Public or Private Sector Wage Leadership? An International Perspective
17 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2012
Date Written: March 2012
Whether a government acts as a wage leader, placing pressure on private‐sector wages (more open to competition), or whether it plays a passive role and merely follows wage negotiations in the private sector, there are important implications for macroeconomic development, particularly in small open economies and/or countries that are members of a monetary union, such as those of the European Monetary Union. With the notable exception of the case of Sweden, opinion on this issue is still divided. In this paper, we look at public‐ and private‐sector wage interactions from an international perspective (18 OECD countries). We focus on the causal two‐way relationship between public and private wage setting, confirming that the private sector, on the whole, appears to have a stronger influence on the public sector, rather than vice versa. However, we also find evidence of feedback effects from public wage setting, which affect private‐sector wages in a number of countries. When the private sector takes the lead on wages, there are few feedback effects from the public sector, while public wage leadership is typically accompanied by private‐sector feedback effects.
Keywords: Government wages, private‐sector wages, wage leadership, causality
JEL Classification: C32, J30, J51, J52, E62, E63, H50
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