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Plant Closings, Labor Demand and the Value of the Firm


  • Daniel S. Hamermesh


This study postulates an internal labor market in which workers accumulate firm-specific human capital that raises the value of the firm and insulates it to some extent from the vagaries of product demand that might result in its closing. Negative product-market shocks reduce wage growth and increase the probability of the firm closing. The model also predicts a U-shaped relation between the probability of the plant closing and the length of a worker's tenure, a proxy for firm-specific human investment. PSID data for 1977 through 1981 are used to produce weighted-probit estimates of the parameters of an equation describing the probability of displacement. The results support most of the predictions of the model, but similarly specified equations describing the probability of permanent layoff indicate that a theory of plant closings must differ from that of layoffs. The parameter estimates are used to infer an analogue to the firm's elasticity of demand for labor and to deduce the wage reduction necessary to avoid an increase in the probability of a plant closing when a negative demand shock occurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1986. "Plant Closings, Labor Demand and the Value of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 1839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1839
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Feldstein, Martin & Poterba, James, 1984. "Unemployment insurance and reservation wages," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 141-167.
    2. Colin Lawrence & Robert Z. Lawrence, 1985. "Manufacturing Wage Dispersion: An End Game Interpretation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(1), pages 47-116.
    3. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1981. "Causes and Consequences of Layoffs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(2), pages 270-296, April.
    4. Daniel J. B. Mitchell, 1982. "Recent Union Contract Concessions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(1), pages 165-204.
    5. Raisian, John, 1983. "Contracts, Job Experience, and Cyclical Labor Market Adjustments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 152-170, April.
    6. Jacob Mincer & Boyan Jovanovic, 1981. "Labor Mobility and Wages," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in Labor Markets, pages 21-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    8. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1987. "The Costs of Worker Displacement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 51-75.
    9. Katharine G. Abraham & James L. Medoff, 1984. "Length of Service and Layoffs in Union and Nonunion Work Groups," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(1), pages 87-97, October.
    10. Rosen, Sherwin, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 1144-1175, September.
    11. Martin Neil Baily, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50.
    12. Charles Brown, 1980. "Equalizing Differences in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(1), pages 113-134.
    13. 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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