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The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain

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  • Robert E. Hall
  • Paul R. Milgrom

Abstract

When a job-seeker and an employer meet, find a prospective surplus, and bargain over the wage, conditions in the outside labor market, including especially unemployment, may be irrelevant. The job-seeker's threat point in the bargain is to delay bargaining, not to terminate bargaining and resume search at other employers. Similarly, the employer's threat point is to delay bargaining, not to terminate it. Consequently, the outcome of the bargain depends on the relative costs of delay to the parties, not on the results of irrational threats to disclaim any bargain. In a model of the labor market that otherwise adopts all of the features of the standard Mortensen-Pissarides model, unemployment is much more sensitive to changes in productivity than in the standard model, because feedback through the wage is absent. We also present models where the wage bargain is in partial contact with conditions in the labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2005. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," NBER Working Papers 11245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11245
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
    2. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
    3. Rosen, Asa, 1997. "An equilibrium search-matching model of discrimination," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1589-1613, August.
    4. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Efficiency and Sticky Wages: Evidence from Flows in the Labor Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 397-407, August.
    5. Holden, Steinar, 1997. "Wage Bargaining, Holdout, and Inflation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 235-255, April.
    6. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-979, December.
    7. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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