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Centralization of Wage Bargaining Revisited - Driffill Appunti scolastici Premium

Materiale didattico per il corso di Politica comparata del prof. Marco Giuliani. Trattasi dell'articolo di John Driffill dal titolo "The Centralization of Wage Bargaining Revisited: What Have we Learnt?", riguardante gli effetti del corporativismo sui salari e sulla disoccupazione.

Esame di Politica comparata docente Prof. M. Giuliani

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745

THE CENTRALIZATION OF WAGE BARGAINING REVISITED

Table 5: Collective Bargaining Coverage (%)

1980 1990 2000

Australia 80 80 80

Austria 95 95 95

Belgium 90 90 90

Canada 37 38 32

Denmark 70 70 90

Finland 90 90 80

France 80 90 90

Germany 80 80 90

Greece

Iceland

Ireland

Italy 80 80 80

Japan 25 20 15

Luxembourg 60

Netherlands 70 70 80

New Zealand 60 60 25

Norway 70 70 70

Portugal 70 70 80

Spain 60 70 80

Sweden 80 80 90

Switzerland 50 50 40

United Kingdom 70 40 30

United States 26 18 14

OECD 67 66 60

a

OECD 67 66 64

b

OECD 45 38 35

c

OECD 45 44 39

d

OECD (2004a).

Source: unweighted average; unweighted average (unchecked sample); weighted average; weighted

Notes: a b c d

average (unchecked sample).

traditionally strong. Privatization of public enterprises has weakened unions’

grip, as have the growth of service industries, the rise in the employment of

women and part-time workers, trends general throughout the OECD.

At the same time the monopoly powers of unions have been weakened by

the onward march of globalization, the continued fall in costs of transport and

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation: © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

746 JOHN DRIFFILL

communication, the advance of IT, the growth of outsourcing of manufactur-

ing and services to emerging markets. The rise of India and China and other

emerging markets, all have made for greater competition and undermined the

monopoly positions that unions might have exploited. Within the EU, the ‘com-

pletion’ of the single market and the introduction of the euro in January 1999

were intended to increase competition. Openness of economies, as measured

by imports and exports relative to GDP, has generally continued to increase.

Public policy has also changed in ways that have weakened union influence.

A succession of changes to industrial relations laws in Britain in the 1980s

weakened union power. The changes included a ban on secondary picketing,

a requirement to hold ballots before strikes, the removal of protection from

unofficial strikers and greater freedom for employers not to recognize unions

for bargaining. In Britain and a number of other countries, the benefits system

has been changed in the direction of lowering replacement rates, limiting the

period of availability of benefits and placing greater pressure on recipients

to look for and take jobs. This policy has been pushed in Britain a great deal

(harassment of the work-shy). In some countries employment protection

legislation has been scaled back, to allow for more temporary employment

(OECD, 2004). Some countries have made more effective use of active labour

market policies.

V. Germany: An Example of Increased Labour Market Flexibility?

Germany provides an example of modest shifts towards a more flexible and

decentralized system of wage determination, taking place through changes at

2

a number of levels in a system that appears structurally unchanged.

Industry-level wage bargaining has dominated in Germany for decades

and continues to do so. At the centre of the bargaining process is a system of

industry-wide collective wage agreements (the Recently,

Flächentarifvertrag).

however, there have been moves towards more flexible lower-level bargaining

procedures and some authors argue that the erosion of the ‘German model’

may have already started (see OECD, 2004). Many of the changes in the wage

bargaining process have gone unnoticed partly because trade unions have been

supportive and the collective agreements have been pragmatic (Streek and

Rehder, 2003). Two manifestations of greater flexibility have been, firstly, the

emergence of company-level alliances for employment and competitiveness

(Betriebliche Bündnisse zur Sicherung von Beschäftigung und Wettbewerbs-

and, secondly, the spread of contingent pay arrangements.

fähigkeit) are company level pacts between the bargaining

Betriebliche Bündnisse

parties which deviate from the industry-wide collective wage agreements.

This section draws heavily on work by Christian Spielmann (2006).

