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Receiprocity and Downward Wage Rigidity

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Abstract

The employment relationship is to a large extent characterized by incomplete contracts, in which workers have a considerable degree of discretion over the choice of their work effort. This discretion at work kicks in the potential importance of “gift exchange” or reciprocity between workers and employers in their employment relationship. Built on the seminal work of Akerlof (1980), this paper adopts a social norm approach to model reciprocity in labor markets and theoretically derives two versions of downward wage rigidity. The first version explains why employers may adopt a high wage policy far above the competitive level. This version is not a novel finding in the existing literature and is mainly served as a benchmark for later comparison in the current paper. Our main contribution lies in the second version in which not nly may employers adopt a high wage policy far above the competitive level, but one can also account for the asymmetric behavior of wages and explain why employers are hesitant about wage cuts in the presence of negative shocks. We argue that this second and stronger version of downward wage rigidity has moved the efficiency wage theory a step forward.

Suggested Citation

  • Chung-cheng Lin & C.C. Yang, 2006. "Receiprocity and Downward Wage Rigidity," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 06-A015, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Handle: RePEc:sin:wpaper:06-a015
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reciprocity; Downward Wage Rigidity; Social Norm; Efficiency Wage;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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