C REDIBLE T HREATS IN A WAGE B ARGAINING M ODEL WITH ON - THE - JOB S EARCH1 Cristian Bartolucci2 Collegio Carlo Alberto

1. Introduction Postel-Vinay and Robin (2002a) builds on the idea by Burdett and Mortensen that labor market frictions and onthe-job search matter in wage determination. They propose an alternative wage setting mechanism that allows firms to compete for workers a´ la Bertrand in wages. Workers are allowed to search on the job, and when they receive an outside offer, they can use this offer to renegotiate wages. In order to limit the firm’s impetus to renegotiate wages when the poaching firms are not available anymore, contract renegotiation by mutual agreement is a crucial ingredient to sustain wages determination by between-firms Bertrand competition. In this model, as workers have zero bargaining power, they receive the value of their outside option. Therefore, an offer coming from a firm better than the firm currently used to set the wage, necessarily represents a credible threat and is valid to trigger renegotiation. The wage setting mechanism proposed by Postel-Vinay and Robin (2002a) has been also used in a number of papers ( e.g. Postel-Vinay and Robin (2002b) and Postel-Vinay and Turon (2009)). However, a more flexible setup allows the worker to take some of the surplus through Nash negotiation, as proposed by Cahuc, Postel-Vinay and Robin (2006, CPVR henceforth) and Dey and Flinn (2006). In this setting the surplus is defined as the difference between the maximum values that the poaching and the current firm can offer. This wage setting scenario has been used in a number of recent papers; such as Flinn (2006), Lentz (2010), Yamaguchi (2010), and Flinn and Mabli (2010). In this note, I show that credible threats are not required for workers in equilibrium search models with strategic wage bargaining and on-the-job search. A positive bargaining power of the worker, generates a wedge between the value of the current job and the outside option used to set the wage. Therefore, there are some firms that are better than the firm used to set the wage, which are not good enough to trigger renegotiation, because they do no represent credible threats. I apply a different definition of contracts to the environment presented in CPVR.3 As in Postel-Vinay and Turon (2009), I argue that contracts stipulate a constant wage and are only renegotiable by mutual consent in continuing matches. In other words, no firm or worker can force their match partner to revise the wage against the latter’s interest, unless the former has a credible threat to leave the match. In this setting, if the worker needs a credible threat to trigger renegotiation, wages are renegotiated less frequently than in the original model. The implications of this wage rule for wage dynamics were analyzed theoretically by MacLeod and Malcomson (1993): In continuing matches, if one party has a credible threat to dissolve the match, i.e. if the value of his outside option exceeds the value he gets from the existing relationship, the other party consents to wage renegotiation. ConPreprint submitted to Elsevier

August 3, 2012

tracts that can only be renegotiated by mutual consent are a natural assumption, with strong empirical support (e.g. Malcomson, 1997). This kind of contracts is consistent with a number of legal and economic facts. Mutual agreement is indeed a prerequisite to wage renegotiation in many European countries. In the U.S. the empirical evidence reviewed in Malcomson (1997) reveals that wage changes occur much less frequently than would be consistent with a strict application of the employment-at-will rule, suggesting that mutual consent, although not an explicit legal provision, may be common practice. The rest of the note is organized as follow. Section 2 presents the model and Section 3 concludes. 2. The Model I propose a model that builds on CPVR, but assuming that wage contracts are only altered when one of the outside-option constraints becomes binding. The economy is assumed to be stationary and populated by infinitely lived firms and workers. Time is continuous, all agents are risk neutral and discount future income at rate ρ > 0. In order to keep the model as simple as possible, worker heterogeneity is not considered, and workers are assumed to provide 1 efficiency unit per unit of time. Every firm is characterized by its productivity ( p). I assume that p is distributed across firms according to a given cumulative distribution function F ( p). A worker working in a firm p, produces p. Workers receive job offers at a Poisson rate λ0 > 0 while unemployed, and λ1 > 0 while employed. Jobs are exogenously destroyed at a constant rate δ > 0.4 Let V ( p, w) be the lifetime expected utility of a worker employed at a firm with productivity p who receives a wage w. As in CPVR wages are set by Nash-Bargaining. The worker obtains a fraction β of the surplus. The surplus is the difference between the maximum value the worker can get in that job, V ( p, p), and the outside option of the worker. When a worker comes from unemployment, his outside option is the unemployment. When a worker had a previous employer, his outside option is his previous employer. When an employed worker receives an outside offer from a more productive firm with productivity p+ , the worker changes firm and negotiates the new wage, w( p+ , p), according to the new surplus. The surplus is defined as the difference between the maximum value that the worker can receive in the new firm, V ( p+ , p+ ), and the maximum value that the worker could receive in the old firm, that is V ( p, p). w( p+ , p) is implicitly defined by: V ( p+ , w( p+ , p)) = βV ( p+ , p+ ) + (1 − β)V ( p, p) When an employed worker, who is currently receiving a wage w( p, p0 ), contacts a firm with productivity p− , and p− is lower than the productivity of his current firm, p, he will not move to the new firm. If the new firm is good enough (ie : p− is higher than a threshold q( p, p0 )), the worker will renegotiate and set a new wage, w( p, p− ), with the current firm. w( p, p− ) solves: V ( p, w( p, p− )) = βV ( p, p) + (1 − β)V ( p− , p− ) Therefore, the value of a job, in a firm with productivity p when the outside option is set according to an alternative firm with productivity p0 , is:

