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Labor contracts and business cycles

Michele Boldrin () and Michael Horvath

UC3M Working papers. Economics from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía

Abstract: This paper investigates tbe c1aim, often put forth by Real Business Cycle proponents (e.g Prescott (1986», that the poor performance of their models in matching real world aggregate labor market behavior are due to tbe fact that observed real wage payments do not correspond to the actual marginal productivity of labor but contain an insurance component which cannot be accounted for by the Walrasian pricing mecbanism. To test this idea we dispense with tbe Walrasian description of the labor market and introduce contractual arrangements between employees and employers. Assuming that the former are prevented from accessing capital markets and are more risk averse than the latter we use tbe theory optimal contracts to derive an equilibrium relation between aggregate states of the economy and wage-Labor outcomes. This contractual arrangement is then embedded into a standard one-sector, stochastic neoclassical growth model in order to look at the business cycle implications of the contractual hypotbesis. The resulting dynamic equilibrium relations are then parameterized and studied by means of standard numerical approximation techniques. The quantitative properties of our model appear to be somewhat encouraging. We have examined different contractual environments and in all circumstances the contracts-based equilibrium performs better than standard ones witb regard to the labor-market variables and at least as well witb regard to the otber aggregate macroeconomic variables. The present paper reports only the simulation results relative to what we consider tbe most empirically relevant cases. More results are available from the authors.

Date: 1995-04
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Journal Article: Labor Contracts and Business Cycles (1995) Downloads
Working Paper: Labor Contracts and Business Cycles (1994) Downloads
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