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Elasticity of Supply to the Firm and the Business Cycle

  • Depew, Briggs

    ()

    (Louisiana State University)

  • Sorensen, Todd A.

    ()

    (University of Nevada, Reno)

A body of recent empirical work has found strong evidence that the labor elasticity of supply to the firm is finite, implying that firms may have wage setting power. However, these studies capture only snapshots of the parameter. We study this parameter over a period that provides substantial variation in the business cycle. Using a rich employee level dataset from the inter-war period, we are able to estimate the elasticity of supply to the firm during several recessions and expansions. Our analysis suggests that the elasticity is indeed lower during recessions, consistent with the comparative statics from the Burdett-Mortensen search model. This differential wage setting power over the business cycle provides an alternative explanation of the pro-cyclicality of wages.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5928.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Labour Economics, 2013, 24, 196-204
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5928
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  1. Dube, Arindrajit & Lester, T. William & Reich, Michael, 2011. "Do Frictions Matter in the Labor Market? Accessions, Separations, and Minimum Wage Effects," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt4t3342nd, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  2. Douglas Staiger & Joanne Spetz & Ciaran Phibbs, 2008. "Is There Monopsony In The Labor Market? Evidence From A Natural Experiment," Working Papers 1115, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Christopher L. Foote & Warren C. Whatley & Gavin Wright, 1998. "Arbritraging a Discriminatory Labor Market: Black Workers at the Ford Motor Company, 1918-1947," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1819, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Katharine G. Abraham & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1215-1264, September.
  5. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe-Agnoli, 2009. "Employer monopsony power in the labor market for undocumented workers," Working Paper 2009-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  6. Torberg Falch, 2010. "The Elasticity of Labor Supply at the Establishment Level," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 237-266, 04.
  7. Boris Hirsch, 2007. "Joan Robinson Meets Harold Hotelling: A Dyopsonistic Explanation of the Gender Pay Gap," Working Papers 024, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  8. Ransom, Michael R, 1993. "Seniority and Monopsony in the Academic Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 221-33, March.
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