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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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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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  1. repec:kap:iaecre:v:13:y:2007:i:2:p:200-213 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Dubois, P. & Jullien, B. & Magnac, T., 2006. "Formal and informal risk sharing in LDCs : theory and empirical evidence," Economics Working Paper Archive (Toulouse) 200608, French Institute for Agronomy Research (INRA), Economics Laboratory in Toulouse (ESR Toulouse).
  3. Andy Snell & Jonathan Thomas, 2006. "Labour Contracts, Equal Treatment and Wage-Unemployment Dynamics," ESE Discussion Papers 144, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  4. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  5. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Long Term Employment Contracts," NBER Working Papers 1831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
  8. 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.
  9. Shin, Donggyun, 1994. "Cyclicality of real wages among young men," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-142, October.
  10. Darren Grant, 2003. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 393-408, April.
  11. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2005. "The spot market matters : evidence on implicit contracts from Britain," Open Access publications 10197/741, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  12. Claudio Michelacci & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2005. "Financial Markets and Wages," NBER Working Papers 11050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Horvath, Michael & Boldrin, Michele, 1995. "Labor contracts and business cycles," UC3M Working papers. Economics 3905, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
  14. Leena Rudanko, 2006. "Labor Market Dynamics under Long Term Wage Contracting," 2006 Meeting Papers 314, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2000. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(2), pages 216-246, April.
  16. Dirk Krueger & Harald Uhlig, 2005. "Competitive Risk Sharing Contracts with One-Sided Commitment," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-003, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  17. 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.
  18. Rosen, Sherwin, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 1144-75, September.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Shin, Donggyun & Shin, Kwanho, 2008. "Why Are The Wages Of Job Stayers Procyclical?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(01), pages 1-21, February.
  22. Paul J. Devereux, 2001. "The cyclicality of real wages within employer-employee matches," Open Access publications 10197/312, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  23. Jonathan Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1988. "Self-Enforcing Wage Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 541-554.
  24. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
  25. 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.
  26. Paul Beaudry & John DiNardo, 1995. "Is the Behavior of Hours Worked Consistent with Implicit Contract Theory?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 743-768.
  27. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  28. Sigouin, Christian, 2004. "Self-enforcing employment contracts and business cycle fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 339-373, March.
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