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Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression

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  • Ben S. Bernanke
  • Kevin Carey

Abstract

Building on earlier work by Eichengreen and Sachs, we use data for 22 countries to study the role of wage stickiness in propagating the Great Depression. Recent research suggests that monetary shocks, transmitted internationally by the gold standard, were a major cause of the Depression. Accordingly, we use money supplies and other aggregate demand shifters as instruments to identify aggregate supply relationships. We find that nominal wages adjusted quite slowly to falling prices, and that the resulting increases in real wages depressed output. These findings leave open the question of why wages were so inertial in the face of extreme labor market conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben S. Bernanke & Kevin Carey, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 5439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5439
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Russell Cooper, 1990. "Predetermined Wages and Prices and the Impact of Expansionary Government Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 205-214.
    2. Eichengreen, Barry & Hatton, Tim, 1988. "Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt7bw188gk, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    3. Ben Bemanke & Harold James, 1991. "The Gold Standard, Deflation, and Financial Crisis in the Great Depression: An International Comparison," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 33-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
    5. Robert E. Hall, 1980. "Employment Fluctuations and Wage Rigidity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 91-142.
    6. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, May.
    7. Choudhri, Ehsan U & Kochin, Levis A, 1980. "The Exchange Rate and the International Transmission of Business Cycle Disturbances: Some Evidence from the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(4), pages 565-574, November.
    8. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    9. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
    10. Walter Galenson & Arnold Zellner, 1957. "International Comparison of Unemployment Rates," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement and Behavior of Unemployment, pages 439-584 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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