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Minimally Altruistic Wages and Unemployment in a Matching Model

  • Julio J. Rotemberg

This paper presents a model in which firms recruit both unemployed and employed workers by posting vacancies. Firms act monopsonistically and set wages to retain their existing workers as well as to attract new ones. The model differs from Burdett and Mortensen (1998) in that its assumptions ensure that there is an equilibrium where all firms pay the same wage. The paper analyzes the response of this wage to exogenous changes in the marginal revenue product of labor. The paper finds parameters for which the response of wages is modest relative to the response of employment, as appears to be the case in U.S. data and shows that the insistence by workers that firms act with a minimal level of altruism can be a source of dampened wage responses. The paper also considers a setting where this minimal level of altruism is subject to fluctuations and shows that, for certain parameters, the model can explain both the standard deviations of employment and wages and the correlation between these two series over time.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13755.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Rotemberg, Julio J., 2008. "Minimally altruistic wages and unemployment in a matching model with monopsony," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(Supplemen), pages S97-S110, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13755
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  1. Julio J. Rotemberg, 1999. "A Heuristic Method for Extracting Smooth Trends from Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 7439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Levine, David I, 1993. "Fairness, Markets, and Ability to Pay: Evidence from Compensation Executives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1241-59, December.
  3. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 1906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Krause, Michael U. & Lubik, Thomas A., 2006. "The cyclical upgrading of labor and on-the-job search," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 459-477, August.
  5. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877, 05.
  6. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1989. "Equilibrium Wage Differentials and Employer Size," Discussion Papers 860, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Cheron, A., 2002. "Labor-market search and real business cycles: Nash bargaining vs. fair wage," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 279-285, October.
  8. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  9. Hall, Robert E, 1997. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations and the Allocation of Time," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S223-50, January.
  10. Katharine G. Abraham & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1215-1264, September.
  11. Alan B. Krueger & Alexandre Mas, 2003. "Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires," NBER Working Papers 9524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  14. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
  15. Silva, José Ignacio & Toledo, Manuel, 2009. "Labor Turnover Costs And The Cyclical Behavior Of Vacancies And Unemployment," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(S1), pages 76-96, May.
  16. Dale Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2007. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 327-347, July.
  17. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  18. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  19. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  20. Jean-Pierre Danthine & Andre Kurmann, 2004. "Fair Wages in a New Keynesian Model of the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(1), pages 107-142, January.
  21. Fabrice Collard & David de la Croix, 2000. "Gift Exchange and the Business Cycle: The Fair Wage Strikes Back," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 166-193, January.
  22. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Donaldson, John B., 1990. "Efficiency wages and the business cycle puzzle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1275-1301, November.
  23. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  24. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  25. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Family finances in the U.S.: recent evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-24.
  26. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
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