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Changes in the Cyclical Sensitivity of Wages in the United States, 1891-1987

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  • Steven G. Allen

Abstract

The conventional wisdom that nominal wages became less sensitive to the business cycle and more autocorrelated after World War II is reexamined here by considering whether these properties are artifacts of the methods used to construct prewar wage series. A replication based on these methods is more cyclically sensitive and exhibits less autocorrelation than the postwar data. Aggregation using variable instead of fixed employment weights also greatly exaggerates the cyclicality of prewar wages. These biases imply that wages are just as sensitive to the cycle today as 100 years ago, perhaps even more so.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven G. Allen, 1991. "Changes in the Cyclical Sensitivity of Wages in the United States, 1891-1987," NBER Working Papers 3854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3854
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. repec:pri:indrel:dsp013f462541m is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Kandil, Magda & Woods, Jeffrey G., 1995. "A cross-industry examination of the Lucas misperceptions model," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 55-76.
    2. Barry Eichengreen., 1993. "International Monetary Arrangements for the 21st Century," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-021, University of California at Berkeley.
    3. Barry Eichengreen., 1994. "History and Reform of the International Monetary System," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-041, University of California at Berkeley.
    4. Maurice Obstfeld, 1993. "The Adjustment Mechanism," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 201-268 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Baffigi, Alberto & Bontempi, Maria Elena & Felice, Emanuele & Golinelli, Roberto, 2015. "The changing relationship between inflation and the economic cycle in Italy: 1861–2012," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 53-70.
    6. Barry Eichengreen., 1994. "Deja Vu All Over Again: Lessons from the Gold Standard for European Monetary Unification," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-032, University of California at Berkeley.
    7. Thomas A. Garrett, 2009. "War And Pestilence As Labor Market Shocks: U.S. Manufacturing Wage Growth 1914-1919," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(4), pages 711-725, October.
    8. Daniel Kaufmann, 2016. "Is Deflation Costly After All? Evidence from Noisy Historical Data," KOF Working papers 16-421, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

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