Wage and Employment Determination in Volatile Times: Sweden 1913-1939

45 Pages Posted: 5 May 2012

See all articles by Bertil Holmlund

Bertil Holmlund

Uppsala University - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

The paper studies wage and employment determination in the Swedish business sector from the mid-1910s to the late 1930s. This period includes the boom and bust cycle of the early 1920s as well as the Great Depression of the early 1930s. The events of the early 1920s are particularly intriguing, involving inflation running at an annual rate of 30 percent followed by a period of sharp deflation where nominal wages and prices fell by 30 percent and unemployment increased from 5 to 30 percent. We examine whether relatively standard wage and employment equations can account for the volatile economic development during the interwar years. By and large, the answer is a qualified yes. Industry wages were responsive to industry-specific firm performance, suggesting a significant role for 'insider forces' in wage determination. Unemployment had a strong downward impact on wages. There is evidence that reductions in working time added to wage pressure; yet estimates of labor demand equations suggest that cuts in working time may have slightly increased employment as firms substituted workers for hours.

Keywords: wage determination, labor demand, interwar labor markets

JEL Classification: J23, J31, N14, N34

Suggested Citation

Holmlund, Bertil, Wage and Employment Determination in Volatile Times: Sweden 1913-1939. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6509. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2051312

Bertil Holmlund (Contact Author)

Uppsala University - Department of Economics ( email )

SE-75120 Uppsala
Sweden
+46 18 471 1122 (Phone)
+46 18 471 1478 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nek.uu.se/faculty/holmlund/index.html

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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