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Can Policy Interact with Culture? Minimum Wage and the Quality of Labor Relations

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  • Philippe Aghion
  • Yann Algan
  • Pierre Cahuc

Abstract

Can public policy interfere with culture, such as beliefs and norms of cooperation? We investigate this question by evaluating the interactions between the State and the Civil Society, focusing on the labor market. International data shows a negative correlation between union density and the quality of labor relations on one hand, and state regulation of the minimum wage on the other hand. To explain this relation, we develop a model of learning of the quality of labor relations. State regulation crowds out the possibility for workers to experiment negotiation and learn about the true cooperative nature of participants in the labor market. This crowding out effect can give rise to multiple equilibria: a "good" equilibrium characterized by strong beliefs in cooperation, leading to high union density and low state regulation; and a "bad" equilibrium, characterized by distrustful labor relations, low union density and strong state regulation of the minimum wage. We then use surveys on social attitudes and unionization behavior to document the relation between minimum wage legislation and the beliefs about the scope of cooperation in the labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2008. "Can Policy Interact with Culture? Minimum Wage and the Quality of Labor Relations," NBER Working Papers 14327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14327
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bernhard Boockmann, 2010. "The Combined Employment Effects of Minimum Wages and Labor Market Regulation—a Meta-Analysis," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 61(Supplemen), pages 167-188.
    2. Blake, Hélène & Sangnier, Marc, 2011. "Senior activity rate, retirement incentives, and labor relations," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 5, pages 1-32.
    3. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan, 2010. "Social capital access and entrepreneurship," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 821-833, December.
    4. Gaston, Noel & Rajaguru, Gulasekaran, 2013. "International migration and the welfare state revisited," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 90-101.
    5. Dan Andrews & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Åsa Johansson, 2011. "Towards a Better Understanding of the Informal Economy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 873, OECD Publishing.
    6. Pierre Cahuc & Yann Algan, 2009. "Civic Virtue and Labor Market Institutions," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 111-145, January.
    7. Anna Lukiyanova & Nina Vishnevskaya, 2015. "The Decentralization of Minimum Wage Setting in Russia Economies," HSE Working papers WP BRP 90/EC/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    8. Eugenia Fotoniata & Thomas Moutos, 2010. "Greece: Neglect and Resurgence of Minimum Wage Policy," Chapters,in: The Minimum Wage Revisited in the Enlarged EU, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Giavazzi, Francesco & Schiantarelli, Fabio & Serafinelli, Michel, 2009. "Culture, Policies and Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 4558, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Fernández, Raquel, 2010. "Does Culture Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7965, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Amy Peng & Louis N. Christofides, 2009. "Real Wage Chronology," Working Papers 011, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
    12. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-3252, December.
    13. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2013. "Unemployment Insurance And Cultural Transmission: Theory And Application To European Unemployment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1320-1347, December.
    14. Paolo Pinotti, 2009. "Trust and Regulation: Addressing a Cultural Bias," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 721, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
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    16. repec:taf:rjapxx:v:18:y:2013:i:2:p:271-289 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Thomas Breda, 2010. "Firms' rents, workers' bargaining power and the union wage premium in France," Working Papers halshs-00564903, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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