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Insider Power in Wage Determination

  • David G. Blanchflower
  • Andrew J. Oswald
  • Mario D. Garrett

The paper argues that wage determination is best seen as a kind of rent sharing in which workers' bargaining power is influenced by conditions in the external labour market. It uses British establishment data from 1984 to show that pay depends upon a blend of insider pressure (including the employer's financial performance and oligopolistic position) and outsider pressure (including external wages and unemployment). Lester's feasible 'range' of wages appears typically to be between 8% and 22% of pay. Estimates of the unemployment elasticity of the wage lie in a narrow band around -0.1.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3179.

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Date of creation: Nov 1989
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Economica, Vol. 57, pp. 143-170, (1990).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3179
Note: LS
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  1. Gregory, R G, 1986. "Wages Policy and Unemployment in Australia," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S53-74, Supplemen.
  2. Nickell, S. & Wadhwani, S., 1989. "Insider Forces And Wage Determination," Economics Series Working Papers 9972, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Holmlund, B. & Skedinger, P., 1988. "Wage Bargaining And Wage Drift: Evidence From Swedish Wood Industry," Papers 1988g, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  4. Stewart, Mark B, 1987. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements, Closed Shops and Relative Pay," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 140-56, March.
  5. Blanchflower, D. & Oswald, A. & Garrett, M., 1988. "Insider Power In Wage Determination," Papers 319, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  6. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
  7. Alan B. Krueger & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Reflections on the Inter-Industry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 1968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-89, August.
  9. Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "The Microeconomic Theory of the Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 576-95, September.
  10. Solow, Robert M, 1985. " Insiders and Outsiders in Wage Determination," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 411-28.
  11. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen, 1986. "Unemployment in Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S121-69, Supplemen.
  12. Oswald, Andrew J & Turnbull, Peter J, 1985. "Pay and Employment Determination in Britain: What Are Labour," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 80-97, Summer.
  13. Pencavel, John, 1985. " Wages and Employment under Trade Unionism: Microeconomic Models and Macroeconomic Applications," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 197-225.
  14. Mcconnell, S., 1988. "Strikes, Wages And Private Information," Papers 10, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  15. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  16. 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.
  17. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 1988. "Cooperation, Harassment, and Involuntary Unemployment: An Insider-Outsider Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 167-88, March.
  18. Rowlatt, Penelope A, 1987. "A Model of Wage Bargaining," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(4), pages 347-72, November.
  19. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1984. "Involuntary Unemployment as a Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1351-64, November.
  20. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 1986. "Wage Setting, Unemployment, and Insider-Outsider Relations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 235-39, May.
  21. Holmlund, B. & Skedinger, P., 1988. "Wage Bargaining And Wage Drift: Evidence From The Swedish Wood Industry," Papers 419, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  22. George E. Johnson, 1986. "Work Rules, Featherbedding, and Pareto-Optimal Union Management Bargaining," NBER Working Papers 1820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Interindustry Wage Differences and Industry Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 2014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Carruth, Alan & Oswald, Andrew, 1987. "Wage Inflexibility in Britain," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(1), pages 59-78, February.
  25. Gottfries, Nils & Horn, Henrik, 1987. "Wage Formation and the Persistence of Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388), pages 877-84, December.
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