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Unemployment, Labor Market Transitions, and Residual Wage Dispersion

  • Fitzenberger, Bernd
  • Garloff, Alfred

It is commonplace in the debate on Germany?s labor market problems to argue that high unemployment and low wage dispersion are related. This paper analyses the relationship between unemployment and residual wage dispersion for individuals with comparable attributes. In the conventional neoclassical point of view, wages are determined by the marginal product of the workers. Accordingly, increases in union minimum wages result in a decline of residual wage dispersion and higher unemployment. A competing view regards wage dispersion as the outcome of search frictions and the associated monopsony power of the firms. Accordingly, an increase in search frictions causes both higher unemployment and higher wage dispersion. The empirical analysis attempts to discriminate between the two hypotheses for West Germany analyzing the relationship between wage dispersion and both the level of unemployment as well as the transition rates between different labor market states. The findings are not completely consistent with either theory. However, as predicted by search theory, one robust result is that unemployment by cells is not negatively correlated with the within?cell wage dispersion.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 05-04.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:2895
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  1. Gruetter, Max & Lalive, Rafael, 2004. "The Importance of Firms in Wage Determination," IZA Discussion Papers 1367, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Rosholm, Michael & Svarer, Michael, 2004. "Endogenous wage dispersion in a search-matching model," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(5), pages 623-645, October.
  3. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
  4. Garloff, Alfred & Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten, 2003. "Beschäftigung und Lohnstrukturen nach Qualifikationen und Altersgruppen: Eine empirische Analyse auf Basis der IAB-Beschäftigtenstichprobe," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-75, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. Bontemps, C. & Robin, J.M. & van den Berg, G.J., 1998. "Equilibrium Search with Continuous Productivity Dispersion: Theory and Non-Parametric Estimation," Papers 98-07, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  6. John M. Abowd & Robert H. Creecy & Francis Kramarz, 2002. "Computing Person and Firm Effects Using Linked Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Lauer, Charlotte, 2003. "Education and Unemployment: A French-German Comparison," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-34, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
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