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Reference-Dependence and Labor-Market Fluctuations

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  • Kfir Eliaz
  • Rani Spiegler

Abstract

We incorporate reference-dependent worker behavior into a search-matching model of the labor market, in which firms have all the bargaining power and productivity follows a log-linear AR(1) process. Motivated by Akerlof (1982) and Bewley (1999), we assume that existing workers' output falls stochastically from its normal level when their wage falls below a "reference point", which (following Kőszegi and Rabin (2006)) is equal to their lagged-expected wage. We formulate the model game-theoretically and show that it has a unique subgame perfect equilibrium that exhibits the following properties: existing workers experience downward wage rigidity, as well as destruction of output following negative shocks due to layoffs or loss of morale; newly hired workers earn relatively flexible wages, but not as much as in the benchmark without reference dependence; market tightness is more volatile than under this benchmark. We relate these findings to the debate over the "Shimer puzzle" (Shimer (2005)).

Suggested Citation

  • Kfir Eliaz & Rani Spiegler, 2013. "Reference-Dependence and Labor-Market Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 19085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19085 Note: EFG LS
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    Cited by:

    1. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2014. "Managing Intrinsic Motivation in a Long-Run Relationship," CEPR Discussion Papers 10056, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Antonio Rosato, 2016. "Selling substitute goods to loss-averse consumers: limited availability, bargains, and rip-offs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(3), pages 709-733, August.
    3. Fongoni, Marco & Dickson, Alex, 2015. "A Theory of Wage Setting Behavior," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-57, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Ahrens, Steffen & Pirschel, Inske & Snower, Dennis J., 2014. "A theory of wage adjustment under loss aversion," Kiel Working Papers 1977, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    5. Vincent Boitier, 2013. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: a Note on the Role of Reference Points," Working Papers hal-00878107, HAL.
    6. Holger Herz & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2013. "Market experience is a reference point in judgments of fairness," ECON - Working Papers 128, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    7. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:165-172 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2014. "Reference Dependence and Labor Market Fluctuations," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 159-200.
    9. Fongoni, Marco & Dickson, Alex, 2015. "A Theory of Wage Setting Behavior," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-57, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    10. David Freeman, 2013. "Revealed Preference Foundations of Expectations-Based Reference-Dependence," Discussion Papers dp13-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    11. von Wangenheim, Jonas, 2017. "English versus Vickrey Auctions with Loss Averse Bidders," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 48, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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