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Elasticity of Supply to the Firm and the Business Cycle

Author

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  • Depew, Briggs

    () (Utah State University)

  • Sorensen, Todd A.

    () (University of Nevada, Reno)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Depew, Briggs & Sorensen, Todd A., 2011. "Elasticity of Supply to the Firm and the Business Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 5928, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5928
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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," IZA Discussion Papers 5811, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Douglas O. Staiger & Joanne Spetz & Ciaran S. Phibbs, 2010. "Is There Monopsony in the Labor Market? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 211-236, April.
    3. Christopher L. Foote & Warren C. Whatley & Gavin Wright, 2003. "Arbitraging a Discriminatory Labor Market: Black Workers at the Ford Motor Company, 19181947," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 493-532, July.
    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. Ransom, Michael R, 1993. "Seniority and Monopsony in the Academic Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 221-233, March.
    6. Hirsch, Boris, 2007. "Joan Robinson Meets Harold Hotelling : A Dyopsonistic Explanation of the Gender Pay Gap," Discussion Papers 51, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    7. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe-Agnoli, 2009. "Employer monopsony power in the labor market for undocumented workers," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    8. 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, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Webber, Douglas A., 2015. "Firm market power and the earnings distribution," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 123-134.
    2. Depew, Briggs & Norlander, Peter & Sorensen, Todd A., 2013. "Flight of the H-1B: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 7456, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Douglas A. Webber, 2016. "Firm-Level Monopsony and the Gender Pay Gap," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 323-345, April.
    4. Ada Šabic-Lipovaca & Wadim Strielkowski & Yuriy Bilan, 2016. "Intertemporal Substitution and Labour Supply of Bosnian SME’s," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 18(43), pages 634-634, August.
    5. Marinko Škare & Sabina Lacmanovic, 2016. "Human Capital and Economic Growth - How Strong is the Nexus?," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 18(43), pages 612-612, August.
    6. Torberg Falch, 2013. "Wages and Recruitment: Evidence from External Wage Changes," CESifo Working Paper Series 4078, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    monopsony; business cycles; labor market frictions;

    JEL classification:

    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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