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Bargained Wages, Wage Drift and the Design of the Wage Setting System

  • Ana Rute Cardoso
  • Pedro Portugal

This paper aims at answering the question: How does a typically European bargaining system - with collective bargaining, extension mechanisms and national minimum wage - coexist with low unemployment rate and high wage flexibility? A unique data set on workers, firms and collective bargaining contracts in the Portuguese economy is used to analyze the determinants of both the bargained wage and the wage drift. Results indicate that wage drift stretches the returns to every worker and firm attribute, whereas it shrinks the returns to union bargaining power. Therefore, firm-specific arrangements, in the form of wage drift, partly offset collective bargaining, granting firms a high degree of freedom when setting wages. Union bargaining power raises the overall wage level, but lowers the returns on worker attributes, an outcome of the egalitarian policy pursued.

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Paper provided by Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department in its series Working Papers with number w200318.

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Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ptu:wpaper:w200318
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  1. Joop Hartog & Edwin Leuven & Coen N. Teulings, 2000. "Wages and the Bargaining Regime in a Corporist Setting: The Netherlands," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-013/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Ordine, Patrizia, 1995. "Wage drift and minimum contractual wage: Theoretical interrelationship and empirical evidence for Italy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 335-357, December.
  3. Hibbs, Douglas Jr. & Locking, Hakan, 1996. "Wage compression, wage drift and wage inflation in Sweden," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 109-141, September.
  4. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:3:p:985-1002 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1992. "Union Egalitarianism as Income Insurance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(235), pages 295-310, August.
  6. Freeman, Richard Barry, 1984. "Longitudinal Analyses of the Effects of Trade Unions," Scholarly Articles 4631951, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  8. David Fairris, 2003. "Unions and wage inequality in Mexico," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 481-497, April.
  9. Richard B. Freeman, 1978. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," NBER Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Booth, Alison L, 1984. "A Public Choice Model of Trade Union Behaviour and Membership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 883-98, December.
  11. David Fairris, 2003. "Unions and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 481-497, April.
  12. Lemieux, Thomas, 1998. "Estimating the Effects of Unions on Wage Inequality in a Panel Data Model with Comparative Advantage and Nonrandom Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 261-91, April.
  13. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-79, July.
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