2

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd 747

THE CENTRALIZATION OF WAGE BARGAINING REVISITED

Employees agree to lower pay, higher productivity, or reallocation of work, in

exchange for security of employment or company guarantees on investment.

The legal status of company pacts that lead to poorer pay and conditions for

workers than the industry agreement has gradually been strengthened. The

majority of company pacts so far have been concerned with working hours,

but increasingly they also deal with pay (OECD, 2004).

Trade unions have agreed to make remuneration of unionized labour more

variable. Payments are increasingly linked to individual worker or company

performance. The study by Kurdelbusch (2003) shows that, of 90 major German

enterprises, more than half had included such arrangements in their contracts.

These concessions have reduced union power, but have also prevented a major

flight out of the collective bargaining agreements.

A number of plant-level agreements, many in the motor industry, have pro-

vided striking examples of the gradual changes that appear to be under way.

In 1993, with agreement of the union, IG Metall, Volkswagen AG deviated

from the industry agreement and introduced a four-day-week without any pay

compensation. In return VW promised that 30,000 jobs had been saved. Shortly

afterwards, similar agreements were made for the mining sector. Volkswagen’s

project ‘5000*5000’, settled in June 2001 after two years of negotiations, was

intended initially to create 5000 jobs for three years at two production sites

in Lower Saxony. Volkswagen proposed creating jobs with longer and more

flexible hours and lower pay, in order to match costs in production sites out-

side Germany, to which it threatened to move production if the unions would

not agree. Despite union opposition and claims of VWs ‘social dumping’, but

with support from the public and politicians for the plans, a compromise was

reached largely on the lines initially proposed. Similar agreements were reached

between IG Metall and BMW in 2005 and Daimler-Chrysler in 2004.

Pressure due to increased international competition and the problems aris-

ing from unification, reinforced by pressure from the government, has led

unions to be more flexible and created a climate of give and take in German

wage bargaining over the last decade. Opt-out clauses are used more often and

unions seem to be increasingly co-operative. The German example suggests

that changes in bargaining may occur with no obvious structural changes to

bargaining arrangements and thus may be difficult to observe and measure.

VI. Survival of Corporatism

Meanwhile, corporatism is not dead. In Ireland, for example, there has been

a succession of tripartite social pacts to limit inflation and promote high

employment, sometimes involving the government in offering lower tax

rates. The Netherlands’ success in returning to lower unemployment has been

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation: © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

748 JOHN DRIFFILL

characterized as partly a success of a corporatist model (Nickell and van Ours,

2000).

Blanchard and Philippon (2004) examine whether the quality of relations

between unions and firms affects unemployment. Their enquiry is stimulated

by the Dutch experience following the Wassenar accord of 1982, but it takes

in most OECD countries. They find that it lowers unemployment significantly,

even when other institutions and shocks are allowed for. Their results point

up the limited scope of economic models which focus on impersonal market

interactions or strategic interactions between players in a game (very often a

non-co-operative game) and pay no attention to the quality of dialogue or de-

gree of trust between them. Blanchard and Philippon’s result shows that there

is more to co-operation between players in a game than a choice of strategy

and in fact echoes an often-made criticism of much game theory, that it strips

out much that is important in interactions among economic agents. Their find-

ings show that a broader analysis is needed. They concede that the next step

is to understand how good industrial relations and trust are established and in

what conditions they are likely to be maintained. Their findings point to an

important line of research.

All the theory and recent experience reinforces the view that many

factors affect macroeconomic performance, not just measures of bargaining

structure. Many other aspects of labour markets influence unemployment

rates. Nevertheless, it may be informative to look at the scatter diagrams of

unemployment plotted against co-ordination and centralization for the OECD

countries, as in Figures 4 and 5. The data are unemployment rates averaged

over the period 2000–03 (four annual observations) and the co-ordination

and centralization figures for 2000 (OECD data). There are observations for

20 countries. What do we find? There are only a few observations with co-

ordination equal to one, two, or three. Most have a value of four and there

is wide variation among them in unemployment rates, from the Netherlands

(3 per cent) to Italy (9.4 per cent), though one has to keep in mind that Italy

combines the low-unemployment north with the high-unemployment south.

