Has EMU Had Any Impact on the Degree of Wage Restraint?
This working paper investigates the European Monetary Unification’s (EMU) effect on wage restraint—the degree to which wage increases do or do not exceed productivity growth. We find in cross-sectional investigations that wage restraint either is unchanged or has increased following EMU in the vast majority of countries. This finding contradicts the predictions of a widely cited family of models of coordination of labor market bargaining. In particular, one would have expected Germany to display the greatest decline in wage restraint post-EMU under these models, but in our time-series analysis we find no indication of such a decline. The overall shift toward greater wage restraint is consistent with the models that emphasize the gains from monetary credibility. The time-series evidence on Italy, which shows a significant increase in wage restraint after eurozone entry, also supports this view. That said, the increase in wage restraint in the eurozone is matched by that associated with the increase in credibility seen in the United Kingdom and Sweden after their adoption of inflation targeting post-1992.
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