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Unexpected Inflation, Real Wages, and Employment Determination in Union Contracts

  • David Card

This paper presents new microeconometric evidence on the relevance of nominal contracting for employment determination in the unionized sector. Real wages in long term union contracts contain an unanticipated component that reflects unexpected changes in prices and the degree of indexation. These unexpected wage components provide a convenient tool for separating the causal effects of wages on employment from other endogenous sources of employment and wage variation. The empirical analysis of employment and wage outcomes among collective agreements in the Canadian manufacturing sector reveals that employment and wages are only weakly related. When unexpected changes in real wages are used as an instrumental variable for the contract wage, however, employment is consistently negatively related to wages. The results imply that the institutional structure of wage determination has important effects on the cyclical characteristics and persistence of employment changes.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2768.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2768.

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Date of creation: Nov 1988
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Publication status: published as The American Economic Review, Vol. 80, No. 4, pp. 669-688, (September 1990)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2768
Note: LS
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  1. Louis N. Christofides & Andrew J. Oswald, 1991. "Efficient and Inefficient Employment Outcomes: A Study Based on Canadian Data," NBER Working Papers 3648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brown, James N & Ashenfelter, Orley, 1986. "Testing the Efficiency of Employment Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S40-S87, June.
  3. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 15-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Whitney Newey & Harvey Rosen, 1987. "Wages and Hours: Estimating Vector Autoregressions with Panel Data," Working Papers 602, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Geary, Patrick T & Kennan, John, 1982. "The Employment-Real Wage Relationship: An International Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 854-71, August.
  6. John M. Abowd, 1987. "Collective Bargaining and the Division of the Value of the Enterprise," NBER Working Papers 2137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Newey, Whitney & Rosen, Harvey S, 1988. "Estimating Vector Autoregressions with Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1371-95, November.
  8. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
  9. Phelps, Edmund S & Taylor, John B, 1977. "Stabilizing Powers of Monetary Policy under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 163-90, February.
  10. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
  11. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 1635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Kennan, John, 1988. "An Econometric Analysis of Fluctuations in Aggregate Labor Supply and Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 317-33, March.
  13. David Card, 1988. "Strikes and Wages: A Test of a Signalling Model," NBER Working Papers 2550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-38, May.
  15. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  16. L Christofides & A Oswald, 1991. "Efficient and Inefficient Employment Outcomes: A Study Based on Canadian Contract Data," CEP Discussion Papers dp0041, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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