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Paying more than necessary? The wage cushion in Germany

  • Jung, Sven
  • Schnabel, Claus

Using a representative establishment data set for Germany, we show that more than 40 percent of plants covered by collective agreements pay wages above the level stipulated in the agreement, which gives rise to a wage cushion between the levels of actual and contractual wages. Cross-sectional and fixed-effects estimations for the period 2001-2006 indicate that the wage cushion mainly varies with the profit situation of the plant and with indicators of labour shortage and the business cycle. While plants bound by multi-employer sectoral agreements seem to pay wage premiums in order to overcome the restrictions imposed by the rather centralized system of collective bargaining in Germany, plants which make use of single-employer agreements are significantly less likely to have wage cushions.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 63.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:faulre:63
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  1. Muysken, Joan & van Veen, Tom, 1996. " Efficiency Wages and Local Wage Bargaining," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(1), pages 119-27, March.
  2. Bastos, Paulo & Monteiro, Natália P. & Straume, Odd Rune, 2009. "Firm heterogeneity and wages in unionised labour markets: Theory and evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 440-450, August.
  3. Gesine Stephan & Knut Gerlach, 2005. "Wage settlements and wage setting: results from a multi-level model," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(20), pages 2297-2306.
  4. Hübler, Olaf & Jirjahn, Uwe, 2001. "Works Councils and Collective Bargaining in Germany: The Impact on Productivity and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 322, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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.
  6. Schnabel, Claus & Zagelmeyer, Stefan & Kohaut, Susanne, 2005. "Collective bargaining structure and its determinants : an empirical analysis with British and German establishment data," IAB Discussion Paper 200516, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  7. F. W. Gould, 1967. "The Dynamics of Wage‐Drift," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 43(3), pages 371-394, 09.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Kohaut, Susanne & Schnabel, Claus, 2003. "Verbreitung, Ausmaß und Determinanten der übertariflichen Entlohnung," Discussion Papers 23, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  11. Addison, John T & Schnabel, Claus & Wagner, Joachim, 2001. "Work Councils in Germany: Their Effects on Establishment Performance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 659-94, October.
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