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Incentives and Wage Rigidity

  • Edward P. Lazear

With the growth of the literature on incentive compensation has come the belief by some that incentive pay may be less rigid than pay that is not designed to effect incentives. Some have gone so far as to argue that this may explain differences in unemployment rates across countries. it is shown that there is no direct link between incentives and wage rigidity. Many compensation schemes that provide incentives have the reverse effect: That is, they tend to make wages more rigid than would be the case were incentives not an issue atall. This paper explores the relationship between wage rigidity and the provision of incentives in a variety of circumstances.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1299.

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Date of creation: Mar 1984
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Lazear, Edward P. "Incentives and Wage Rigidity." American Economic Review, Vol. 74, No. 2, (May 1984), pp. 339-344.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1299
Note: LS
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  1. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
  2. Ross, Stephen A, 1973. "The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal's Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 134-39, May.
  3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1981. "Implicit Contracts, Moral Hazard, and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 301-07, May.
  4. Jerry R. Green & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Hall, Robert E & Lilien, David M, 1979. "Efficient Wage Bargains under Uncertain Supply and Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 868-79, December.
  7. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  8. Robert E. Hall & Edward P. Lazear, 1982. "The Excess Sensitivity of Layoffs and Quits to Demand," NBER Working Papers 0864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Baily, Martin Neil, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50, January.
  10. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  11. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
  12. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  13. Jerry R. Green & Charles M. Kahn, 1981. "Wage-Employment Contracts: Global Results," NBER Working Papers 0675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Peter Kuhn, 1982. "Malfeasance in Long Term Employment Contracts: A New General Model with an Application to Unionism," NBER Working Papers 1045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
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