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Implicit Contracts, Unemployment, and Labor Market Segmentation

  • Altmann, Steffen

    ()

    (University of Copenhagen)

  • Falk, Armin

    ()

    (University of Bonn)

  • Huffman, David B.

    ()

    (University of Pittsburgh)

We analyze the impact of imperfect contract enforcement on the emergence of unemployment. In an experimental labor market where trading parties can form long-term employment relationships, we compare a work environment where effort is observable, but not verifiable to a situation where explicit contracts are feasible. Our main result shows that unemployment is much higher when third-party contract enforcement is absent. Unemployment is involuntary, being caused by firms' employment and contracting policy. Moreover, we show that implicit contracting can lead to a segmentation of the labor market. Firms in both segments earn similar profits, but workers in the secondary sector face much less favorable conditions than their counterparts in primary-sector jobs.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5001.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5001
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  1. 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.
  2. Verhoogen, Eric & Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2004. "Fairness and Freight-Handlers: Local Labor-Market Conditions and Wage-Fairness Perceptions in a Trucking Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 1352, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  13. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2003. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Labor and Demography 0305001, EconWPA.
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  16. Joel Sobel, 2006. "For Better or Forever: Formal versus Informal Enforcement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 271-298, April.
  17. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1996. "Involuntary unemployment and non-compensating wage differentials in an experimental labour market," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5917, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
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  20. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
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