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Estimating a Wage Curve for Britain 1973-1990

  • David G. Blanchflower
  • Andrew J. Oswald

Following Phillip's original work on the UK, applied research on unemployment and wages has been dominated by the analysis of highly aggregated time-series data sets. However, it has proved difficult with such methods to uncover statistically reliable models. This paper adopts a different approach. It uses microeconomic data on 175,000 British workers from 1973-1990 to provide evidence for the existence of a negatively sloped relationship linking the level of pay to the local rate of unemployment. This 'wage curve' is found to have an elasticity of approximately -0.1. Contrary to the Phillips Curve, no autoregression is found in wages. The paper casts doubt on standard ideas in macroeconomics, regional economics and labour economics.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4770.

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Date of creation: Jun 1994
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Publication status: published as Economic Journal, September 1994, Vol. 104, No. 426, pp. 1025-1043.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4770
Note: LS
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  1. David Blanchflower & A Oswald, 1993. "International Wage Curve," CEP Discussion Papers dp0116, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    • David G. Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald, 1995. "International Wage Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 145-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Phelps, Edmund S, 1992. "Consumer Demand and Equilibrium Unemployment in a Working Model of the Customer-Market Incentive-Wage Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1003-32, August.
  3. Greenhalgh, Christine A, 1980. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Great Britain: Is Marriage an Equal Opportunity?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 751-75, December.
  4. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
  5. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "The Wage Curve," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026202375x, June.
  6. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  7. Richard B. Freeman, 1990. "Employment and Earnings of Disadvantaged Young Men in a Labor Shortage Economy," NBER Working Papers 3444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nickell, Stephen J, 1987. "Why Is Wage Inflation in Britain So High?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(1), pages 103-28, February.
  9. Blanchflower, D. & Oswald, A. & Garrett, M., 1988. "Insider Power In Wage Determination," Papers 319, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  10. Woodford, Michael, 1992. "Seven schools of macroeconomic thought by E.S. Phelps : A book review," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 391-398, April.
  11. Holmlund, Bertil & Zetterberg, Johnny, 1991. "Insider effects in wage determination : Evidence from five countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 1009-1034, July.
  12. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  13. Lindbeck, Assar, 1992. "Macroeconomic theory and the labor market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 209-235, April.
  14. Richard Jackman & Richard Layard & S Savouri, 1990. "Mismatch: A Framework for Thought," CEP Discussion Papers dp0001, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. Alan Manning, 1992. "Wage Bargaining and the Phillips Curve: The Identification and Specification of Aggregate Wage Equations," CEP Discussion Papers dp0062, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  16. Blanchflower, David G, 1991. "Fear, Unemployment and Pay Flexibility," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(406), pages 483-96, May.
  17. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  18. Christofides, Louis N & Oswald, Andrew J, 1992. "Real Wage Determination and Rent-Sharing in Collective Bargaining Agreements," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 985-1002, August.
  19. Blackaby, D H & Manning, D N, 1987. "Regional Earnings Revisited," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 55(2), pages 158-83, June.
  20. Phelps, Edmund S, 1990. " Effects of Productivity, Total Domestic-Product Demand and "Incentive Wages" on Unemployment in a Non-monetary Customer-Market Model of the Small Open Economy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 92(2), pages 353-67.
  21. Topel, Robert H, 1986. "Local Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S111-43, June.
  22. Blackaby, D H & Manning, D N, 1990. "The North-South Divide: Questions of Existence and Stability?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 510-27, June.
  23. David G. Blanchflower & Lisa M. Lynch, 1992. "Training at Work: A Comparison of U.S. and British Youths," NBER Working Papers 4037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Moulton, Brent R, 1987. "Diagnostics for Group Effects in Regression Analysis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(2), pages 275-82, April.
  25. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  26. Edin, P.A. & Holmlund, B. & Ostros, T., 1992. "Wage Behavior and Labor Market Programs in Sweden: Evidence from Micro Data," Papers 1993-1, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  27. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
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