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Inflation and Labor-Market Adjustment

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

The implications of downward nominal and ex ante real wage rigidity,and of wage contracting for the dispersion of relative wage changes in the presence of price inflation are examined. Rigidity implies that unexpected inflation will raise the variability of relative wage changes; contracting implies unexpected inflation reduces variability. Using data on manufacturing industries for 1955-81, and on private nonfarm industries for1965-81,these hypotheses are studied. The dispersion in relative wage cnanges is reduced by greater price inflation. Most of the reduction is a response to unexpected inflation: Expected inflation has little impact on dispersion.These findings hold for subperiods within the sample, and are robust to different choices of measures of price expectations,including those of the Livingston survey, the Survey Research Center household data, and ARMA forecasts. They stand in striking contrast to the commonly accepted result that price inflation is associated with greater dispersion of relative price changes. They suggest that inflation reduces the ability of relative wages to signal disequilibria among labor markets.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1153.

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Date of creation: Jun 1983
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Publication status: published as Hamermesh, Daniel S. "Inflation and Labor-Market Adjustment." Economica, Vol. 53, (February 1986), pp. 63-73.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1153
Note: LS
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  1. Altonji, Joseph G, 1982. "The Intertemporal Substitution Model of Labour Market Fluctuations: An Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(5), pages 783-824, Special I.
  2. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1970. "Wage Bargains, Threshold Effects, and the Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 501-17, August.
  3. Parks, Richard W, 1978. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-95, February.
  4. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  5. Fischer, Stanley, 1982. "Relative price variability and inflation in the United States and Germany," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 171-196.
  6. Fischer, Stanley, 1982. "Relative price variability and inflation in the United States and Germany," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 171-196.
  7. Cukierman, Alex & Wachtel, Paul, 1982. "Relative Price Variability and Nonuniform Inflationary Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 146-57, February.
  8. Rees, Albert, 1970. "The Phillips Curve as a Menu for Policy Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 37(147), pages 227-38, August.
  9. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  10. Friedman, Milton, 1977. "Nobel Lecture: Inflation and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 451-72, June.
  11. Beach, Charles M & MacKinnon, James G, 1978. "A Maximum Likelihood Procedure for Regression with Autocorrelated Errors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 51-58, January.
  12. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-93, August.
  13. Wachter, Michael L, 1970. "Cyclical Variation in the Interindustry Wage Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 75-84, March.
  14. Tobin, James, 1972. "Inflation and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 1-18, March.
  15. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
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