NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain

Robert E. Hall, Paul R. Milgrom

NBER Working Paper No. 11245
Issued in April 2005
NBER Program(s):   EFG   LS

When a job-seeker and an employer meet, find a prospective surplus, and bargain over the wage, conditions in the outside labor market, including especially unemployment, may be irrelevant. The job-seeker's threat point in the bargain is to delay bargaining, not to terminate bargaining and resume search at other employers. Similarly, the employer's threat point is to delay bargaining, not to terminate it. Consequently, the outcome of the bargain depends on the relative costs of delay to the parties, not on the results of irrational threats to disclaim any bargain. In a model of the labor market that otherwise adopts all of the features of the standard Mortensen-Pissarides model, unemployment is much more sensitive to changes in productivity than in the standard model, because feedback through the wage is absent. We also present models where the wage bargain is in partial contact with conditions in the labor market.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11245

Published: Hall, Robert E. and Paul R. Milgrom. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain." American Economic Review 98,4 (September 2008): 1653-1674.

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