9905 Wage Flexibility and Contract Structure in Germany VILHUBERT, Lars Département de sciences économiques Université de Montréal Faculté des arts et des sciences C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7 Canada http://www.sceco.umontreal.ca SCECO-information@UMontreal.CA Téléphone : (514) 343-6539 Télécopieur : (514) 343-7221 Ce cahier a également été publié par le Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative (CIREQ) sous le numéro 0599. This working paper was also published by the Center for Interuniversity Research in Quantitative Economics (CIREQ), under number 0599. ISSN 0709-9231 CAHIER 9905 WAGE FLEXIBILITY AND CONTRACT STRUCTURE IN GERMANY 1 Lars VILHUBER 1 Centre de recherche et développement en économique (C.R.D.E.) and Département de sciences économiques, Université de Montréal, and Department of Economics, York University March 1999 _________________ The author wishes to thank David Margolis and Paul Beaudry for helpful discussions. Financial support by CIRANO and the C.R.D.E. is gratefully acknowledged. This is a revised version of CIRANO working paper 96s-28. RÉSUMÉ Dans cet article, nous analysons la corrélation entre les revenus de travail contemporains et les conditions sur le marché du travail, à savoir le taux de chômage mesuré à différents moments pendant la durée du contrat de travail. Les données que nous utilisons proviennent du Panel Socio-économique Allemand et comprennent la période 1984-1994. Contrairement aux résultats pour le marché américain, nous trouvons que l'état actuel du marché du travail est un important facteur, même en contrôlant pour le taux de chômage en vigueur au début de la relation d'emploi. Les élasticités estimées varient entre 9 et 15 pourcent pour l'élasticité des revenus de travail par rapport au taux de chômage contemporain et entre 6 et 10 pourcent par rapport au taux de chômage en début de contrat. Notamment, tandis que le taux de chômage régional affecte le niveau des revenus d'emploi, le taux national influence la variation dans les revenus. Ces résultats sont cohérents avec la présence simultanée de conventions collectives et de contrats individuels, tels les modèles de contrats implicites, qui expliquent une partie de la variance de revenus de travail et des mouvements de revenu à long terme. En plus de la variation régionale, nous étudions l'hétérogénéité des contrats selon certaines caractéristiques des travailleurs et des emplois. En particulier, nous constatons que les contrats de travail diffèrent selon la taille de l'entreprise et le type de travailleur. Un travailleur dans une grande entreprise est remarquablement plus isolé de fluctuation du marché de travail qu'un travailleur dans toute autre taille d'entreprise, suggérant l'importance des marchés du travail internes pour ces firmes. Mots clés : courbe de salaire, contrats implicites, structure des salaires, Allemagne ABSTRACT In this paper, we look at how labor market conditions at different points during the tenure of individuals with firms are correlated with current earnings. Using data on individuals from the German Socioeconomic Panel for the 1985-1994 period, we find that both the contemporaneous unemployment rate and prior values of the unemployment rate are significantly correlated with current earnings, contrary to results for the American labor market. Estimated elasticities vary between 9 and 15 percent for the elasticity of earnings with respect to current unemployment rates, and between 6 and 10 percent with respect to unemployment rates at the start of current firm tenure. Moreover, whereas local unemployment rates determine levels of earnings, national rates influence contemporaneous variations in earnings. We interpret this result as evidence that German unions do, in fact, bargain over wages and employment, but that models of individualistic contracts, such as the implicit contract model, may explain some of the observed wage drift and longer-term wage movements reasonably well. Furthermore, we explore the heterogeneity of contracts over a variety of worker and job characteristics. In particular, we find evidence that contracts differ across firm size and worker type. Workers of large firms are remarkably more insulated from the job market than workers for any other type of firm, indicating the importance of internal job markets. 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