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Wages and Firm Performance: Evidence from the 2008 Financial Crisis

The effect of wage bargains on the stock market value of the firm

Paige Ouimet and Elena Simintzi

Review of Corporate Finance Studies, 2021, vol. 10, issue 2, 273-305

Abstract: We examine the effect of higher wages on firm performance during the 2008 financial crisis. To identify variation in wages, we rely on heterogeneity in the timing of long-term wage agreements for a sample of U.K. firms. We instrument for firms signing long-term agreements overlapping with the crisis by the presence of a contract signed in 2006 or earlier and expiring before September 2008. Treated firms not only paid higher wages but also realized greater labor productivity relative to control firms. These findings are consistent with the intuition that opportunity cost differentials between treated and control firms induce employees to exert higher effort. (JEL J41, J30, J24, G01)Received February 28, 2019; editorial decision July 8, 2020 by Editor Andrew Ellul. Authors have furnished an Internet Appendix, which is available on the Oxford University Press Web site next to the link to the final published paper online.

Date: 2021
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