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Why Do Large Firms Willingly Pay High Wages in Developing Countries?

  • Cai, Hongbin
  • Wang, Miaojun
  • Yan, Se

Using a simple game-theoretical model, this paper provides a new explanation for why large firms in developing economies may willingly pay higher wages than market wage rate. We show that large firms can strategically create entry barriers to the modern sector by setting high wage standards. They may do so to reduce competition or to distort the government's resource allocation. Focusing on the latter case, we also show that the size of the primitive sector will be larger than the efficient level, and public resource allocation will be biased in favor of incumbent large businesses despite the benevolent nature of the government. Using a survey of Chinese industrial firms, we find that industrial concentration is positively correlated with the size-wage effect, and such effect is stronger in less developed provinces. These findings are consistent with our theoretical prediction.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 53538.

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Date of creation: Feb 2014
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53538
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  1. Jeremy R. Magruder, 2012. "High Unemployment Yet Few Small Firms: The Role of Centralized Bargaining in South Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 138-66, July.
  2. Strobl, Eric & Thornton, Robert, 2002. "Do Large Employers Pay More in Developing Countries? The Case of Five African Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 660, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Feng, Shuaizhang & Zheng, Bingyong, 2009. "Cherry-Picking in Labor Market with Imperfect Information," IZA Discussion Papers 4309, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Schaffner, Julie Anderson, 1998. "Premiums to employment in larger establishments: evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 81-113, February.
  5. Bai, Chong-En & Lu, Jiangyong & Tao, Zhigang, 2007. "How Does Privatization Work in China?," MPRA Paper 6599, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  7. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
  9. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  10. Zabojnik, Jan & Bernhardt, Dan, 2001. "Corporate Tournaments, Human Capital Acquisition, and the Firm Size-Wage Relation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 693-716, July.
  11. 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.
  12. Velenchik, A.D., 1995. "Government Intervention, Efficiency Wages, and the Employer-Size Wage Effects in Zimbabwe," Papers 95-09, Wellesley College - Department of Economics.
  13. Feng, Shuaizhang & Zheng, Bingyong, 2010. "Imperfect Information, On-the-Job Training, and the Employer Size-Wage Puzzle: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 4998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Brandt, Loren & Van Biesebroeck, Johannes & Zhang, Yifan, 2012. "Creative accounting or creative destruction? Firm-level productivity growth in Chinese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 339-351.
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