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What Determines the Reservation Wages of Unemployed Workers? New Evidence from German Micro Data

  • Prasad, Eswar

    ()

    (Cornell University)

This paper provides new empirical evidence on the relationship between reservation wages of unemployed workers and macroeconomic factors – including aggregate and local unemployment rates, generosity of the unemployment compensation system and characteristics of the wage structure – as well as individual-specific determinants, including proxies for general and specific human capital, length of unemployment spell and alternative income sources. The longitudinal aspect of the dataset (the German Socio-Economic Panel) provides an interesting perspective on how reservation wages change over time and how they correlate with accepted wage offers for workers who make the transition from unemployment to employment. The findings have important policy implications as well, since they shed some light on the disincentive effects of the German tax and transfer system for the labor supply and employment decisions of unemployed workers at different points of the skill/offer wage distribution.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 694.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Gabriel Fagan, Francesco Mongelli and Julian Morgan (eds.), Institutions and Wage Formation in the New Europe: Proceedings of the ECB's Annual Labor Market Workshop, London: Edward Elgar, 2004
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp694
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  1. Lancaster, Tony & Chesher, Andrew, 1983. "An Econometric Analysis of Reservation Wages," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1661-76, November.
  2. Gorter, Dirk & Gorter, Cees, 1993. "The Relation between Unemployment Benefits, the Reservation Wage and Search Duration," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(2), pages 199-214, May.
  3. Eswar Prasad, 2000. "The Unbearable Stability of the German Wage Structure; Evidence and Interpretation," IMF Working Papers 00/22, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Kiefer, Nicholas M & Neumann, George R, 1979. "An Empirical Job-Search Model, with a Test of the Constant Reservation-Wage Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(1), pages 89-107, February.
  5. Wolfgang Franz, 1980. "The Reservation Wage of Unemployed Persons in the Federal Republic of Germany: Theory and Empirical Tests," NBER Working Papers 0578, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hunt, Jennifer, 1995. "The Effect of Unemployment Compensation on Unemployment Duration in Germany," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 88-120, January.
  7. Blau, David M, 1991. "Search for Nonwage Job Characteristics: A Test of the Reservation Wage Hypothesis," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 186-205, April.
  8. Richard B. Freeman & Ronald Schettkat, 2000. "The Role of Wage and Skill Differences in US-German Employment Differences," NBER Working Papers 7474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jones, Stephen R G, 1989. "Reservation Wages and the Cost of Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(222), pages 225-46, May.
  10. Martin Feldstein & James M. Poterba, 1982. "Unemployment Insurance and Reservation Wages," NBER Working Papers 1011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jones, Stephen R G, 1988. "The Relationship between Unemployment Spells and Reservation Wages as a Test of Search Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(4), pages 741-65, November.
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