NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Unexpected Inflation, Real Wages, and Employment Determination in Union Contracts

David Card

NBER Working Paper No. 2768
Issued in November 1988
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper presents new microeconometric evidence on the relevance of nominal contracting for employment determination in the unionized sector. Real wages in long term union contracts contain an unanticipated component that reflects unexpected changes in prices and the degree of indexation. These unexpected wage components provide a convenient tool for separating the causal effects of wages on employment from other endogenous sources of employment and wage variation. The empirical analysis of employment and wage outcomes among collective agreements in the Canadian manufacturing sector reveals that employment and wages are only weakly related. When unexpected changes in real wages are used as an instrumental variable for the contract wage, however, employment is consistently negatively related to wages. The results imply that the institutional structure of wage determination has important effects on the cyclical characteristics and persistence of employment changes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2768

Published: The American Economic Review, Vol. 80, No. 4, pp. 669-688, (September 1990) citation courtesy of

 
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