The only more co-ordinated countries are Belgium and Norway on 4.5 and

Finland on 5, with very high unemployment and rather spoiling any hump-

shaped pattern.

For all these countries, other factors also affect unemployment. In Finland’s

case, it may be argued that the country has not fully recovered from the collapse

of its markets in the Soviet Union in 1990. Among the 4s, the Netherlands

benefits from its co-operative unions and relatively flexible labour markets.

Germany’s social security system still provides high replacement rates and

relatively poor incentives to work. Overall, there is very weak evidence of a

non-monotonic relationship between co-ordination and unemployment. An

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd 749

THE CENTRALIZATION OF WAGE BARGAINING REVISITED

Figure 4: Co-ordination and Unemployment

Co-ordination 1995–2000 v. Unemployment 2000Q1–2003Q4

12 Spain

2000Q1–2003Q4 10 Italy Finland

France Germany

8 Canada Belgium

Australia

New

6 Japan

Sweden

Zealand USA

Unemployment Denmark Portugal

UK Ireland

4 Norway

Austria

Switzerland

Netherlands

2

0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Co-ordination 1995–2000

OECD (2004a, b).

Source:

Figure 5: Centralization and Unemployment

Centralization 1995–2000 v. Unemployment 2000–2003

12

2000Q1–2003Q4 Spain

10 Italy Finland

France Germany

8 Canada Belgium

Australia

6 New Zealand UK USA Sweden Portugal

Unemployment Japan Denmark Ireland

Austria

4 Switzerland Norway

Netherlands

2

0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Centralization 1995–2000

OECD (2004a, b).

Source:

ordinary least squares regression of unemployment on co-ordination and co-

ordination squared finds almost no relationship. In this regression, the data

consist of a cross section of 20 countries; the data on unemployment are an

average of the four years 2000–03 and the co-ordination data refer to the years

1995 to 2000 (data in Table 2).

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation: © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

750 JOHN DRIFFILL

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However, it may be argued that a simple regression gives excessive weight to

small countries. It may be that a weighted least squares regression would give

a more appropriate picture. One can justify using weighted least squares, using

the square root of population as the weight on each country’s observation, if

the variance of the error associated with that observation is inversely propor-

tional to the size of the country’s population. This might come about if each

large country was, in terms of its measure of co-ordination or centralization

of bargaining and its unemployment rate, effectively the average of several

smaller countries. Thus, a ‘large’ country, with a population and labour force

times that of a ‘standard-sized’ country, might be regarded as the average

n

of standard countries. If all such ‘standard-sized’ economies had the same

n

error variance , the ‘large’ country would have error variance equal to /n.

2 2

σ σ

3

Weighted least squares, with population weights, gives

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Here the predicted unemployment rates at these levels of co-ordination

indeed are non-monotonic. The predicted unemployment rates at each level of

centralization are shown in Figure 4. They are denoted by the square boxes on

the scatter plot. They form a u-shaped curve, much along the lines hypothesized

by Calmfors and Driffill (1988). The predicted unemployment rates are 5.34

per cent for the least co-ordinated countries (with a score of one), rising to

a peak of 8.70 per cent for moderately co-ordinated countries (those with a

score of three) and then falling to 2.76 per cent for the most co-ordinated

economies (with a score of five). The move from unweighted to weighted

least squares gives greater weight to the observations on large economies

than to small ones in the regression. Thus the low unemployment economies

with low co-ordination (like the United States and United Kingdom) receive

higher weight, as do the larger high unemployment countries with moderate

degrees of co-ordination, including Spain, France, Germany and Italy. On this

evidence, high co-ordination in bargaining has a marked effect in bringing

down unemployment.

The weighted least squares regression is valid if the errors in the weighted regression are homoscedastic.

