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Explaining Variations in Wage Curves: Theory and Evidence

  • Barth, Erling

    ()

    (Institute for Social Research)

  • Bratsberg, Bernt

    ()

    (Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research)

  • Naylor, Robin A.

    ()

    (University of Warwick, Department of Economics)

  • Raaum, Oddbjørn

    ()

    (Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research)

This paper presents both theoretical analysis and econometric evidence for the United States, Great Britain and Norway on the extent to which hourly wages of different groups of workers are sensitive to local labour market conditions. We focus on differences by union status. Our theoretical framework captures both a turnover-based efficiency wage mechanism and one originating in union-firm bargaining. Under fairly general conditions, we show that wages are less sensitive to local unemployment the higher is the bargaining power of the union. In accordance with this theoretical prediction, we find that the absolute value of the elasticity of wages with respect to unemployment is higher in the nonunion sector than in the union sector for all three countries. We interpret the evidence as giving support to an efficiency wage interpretation of the wage curve.

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File URL: http://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2002/Memo-03-2002.pdf
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Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 03/2002.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: 05 Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2002_003
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.htmlEmail:


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  1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1989. "The Wage Curve," NBER Working Papers 3181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  2. Green, Francis & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1996. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect: Can Dynamic Monopsony Provide an Explanation?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(3), pages 433-55, July.
  3. Olivier Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "What We Know and Do Not Know about the Natural Rate of Unemployment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 51-72, Winter.
  4. Erling Barth & Harald Dale-Olsen, 1999. "Monopsonistic Discrimination and the Gender-Wage Gap," NBER Working Papers 7197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bell, Brian & Nickell, Stephen & Quintini, Glenda, 2002. "Wage equations, wage curves and all that," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 341-360, July.
  6. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1992. "International Wage Curves," NBER Working Papers 4200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Baltagi, Badi H. & Blien, Uwe, 1998. "The German wage curve: evidence from the IAB employment sample," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 135-142, November.
  8. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark & Kenneth R. Troske, 1998. "Market Forces and Sex Discrimination," Labor and Demography 9807002, EconWPA.
  9. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Working Papers 722, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Andrews, Martyn J. & Stewart, Mark B. & Swaffield, Joanna K. & Upward, Richard, 1998. "The estimation of union wage differentials and the impact of methodological choices," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 449-474, December.
  11. Karsten Albaek & Rita Asplund & Erling Barth & Stig Blomskog & Bjorn Runar Gudmundsson & Vifill Karlsson & Erik Strojer Madsen, 2000. "Dimensions of the Wage-Unemployment Relationship in the Nordic Countries: Wage Flexibility Without Wage Curves," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1893, Econometric Society.
  12. 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.
  13. Campbell, Carl & Orszag, J. Michael, 1998. "A model of the wage curve," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 119-125, April.
  14. Barth, Erling & Raaum, Oddbjorn & Naylor, Robin, 2000. "Union Wage Effects: Does Membership Matter?," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 68(3), pages 259-75, June.
  15. Jarkko Turunen, 1998. "Disaggregated wage curves in the United States: evidence from panel data of young workers," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(12), pages 1665-1677.
  16. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1, January.
  17. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  18. Hendricks, Wallace, 1981. "Unionism, Oligopoly and Rigid Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(2), pages 198-205, May.
  19. Hoel, Michael, 1989. "Efficiency wages and local versus central wage bargaining," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 175-179, August.
  20. Dyrstad, Jan Morten & Johansen, Kare, 2000. " Regional Wage Responses to Unemployment and Profitabililty: Empirical Evidence from Norwegian Manufacturing Industries," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(1), pages 101-17, February.
  21. Moene, K.O. & Wallerstein, M. & Hoel, M., 1992. "Bargaining Structure and Economic Performance," Memorandum 10/1992, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  22. Lawrence F. Katz & Olivier Blanchard, 1999. "Wage Dynamics: Reconciling Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 69-74, May.
  23. 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.
  24. Holden, S. & Raaum, O., 1989. "Wage Moderation And Unions Structure," Memorandum 06/1989, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  25. Nachum Sicherman, 1993. "Gender Differences in Departure from a Large Firm," NBER Working Papers 4279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. 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.
  27. Bratsberg, Bernt & Turunen, Jarkko, 1996. "Wage curve evidence from panel data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 345-353, June.
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