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How do firms adjust their wage bill in Belgium ? A decomposition along the intensive and extensive margins

Author

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  • Catherine Fuss

    () (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department
    Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Abstract

This paper decomposes wage bill changes at the firm level into components due to wage changes, and components due to net flows of employment. The analysis relies on an administrative employer-employee dataset of individual annual earnings matched with firms' annual accounts for Belgium over the period 1997-2001. Results point to asymmetric behaviour depending on economic conditions. On average, wage bill contractions result essentially from employment cuts in spite of wage increases. Wage growth of job stayers is moderated but still positive; and wages of entrants compared with those of incumbents are no lower. The labour force cuts are achieved through both reduced entries and increased exits. Higher exits may be due to more layoffs, especially in smaller firms, and wider use of early retirement, especially in manufacturing. In addition, the paper points up the role of overtime hours, temporary unemployment and interim workers in adapting to short-run fluctuations.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Fuss, 2008. "How do firms adjust their wage bill in Belgium ? A decomposition along the intensive and extensive margins," Working Paper Research 127, National Bank of Belgium.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:200801-31
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    File URL: https://www.nbb.be/doc/oc/repec/reswpp/wp127en.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. P. Du Caju & C. Fuss & L. Wintr, 2012. "Sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity: workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 45(1), pages 7-22, March.
    2. Du Caju, Philip & Fuss, Catherine & Wintr, Ladislav, 2009. "Understanding sectoral differences in downward real wage rigidity: workforce composition, institutions, technology and competition," Working Paper Series 1006, European Central Bank.
    3. Bergin, Adele & Kelly, Elish & McGuinness, Seamus, 2012. "Explaining Changes in Earnings and Labour Costs During the Recession," Papers EC9, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    4. Claire Loupias & Patrick Sevestre, 2013. "Costs, Demand, and Producer Price Changes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 315-327, March.
    5. Fuss, Catherine, 2009. "What is the most flexible component of wage bill adjustment? Evidence from Belgium," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 320-329, June.
    6. Fuss, Catherine & Wintr, Ladislav, 2009. "Rigid labour compensation and flexible employment? Firm-level evidence with regard to productivity for Belgium," Working Paper Series 1021, European Central Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; employment flows; matched employer-employee data;

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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