3

This was tested using the Breusch-Pagan test. In carrying out this test, the standardized weighted errors were

regressed on a constant, the square root of population, population, co-ordination, and co-ordination squared

and, separately, on sub-sets of these variables. No evidence against the null hypothesis of homoscedastic-

ity was found. In addition the null hypothesis of normality of the weighted residuals is not rejected on a

Jarque-Bera test with a p-value of 0.62.

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd 751

THE CENTRALIZATION OF WAGE BARGAINING REVISITED

The picture is at first sight less promising looking at unemployment versus

centralization, where most countries are given an index of either two or three

and within each category there is a very wide range of variation. The twos run

from Switzerland (3.2 per cent unemployment) to Italy and the threes from

the Netherlands to Spain (11.1 per cent). Within each of these centralization

categories there are good explanations for the variety of unemployment figures.

Here again, a standard ordinary least squares regression of unemployment of

a constant, centralization and centralization squared shows no significant rela-

tionship. However, running the same weighted regression as above, weighting

4

observations by the square root of the population, gives

= +

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u centralization centralization

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. 3 0 . 95

i =

( . .

1

.

9 ) ( . . 0

.

42 )

s e s e

=

2 0

. 87

R

This regression also predicts a u-shaped relationship, with predicted

unemployment for the most centralized at 5.32 per cent, the peak for moderately

centralized countries (those with a score of 3) at 8.33 per cent and the most

centralized (with a score of 5) at 3.79 per cent. The predicted unemployment

rates are shown in Figure 5, denoted by the square boxes. Here again, high

centralization strongly reduces predicted unemployment. While highly

suggestive, these regressions omit large numbers of relevant variables and so

the results cannot be taken as conclusive, although with 20 observations only

a few regressors could be added before running out of degrees of freedom.

These results suggest that, despite the changes that have occurred since the

1980s, there remains empirical support for the hump-shaped hypothesis. The

data suggest that high centralization and high co-ordination produce more

favourable outcomes than extremely low values of each indicator.

The stability of inflation rates in the last few years (Figure 2) may suggest

that the unemployment rates averaged over 2000–03 might be taken as equi-

librium rates, reflecting long-run forces, such as the effects of labour market

institutions. However, the scatter diagrams of inflation against unemployment

show that relative to the past, we have seen in the last five years or so large

movements of unemployment against relatively small changes in inflation.

Figure 6 illustrates this phenomenon for the UK, and data for other major

OECD countries show a similar pattern. This may be showing up the effects of

favourable supply conditions, which have progressively pushed the equilibrium

unemployment rate downwards over the period. Or it may indicate that, with

The weighted residuals from the weighted regression showed no evidence against the null hypothesis of

4

homoscedasticity on a Breusch-Pagan test. In doing this test, weighted residuals were regressed on a constant,

the square root of population, population, centralization and centralization squared, and separately sub-sets

of these variables. In addition the null hypothesis that the weighted residuals are normally distributed is

not rejected on a Jarque-Bera test (p-value = 0.83).

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation: © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

752 JOHN DRIFFILL

inflation expectations firmly anchored at low levels by credible monetary in-

stitutions, it is possible now to have large swings of unemployment around the

NAIRU or equilibrium rate without rapid changes in the inflation rate. Either

way it weakens the force of the equilibrium unemployment rate and suggests

that there might be further large changes in unemployment without inflation

rising. So the status of recent unemployment rates as indicating equilibrium

rates is questionable.

Recent experience of inflation and unemployment suggests the possibility

that, as a low inflation world becomes firmly established, the responses of the

economy to demand and supply shocks changes and wage bargaining changes.

Are the economies of the euro area moving back into a world that has many

features in common with the world of the 1950s and 1960s? The common

features are low inflation, fixed exchange rates and individual economies left

without an independent monetary policy. In this world, employment in each

country is affected by the real exchange rate, which can no longer be changed

through nominal exchange rate movements. One country’s competitiveness

relative to the rest of the area can be increased only by its having lower

nominal wage increases, other things being equal. This places a large burden

of adjustment on wage moderation as a route to low unemployment. The

experience of Italy in the last five years (2001–06) illustrates that worsening

relative labour costs are associated with low growth. At the same time wage

moderation in the Netherlands and Ireland achieved through co-ordinated

wage bargaining and indeed through corporatist tripartite agreements, has

Figure 6: UK Unemployment–Inflation Trade-off

30

25

20

(%) 1980

rate 1970s

15 1980s

Inflation 1979 1990s and 2000s

1990

10 1989

1972

5 2005

0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Unemployment rate (%)

Author’s own data.

