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Friedhelm Pfeiffer

Friedhelm Pfeiffer

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Friedhelm Pfeiffer

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  1. Reasons for Wage Rigidity in GermanyWolfgang Franz and Friedhelm Pfeiffer, Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and University of MannheimNational Bank of Belgium, Brussels, October 13, 2006

  2. Deviations from trend, yearly numbers (Hodrick-Prescott-Filter); Pfeiffer (2003), p. 25 (West Germany 1975 – 1995) Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  3. Different Methods in Economics • Theory • Empirical Analysis • Experiments • Econometrics with official data • Surveys Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  4. „If molecules could talk, would chemists refuse to listen?” Blinder et al. (1998) Advantages and Disadvantages of Surveys • Asking about the relevance of various theories • Item non response • Variety of firms • Do people mean what they say? • … • … Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  5. Research Goals of the German Survey • Union bargaining power, profit maximization (efficiency wages, implicit contracts, ..), institutions • To shed some light on the relevance of various explanations for wage rigidity from the viewpoint of firms in Germany, taking institutions into account • To compare our results with evidence from the USA Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  6. Summary • Economic theories receive support from respondents • Efficiency wage explanations (shirking, turnover, adverse selection, negative signals, specific human capital) are supported to different degrees • Implicit contract theory & union bargaining power do matter for (low) skilled workers • Implicit contract theory & union bargaining power received more support in Germany (rel. to USA) Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  7. The German Survey Wage Flexibility and Employment Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  8. The Survey, Conducted in Spring 2000 by ZEW • 801 firms successfully interviewed, from 5,160, randomly selected from firm population of 160,000 (stratified by number of employees and sector) • response rate: 16 percent • chemical industry; metal industry, electrical goods industry and machinery; wholesale and retail trade; finance and insurance; firm related services and other sectors • standardized written questionnaire Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  9. Firm related services (28.1) Chemistry (12.8) Industry (29.3) Wholesale and retail trade (15.7) Finance and insurance (10.8) 25 65 40 56 61.2 44 2,7 9 3,9 3,3 3,5 4,2 6,4 3 12,2 8,9 17,7 10,7 11,4 10 14,8 7,3 4,7 10,7 54,6 13 29,1 24,4 12,9 31,4 Institutions: Type of WageContracts (%) All (#785) I. Collective labour union contracts II. Firm specific labour union contracts III. Voluntary application of labour union contracts IV. Individual contract, firm level V. Individual bilateral contracts Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  10. Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  11. Introduction • The introductory statement: “Even in economically bad times or in times of high unemployment, firms seldom reduce workers’ pay, although that may help them survive and save working places. Please assess the following explanations as ‘not important’, ‘of minor importance’, ‘moderately important’ or ‘very important’.” Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  12. Categories of Answers and Average Score 1 2 3 4 Not important at all Of minor importance Moderately important Very important Average Score 2,5Support Average Score 3,0Strong support Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  13. Selected Literature • Bewley T.F. (1999), Why wages Don’t Fall During a Recession, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. • Blinder A.S. and Choi D.H. (1990), A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness, Quarterly Journal of Economics. • Campbell C. M. and Kamlani K. S. (1997), The Reason for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms, Quarterly Journal of Economics. • Franz W. and Pfeiffer F. (2005), A Note on Labor Contracts and Wage Rigidities: An Empirical Investigation Using Survey Data, Applied Economics Quarterly. Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  14. Wage Rigidity from the Viewpoint of Firms in Germany Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  15. US firms German firms 3,18 2,94 3,5 3 2,40 2,40 2,5 2,05 2 1,5 1,35 1 Statement one: “Labour union contracts prevent wages from being cut.” Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  16. German firms US firms 3,5 2,93 2,92 3 2,79 2,60 2,63 2,59 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement two:Workers dislike unpredictable changes in income. Therefore, workers and firms reach an implicit understanding that wages will neither fall in recessions nor rise in expansions.” (Implicit contract theory) Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  17. German firms US firms 3,5 2,99 2,90 2,88 2,83 2,82 3 2,77 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement three:“A cut in wages would decrease workers’ effort, resulting in less output or poorer service.” (Shirking) Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  18. 3,5 3 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement four:”A cut in wages would increase the number of workers who quit, increasing the cost of hiring and training new workers in the future.” (Turnover costs) US firms German firms 2,97 2,96 2,85 2,73 2,56 2,44 Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  19. 3,5 US firms 3 German firms 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement five:“Workers who have been with the firm for a long time have learned how the firm operates and have formed relationships with co-workers and clients. A cut in wages may cause some of your long-time employees to leave, and their replacements would not have this inside knowledge of the firm.” (Specific human capital) 3,44 3,08 2,85 2,50 2,24 2,18 Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  20. 3,5 3 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement six:”If your firm were to cut wages, your most productive workers might leave, whereas if you lay off workers, you can lay off the least productive workers.” (Adverse selection) German firms US firms 3,27 3,13 3,10 2,84 2,80 2,73 Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  21. 3,5 3 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement seven:“If your firm were to cut wages, people in the community would hear about it, making it more difficult to hire workers in the future.” (Negative signals for new hires) German firms US firms 3,40 3,10 2,46 2,36 2,30 2,20 Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  22. German firms US firms 3,5 3 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement eight:“If your firm were to discharge some of its current workers and to hire new workers at a lower wage, the workers who remain would harass and refuse to cooperate with the newly hired workers.” (Harrassment) 2,45 2,45 2,35 2,16 2,05 1,82 Skilled Less skilled Highly skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  23. German firms US firms 3,5 3 2,5 2 1,5 1 Statement nine:“Independent of the effect of wage cuts on profits, people in management positions would be reluctant to cut wages in order to avoid employees´ resentment toward them.” (corporate culture, gift exchange?) 3,10 3,08 3,04 2,52 2,48 2,23 Skilled Friedhelm Pfeiffer Less skilled Highly skilled

  24. Additional Pieces of Analysis • Bivariate tests • Ordered probit models for each statement and each group • Correlation analysis between the statements and the groups • Study of differences between type of contracts  Support for economic explanations is not very sensitive to the chosen type of wage contract Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  25. Conclusions Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  26. Conclusions • Various explanations receive support from respondents in firms • The influence of institutions on respondents support seems to be at best moderate • Future surveys can be improved • What can policy do, if wage rigidity is in the interest of firms and their employees? Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  27. „It is hard to take a detached view on wage rigidity, because it requires facing unpleasant truths; the world is imperfect, people often suffer for no good reasons, and it is not clear what to do about it.“ Truman F. Bewley (1999:2). Friedhelm Pfeiffer

  28. Thank you for your attention! Friedhelm Pfeiffer