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Why firms avoid cutting wages: Survey evidence from European firms

  • Philip Du Caju

    ()

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • Theodora Kosma

    ()

    (Bank of Greece)

  • Martina Lawless

    ()

    (Central Bank of Ireland)

  • Julian Messina

    ()

    (World Bank
    Universitat de Girona)

  • Tairi Rõõm

    ()

    (Eesti Pank, Estonia)

The rarity with which firms reduce nominal wages has been frequently observed, even in the face of considerable negative economic shocks. This paper uses a unique survey of fourteen European countries to ask firms directly about the incidence of wage cuts and to assess the relevance of a range of potential reasons for why they avoid cutting wages. Concerns about the retention of productive staff and a lowering of morale and effort were reported as key reasons for downward wage rigidity across all countries and firm types. Restrictions created by collective bargaining were found to be an important consideration for firms in euro area countries but were one of the lowest ranked obstacles in non-euro area countries. The paper examines how firm characteristics and collective bargaining institutions affect the relevance of each of the common explanations put forward for the infrequency of wage cuts.

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Paper provided by National Bank of Belgium in its series Working Paper Research with number 251.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:201312-251
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  1. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2009. "The Margins of Labour Cost Adjustment: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Working Paper Series 1106, European Central Bank.
  2. Philip Du Caju & Catherine Fuss & Ladislav Wintr, 2012. "Downward Wage Regidity for Different Workers and Firms," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 55(1), pages 5-32.
  3. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2012. "How do European firms adjust their labour costs when nominal wages are rigid?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 792-801.
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  6. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2009. "Downward Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Working Paper Series 1105, European Central Bank.
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