2

[ρ + δ + λ1 F¯ (q( p, p0 ))]V [ p, w( p, p0 )] = w( p, p0 ) + δV0 + λ1 + λ1

Z pmax p

Z p q( p,p0 )

V [ p, w( p, x )]dF ( x )

V [ x, w( x, p)]dF ( x ).

V0 , the value of the unemployment, is defined by:

[ρ + λ0 F¯ ( pmin )]V0 = b + λ0

Z pmax pmin

V [ x, w( x, pmin )]dF ( x ),

and pmin solves the following equation: V ( pmin , pmin ) = V0 The difference between the wage setting mechanism proposed in this note and the one presented in CPVR is in the definition of q( p, p0 ). In this note, wage contracts stipulate a constant wage and are only renegotiable by mutual consent in continuing matches. In other words, no firm or worker can force their match partner to revise the wage against the latter’s interest, unless the former has a credible threat to leave the match. According to this definition of wage contracts, the worker will be only able to trigger renegotiation if the maximum value than the poaching firm can offer him is higher than the value of the current job. Therefore the threshold q˜( p, p0 ), which defines good enough firms to start renegotiation, is implicitly defined by: V ( p, w( p, p0 )) = V (q˜( p, p0 ), q˜( p, p0 )) According to wage contract in CPVR, and in the subsequent papers mentioned in the introduction, employees are allowed to renegotiate whenever they have a new outside option which provides them the opportunity to obtain a wage gain. As renegotiation takes place only if it is in the worker’s interest, there will be renegotiation if the new poaching firm is better than the firm currently used to set the wage. The firm used as outside option to set the wage w( p, p0 ) is p0 . Therefore the threshold which defines good enough firms to start renegotiation, is simply p0 . Lemma 1. If p0 < p and 0 < β < 1, under CPVR there are some firms which do not represent a credible threat, which may be used to trigger renegotiation (ie : q˜( p, p0 ) > p0 ). Proof. The proof is straightforward. The wage that a worker receives in firm p with outside option p0 is given by V ( p, w( p, p0 )) = (1 − β)V ( p0 , p0 ) + βV ( p, p). The threshold that imposes credible threats for renegotiation is defined by V ( p, w( p, p0 )) = V (q˜( p, p0 ), q˜( p, p0 )). Therefore V (q˜( p, p0 ), q˜( p, p0 )) = (1 − β)V ( p0 , p0 ) + βV ( p, p). Given that V ( x, x ) is strictly increasing in x,5 if 0 < β < 1 and p0 < p, we have that V ( p0 , p0 ) < V (q˜( p, p0 ), q˜( p, p0 )) < V ( p, p) ⇒ p0 < q˜( p, p0 ) < p The threshold used in CPVR says that workers will renegotiate whenever they obtain a higher wage, but it does not imply the requirement of a credible threat. When a worker contacts a firm with productivity p− , and p0 < p− < q˜( p, p0 ), he will not permanently change employer, because the maximum utility he obtains in the poaching firm is smaller than the utility obtained in the current one (ie : V (q− , q− ) < V (q˜( p, p0 ), q˜( p, p0 )) = V ( p, w( p, p0 )), see Figure 1). Although the offer coming from p− does not represents a credible threat, the worker could take that offer and 3

