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Bargained Wages in Decentralized Wage-Setting Regimes



Collective wage agreements still play an important role in the German wage bargaining system. However, there is a critical debate in Germany whether collective agreements deliver the flexibility needed by firms to adjust to the needs of international competition and technological change. In recent years, the social partners in some industries have responded to this possible lack of flexibility by introducing so called opening clauses into their collective bargaining agreements. These allow firms to deviate from their collective agreement under certain conditions. The aim of this paper is to empirically analyze the prevalence of opening clauses in the German manufacturing sector and their impact on the wage structure. To provide a basis for the empirical analyses, a survey on the existence and intensity of opening clauses in central collective agreements has been conducted. Thereby, these sectoral data about opening clauses are exactly combined with those from the German Structure of Earnings Survey 1995 and 2001, a linked employer-employee dataset from German official statistics. The results show the number of collective bargaining agreements containing opening clauses increasing remarkably since 1991. Furthermore, the implementation of opening clauses into collective contracts creates significant effects on wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolf Dieter Heinbach, 2006. "Bargained Wages in Decentralized Wage-Setting Regimes," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 276/2005, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:hoh:hohdip:276

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 2005. "Wage distributions by wage-setting regime," IAB Discussion Paper 200509, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    2. Holger Alda & Lutz Bellmann & Hermann Gartner, 2009. "Wage Structure and Labor Mobility in the West German Private Sector, 1993-2000," NBER Chapters,in: The Structure of Wages: An International Comparison, pages 261-313 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Franz, Wolfgang, 1999. "Der Flächentarifvertrag: Eine kritische Würdigung aus ökonomischer Sicht," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-57, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Wolfgang Franz & Friedhelm Pfeiffer, 2006. "Reasons for Wage Rigidity in Germany," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(2), pages 255-284, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Qingwei Wang, 2011. "The erosion of union membership in Germany: determinants, densities, decompositions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(1), pages 141-165, January.
    2. Bernd Fitzenberger & Karsten Kohn & Alexander C. Lembcke, 2013. "Union Density and Varieties of Coverage: The Anatomy of Union Wage Effects in Germany," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 66(1), pages 169-197, January.
    3. Fitzenberger Bernd & Sommerfeld Katrin, 2016. "A Sequential Decomposition of the Drop in Collective Bargaining Coverage," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 236(1), pages 37-69, February.
    4. David Card & Jörg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2013. "Workplace Heterogeneity and the Rise of West German Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 967-1015.
    5. Kohn, Karsten & Lembcke, Alexander C., 2007. "Wage Distributions by Bargaining Regime: Linked Employer-Employee Data Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 2849, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Gürtzgen, Nicole & Garloff, Alfred, 2008. "Innovationen in den Rahmenbedingungen von Tarifverhandlungen: Endbericht zum Projekt," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, number 110513.
    7. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00140529 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Wolf Dieter Heinbach & Stefanie Schröpfer, 2007. "Typisierung der Tarifvertragslandschaft. Eine Clusteranalyse der tarifvertraglichen Öffnungsklauseln (Identifying Types of Flexible Bargaining Agreements Using Cluster Analysis)," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 286/2007, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
    9. Wolf Dieter Heinbach & Stefanie Schröpfer, 2007. "Typisierung der Tarifvertragslandschaft. Eine Clusteranalyse der tarifvertraglichen Öffnungsklauseln," IAW Discussion Papers 28, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
    10. Nicolas Canry & Arnaud Lechevalier, 2006. "Wage share variations in France and Germany since 1970: what does really matter?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00140529, HAL.

    More about this item


    opening clauses; collective bargaining; wage structure;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects

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