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Limited Commitment Models of the Labour Market

  • Jonathan P Thomas

    ()

    (Economics, University of Edinburgh)

  • Tim Worrall

    ()

    (Economics, Keele University)

We present an overview of models of long-term self-enforcing labour contracts in which risk sharing is the dominant motive for contractual solutions. A base model is developed which is sufficiently general to encompass the two-agent problem central to most of the literature, including variable hours. We consider two-sided limited commitment and look at its implications for aggregate labour market variables. We consider the implications for empirical testing and the available empirical evidence. We also consider the one-sided limited commitment problem for which there exists a considerable amount of empirical support.

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File URL: http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ec/wpapers/kerp0711.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Research, Keele University in its series Keele Economics Research Papers with number KERP 2007/11.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kee:kerpuk:2007/11
Note: The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Economic and Social Research Council (Research Grant:RES-000-23-0865). We also thank Jim Malcomson, Leena Rudanko and Dongyun Shin for helpful comments on an earlier draft and the participants of the workshop on ``The theory and empirics of risk sharing'' at the Toulouse School of Economics, September 2007. The usual caveats apply.
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Order Information: Postal: Centre for Economic Research, Research Institute for Public Policy and Management, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG - United Kingdom
Web: http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ec/cer/pubs_kerps.htm Email:


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  1. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1998. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/14, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  2. Darren Grant, 2003. "The effect of implicit contracts on the movement of wages over the business cycle: Evidence from the national longitudinal surveys," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 393-408, April.
  3. Pierre Dubois & Bruno Jullien & Thierry Magnac, 2008. "Formal and Informal Risk Sharing in LDCs: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 2184, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Christian Sigouin, 2000. "Self-enforcing Employment Contracts and Business Cycle Fluctuations," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 127, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  5. Krueger, Dirk & Uhlig, Harald, 2005. "Competitive risk sharing contracts with one-sided commitment," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/07, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  6. Claudio Michelacci & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2004. "Financial Markets and Wages," 2004 Meeting Papers 116, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 1635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sigouin, Christian, 2004. "Self-enforcing employment contracts and business cycle fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 339-373, March.
  9. Leena Rudanko, 2006. "Labor Market Dynamics under Long Term Wage Contracting," 2006 Meeting Papers 314, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Paul J. Devereux, 2001. "The Cyclicality of real wages within employer-employee matches," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(4), pages 835-850, July.
  11. Donggyun Shin & Kwanho Shin, 2003. "Why Are The Wages of Job Stayers Procyclical?," ISER Discussion Paper 0573, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  12. Andy Snell & Jonathan Thomas, 2006. "Labour Contracts, Equal Treatment and Wage-Unemployment Dynamics," ESE Discussion Papers 144, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  13. Shin, Donggyun, 1994. "Cyclicality of real wages among young men," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-142, October.
  14. Christian Calmès, 2007. "Self-Enforcing Labour Contracts and Macroeconomic Dynamics," International Advances in Economic Research, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 13(2), pages 200-213, May.
  15. Michele Boldrin & Michael Horvath, 1994. "Labor Contracts and Business Cycles," Discussion Papers 1068, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  16. Beaudry, Paul & DiNardo, John, 1991. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 665-88, August.
  17. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1987. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Long-term Employment Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 50-68, March.
  18. Haltiwanger, John & Waldman, Michael, 1986. "Insurance and Labor Market Contracting: An Analysis of the Capital Market Assumption," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 355-75, July.
  19. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1992. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias," NBER Working Papers 4202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Beaudry, Paul & DiNardo, John, 1995. "Is the Behavior of Hours Worked Consistent with Implicit Contract Theory?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 743-68, August.
  21. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
  22. Gauthier, Celine & Poitevin, Michel & Gonzalez, Patrick, 1997. "Ex Ante Payments in Self-Enforcing Risk-Sharing Contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 106-144, September.
  23. Malcomson, James M., 1999. "Individual employment contracts," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 2291-2372 Elsevier.
  24. Devereux, Paul J. & Hart, Robert A., 2005. "The Spot Market Matters: Evidence on Implicit Contracts from Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 1497, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  25. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
  26. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  27. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1988. "Self-enforcing Wage Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 541-54, October.
  28. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
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