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Real Wages and the Business Cycle: Accounting for Worker and Firm Heterogeneity

  • Anabela Carneiro
  • Paulo Guimarães
  • Pedro Portugal

Using a longitudinal matched employer-employee data set for Portugal over the 1986-2005 period, this study analyzes the heterogeneity in wages responses to aggregate labor market conditions for newly hired workers and existing workers. Accounting for both worker and firm heterogeneity, the data support the hypothesis that entry wages are much more procyclical than current wages. A one-point increase in the unemployment rate decreases wages of newly hired male workers by around 2.8% and by just 1.4% for workers in continuing jobs. Since we estimate the fixed effects, we were able to show that unobserved heterogeneity plays a non-trivial role in the cyclicality of wages. In particular, worker fixed effects of new hires and separating workers behave countercyclically, whereas firm fixed effects exhibit a procyclical pattern. Finally, the results reveal, for all workers, a wage-productivity elasticity of 1.2, slightly above the one-for-one response predicted by the Mortensen-Pissarides model.

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Paper provided by Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department in its series Working Papers with number w200910.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ptu:wpaper:w200910
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  1. Katharine G. Abraham & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1215-1264, September.
  2. Guimaraes, Paulo & Portugal, Pedro, 2009. "A Simple Feasible Alternative Procedure to Estimate Models with High-Dimensional Fixed Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3935, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1992. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias," NBER Working Papers 4202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Beaudry, Paul & DiNardo, John, 1991. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 665-88, August.
  5. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2007. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0839, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Brandolini, Andrea, 1995. " In Search of a Stylised Fact: Do Real Wages Exhibit a Consistent Pattern of Cyclical Variability?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(2), pages 103-63, June.
  7. Christian Haefke & Marcus Sonntag & Thijs van Rens, 2007. "Wage rigidity and job creation," Economics Working Papers 1047, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2012.
  8. Olivier Blanchard, 2007. "Adjustment within the euro. The difficult case of Portugal," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, April.
  9. Barlevy, Gadi, 2001. "Why Are the Wages of Job Changers So Procyclical?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 837-78, October.
  10. Keane, Michael & Moffitt, Robert & Runkle, David, 1988. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Estimating the Impact of Heterogeneity with Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1232-66, December.
  11. Robert A. Hart, 2006. "Worker-Job Matches, Job Mobility and Real Wage Cyclicality," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(290), pages 287-298, 05.
  12. Ana Rute Cardoso & Pedro Portugal, 2005. "Contractual Wages and the Wage Cushion under Different Bargaining Settings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 875-902, October.
  13. Bowlus, Audra J, 1995. "Matching Workers and Jobs: Cyclical Fluctuations in Match Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 335-50, April.
  14. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  15. Pedro S. Martins, 2007. "Heterogeneity In Real Wage Cyclicality," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(5), pages 684-698, November.
  16. Shin, Donggyun, 1994. "Cyclicality of real wages among young men," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-142, October.
  17. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2006. "Real wage cyclicality of job stayers, within-company job movers, and between-company job movers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 105-119, October.
  18. Robert E. Hall, 2003. "Modern Theory of Unemployment Fluctuations: Empirics and Policy Applications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 145-150, May.
  19. Paul J. Devereux, 2001. "The Cyclicality of real wages within employer-employee matches," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(4), pages 835-850, July.
  20. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  21. Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-89, August.
  22. Arthur M. Okun, 1973. "Upward Mobility in a High-Pressure Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(1), pages 207-262.
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