Source:

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd 753

THE CENTRALIZATION OF WAGE BARGAINING REVISITED 5

contributed to high employment and high growth rates. This fact, combined

with evidence of growing inertia in the rate of wage increases may revive the

attractiveness of incomes policies as a tool of macroeconomic management,

as they were in the 1960s.

Conclusions

Calmfors and Driffill (1988), in their empirical work, did not take account of

other factors than simply centralization of bargaining, such as informal co-

ordination of bargaining across groups and the density of unions. The bivariate

relationship was too simple. Other factors are important in determining the

equilibrium unemployment rate, particularly the benefit and social security

system as well as active labour market policies. A multivariate analysis is

needed and indeed several have been provided, such as Nickell (2005).

et al.

Theoretically, we omitted factors that have subsequently proved to be impor-

tant, such as openness and the effects of the macroeconomic policy context

on wage setting. There are other factors, which may be important, such as the

role of intermediate goods.

Nevertheless, both as a theoretical and an empirical proposition, the non-

monotonic relationship between a measure of unions’ co-ordination and un-

employment has not entirely been overturned. While some empirical studies

do not find evidence of it and quite a few do not look for it, a good number

continue to find empirical evidence for it. Theoretically, the proposition remains

intact, although the empirical relevance for the model on which it is based is

questionable. Whatever the fortunes of the hump, the prediction that highly

co-ordinated or centralized bargaining would lead to wage restraint and low

unemployment has survived scrutiny.

Over the last 17 years, unions have lost membership, power and influence.

The general direction of change has been towards less centralized and slightly

less co-ordinated bargaining. Higher competition in product markets has

reduced monopoly power that unions can exploit. Public policies on job

protection legislation, on unemployment benefits and training have been

very important in bringing down average unemployment rates in a number

of countries. Nevertheless, the situation of many euro area economies, with

limited tools available for macroeconomic management and with strong

incentives to reduce production costs relative to their competitors as a route

It is interesting to note that, as a referee for the journal has pointed out to me, despite the success of corporatist

5

policies in Ireland and the Netherlands, and highly co-ordinated bargaining arrangements in other countries,

the official international commentators like the OECD and the IMF have been cautious about recommending

more co-ordination as a route to lower unemployment. They have grudgingly accepted the success of these

pacts, while they continue to advocate cuts in benefit, employment protection laws, and so on.

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation: © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

754 JOHN DRIFFILL

to low unemployment, may lead to a revival of incomes policies and other

corporatist measures to improve performance.

Much of the academic literature has taken labour market institutions sepa-

rately, but in view of the vast amount of recent work on institutions, growth

and macroeconomic performance, including political institutions and financial

markets, perhaps collective bargaining and related matters should be seen as

part of broader research on institutions and macroeconomic performance in the

medium term and long-term growth. While these institutions have generally

been taken as the exogenous variables, they should perhaps also been seen as

endogenous.

Correspondence:

John Driffill

School of Economics, Mathematics and Statistics

Birkbeck College

University of London

Malet Street

London WC1E 7HX, UK

email: jdriffill@econ.bbk.ac.uk

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Twenty-First Century

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Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd 755

THE CENTRALIZATION OF WAGE BARGAINING REVISITED

Calmfors, L. and Driffill, J. (1988) ‘Bargaining Structure, Corporatism, and Macr-

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Mitbestimmung,

© 2006 The Author(s)

Journal compilation: © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd


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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze internazionali e istituzioni europee
SSD:
Università: Milano - Unimi
A.A.: 2011-2012

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Politica comparata e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Milano - Unimi o del prof Giuliani Marco.

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