Wage rigidities and business cycle fluctuations: a linked employer-employee analysis

from Health Economics Review at http://bit.ly/2iChpAy on December 28, 2016 at 11:45AM

This paper analyses wage dynamics in Italy in the last 25 years with a special focus on the recent recession. Despite the rather rigid Italian institutional setting, using linked employer-employee data we find that wage rigidities, albeit always present, have been subdued during the recessionary years. Using complementary data, we verify that, although we only observe daily and not hourly wages, overtime hours are not the main mechanism behind this enhanced wage flexibility. We document the presence of a trade-off between wage and employment adjustments: firms historically displaying higher levels of wage rigidities were less able to modify wages but exhibited higher turnover. A higher share of temporary workers, whose contractual relationship may be costlessly terminated and whose wages are therefore more frequently negotiated, served instead as a significant wage flexibility enhancing margin. More broadly, we find that firms of larger dimension, with a higher share of blue collar workers, or belonging to a sector where bonuses represent a large part of annual earnings were the ones displaying a higher level of wage flexibility.JEL ClassificationJ31, J33