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Wage Flexibility and Contract Structure in Germany

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  • VILHUBERT, Lars

Abstract

In this paper, we look at how labor market conditions at different points during the tenure of individuals with firms are correlated with current earnings. Using data on individuals from the German Socioeconomic Panel for the 1985-1994 period, we find that both the contemporaneous unemployment rate and prior values of the unemployment rate are significantly correlated with current earnings, contrary to results for the American labor market. Estimated elasticities vary between 9 and 15 percent for the elasticity of earnings with respect to current unemployment rates, and between 6 and 10 percent with respect to unemployment rates at the start of current firm tenure. Moreover, whereas local unemployment rates determine levels of earnings, national rates influence contemporaneous variations in earnings. We interpret this result as evidence that German unions do, in fact, bargain over wages and employment, but that models of individualistic contracts, such as the implicit contract model, may explain some of the observed wage drift and longer-term wage movements reasonably well. Furthermore, we explore the heterogeneity of contracts over a variety of worker and job characteristics. In particular, we find evidence that contracts differ across firm size and worker type. Workers of large firms are remarkably more insulated from the job market than workers for any other type of firm, indicating the importance of internal job markets.

Suggested Citation

  • VILHUBERT, Lars, 1999. "Wage Flexibility and Contract Structure in Germany," Cahiers de recherche 9905, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:9905
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1866/472
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ammermueller, Andreas & Kuckulenz, Anja & Zwick, Thomas, 2009. "Aggregate unemployment decreases individual returns to education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 217-226, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wage curve; imicit contracts; wages structure; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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