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Pay Cuts And Morale : A Test Of Downward Nominal Rigidity

  • Smith, Jennifer C.

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick,)

This paper tests the ‘morale’ theory of downward nominal wage rigidity. This theory relies on workers disliking nominal pay cuts : cuts should make workers less happy. We investigate this using panel data on individual employees’ pay and satisfaction. We con…rm that nominal cuts do make workers less happy than if their pay had not fallen. But we find no difference in the effect on happiness of cuts and pay freezes. This represents important information about the nature of wage rigidity in practice and the applicability of the morale theory. The morale theory may be able to explain generalised downward wage rigidity, but apparently fails to explain downward nominal rigidity.

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File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp649.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 649.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:649
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Web page: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/

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  1. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20131, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. McLaughlin, Kenneth J., 1994. "Rigid wages?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 383-414, December.
  3. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Bound & Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "The Extent of Measurement Error In Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make A Right?," NBER Working Papers 2885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Paul J. Devereux, 1999. "The Extent and Consequences of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity," NBER Working Papers 7236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bewley, Truman F, 1995. "A Depressed Labor Market as Explained by Participants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 250-54, May.
  8. David E. Lebow & David J. Stockton & William L. Wascher, 1995. "Inflation, nominal wage rigidity, and the efficiency of labor markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. John Bound & Charles Brown & Greg J. Duncan & Willard L Rodgers, 1989. "Measurement Error In Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Surveys: Results From Two Validation Studies," NBER Working Papers 2884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  11. Smith, Jennifer C, 2000. "Nominal Wage Rigidity in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C176-95, March.
  12. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 1999. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 106-134, February.
  13. Burda, M. & Güth, W. & Kirchsteiger, G. & Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 1998. "Employment Duration and Resistance to Wage Reductions : Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper 1998-073, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  14. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1993. "Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Working Paper Series 380, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  15. Bewley, Truman F., 1998. "Why not cut pay?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 459-490, May.
  16. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Shafir, Eldar & Diamond, Peter & Tversky, Amos, 1997. "Money Illusion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 341-74, May.
  18. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  19. Kahn, Shulamit, 1997. "Evidence of Nominal Wage Stickiness from Microdata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 993-1008, December.
  20. Peter Howitt, 2002. "Looking Inside the Labor Market: A Review Article," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 125-138, March.
  21. repec:dgr:kubcen:1998073 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
  23. Blinder, Alan S & Choi, Don H, 1990. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1003-15, November.
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