about the response of productive efficiency to shifts in wage distribution. Results presented in this paper obtained from regression experiments based on distribution-augmented production and labor productivity functions yield no support of 'fairness, morale and cohesiveness' theories implying that wage leveling within workplaces and industries may enhance productivity. We do find substantial evidence, however, that reduction of inter-industry wage differentials contributed positively to aggregate output and productivity growth, most likely for the structural reasons first emphasized by leading Swedish trade union economists almost a half century ago.

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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 21.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 24 Jan 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Labor Economics, 2000, pages 755-783.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0021
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/

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  1. Addison, John T & Hirsch, Barry T, 1989. "Union Effects on Productivity, Profits, and Growth: Has the Long Run Arrived?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 72-105, January.
  2. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  3. Moene, Karl Ove & Wallerstein, Michael, 1997. "Pay Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 403-30, July.
  4. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
  5. Gordon, Robert J, 1986. "Productivity, Wages and Prices Inside and Outside of Manufacturing in the US, Japan and Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 134, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1993. "Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Working Paper Series 380, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  7. Pehkonen, Jaakko, 1995. "Wages and productivity growth in the Nordic countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 1181-1196, June.
  8. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. " Egalitarianism and Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(4), pages 559-79, December.
  9. Steven J. Davis, 1992. "Cross-Country Patterns of Change in Relative Wages," NBER Working Papers 4085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lindbeck, A., 1983. "Interpreting income distributions in a welfare state : The case of Sweden," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 227-256, July.
  11. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1, June.
  12. Per-Anders Edin & Bertl Holmlund, 1993. "The Swedish Wage Stucture: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity Wage Policy?," NBER Working Papers 4257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Alan B. Krueger & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Reflections on the Inter-Industry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 1968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Edin, Per-Anders & Zetterberg, Johnny, 1992. "Interindustry Wage Differentials: Evidence from Sweden and a Comparison with the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1341-49, December.
  16. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 791-836, August.
  17. Flam, Harry, 1987. " Equal Pay for Unequal Work," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 89(4), pages 435-50.
  18. Hibbs, Douglas Jr. & Locking, Hakan, 1996. "Wage compression, wage drift and wage inflation in Sweden," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 109-141, September.
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521590730 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Lundberg, Erik, 1985. "The Rise and Fall of the Swedish Model," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 1-36, March.
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