switch to the firm with productivity p− for an insignificant period of time, and contact again the old firm to set a new contract that takes V ( p− , p− ) as the worker outside option. For the old firm it may still be profitable to keep the worker in the new situation (ie: because p > p− ) and therefore the new wage is negotiated considering the poaching firm as the outside option. Although this scheme is efficient for the workers, if contracts do not explicitly ban this kind of threats, firms are going to follow the same strategy. After the outside option has disappeared,6 the firm would layoff the worker for an insignificant period of time and then renegotiate a new wage taking the unemployment as the outside option. This scenario implies that unemployment is always the outside option as in Bartolucci (2011) and Flinn and Mabli (2011), and between firms Bertrand competition does not hold. Figure 1: Non-Credible Threats

V ( x, x ) V ( p, p) βV ( p, p) + (1 − β)V ( p0 , p0 )

V ( p0 , p0 )

p0

q˜( p, p0 )

p

x

Non-Credible Threats Note: V ( x, x ) is increasing and concave because 0 Y x. V ( x, x ) evaluated in q˜( p,

p0 )

∂V ( x,x ) ∂x

is equal to V [ p, w( p,

= p0 )]

1 ρ+δ+λ1 βF ( x )

> 0 Y x and

∂V ( x,x ) ∂x∂x 0 0

λ β f (x)

= − (ρ+δ+1λ

= βV ( p, p) + (1 − β)V ( p , p ).

1 βF ( x ))

2

<

3. Conclusion I propose a modification in the definition of contracts to the environment presented in CPVR. I assume that contracts stipulate a constant wage and are only renegotiable by mutual consent in continuing matches. I show that if the worker needs a credible threat to trigger renegotiation, wages are renegotiated less frequently than in the original model. Notes 1 I would like to thank Manuel Arellano, Chris Flinn, Claudio Michelacci, Ignacio Monzon, ´ Jean-Marc Robin, the Editor and one anonymous referee for very helpful comments and suggestions. 2 Via Real Collegio, 30 - 10024 - Moncalieri (Torino), Italy. Email: [email protected]. telephone: (+39)011-6705271 3 When CPVR describe the theory, they argue that their “wage contracts stipulate a fixed wage that can be renegotiated by mutual agreement only: renegotiations thus occur only if one party can credibly threaten the other to leave the match for good if the latter refuses to renegotiate” (p. 327). But below they state that renegotiation takes place if an offer from a firm better than the firm used as outside option to set the wage, arrives (p. 359). In Section 2, I show that both concepts may imply different sets of firms. In Yamaguchi (2010 p. 604), the wage setting is equivalent to the one presented in CPVR and contracts are also supposed to be renegotiated by credible threats. 4 See CPVR for detailed description of the model.

4

5 See

CPVR p. 360. offers do not last for ever, and so when jobs are exogenously destroyed, workers go to the unemployment and not to firm used as outside options when the wage was set. 6 Outside

References [1] Bartolucci, C (2011), “Gender Wage Gaps Reconsidered: A Structural Approach using Matched EmployerEmployee Data”, Carlo Alberto Notebook no.116. [2] Cahuc, P., F. Postel-Vinay and J.-M. Robin, (2006), “Wage Bargaining with On-the-job Search: Theory and Evidence”, Econometrica, 74(2), 323-64. [3] Dey, M. and C. Flinn (2005), “An equilibrium model of health insurance provision and wage determination.”, Econometrica 73(2), pp. 571–62. [4] Flinn, C. (2006), “Minimum Wage Effects on Labor Market Outcomes under Search, Bargaining, and Endogenous Contact Rates.” Econometrica 74 (4), 1013-1062. [5] Lentz, R. (2011) “Sorting by Search Intensity”, Journal of Economic Theory. [6] Malcomson, J. (1997), “Contracts, Hold-Up, and Labor Markets”, Journal of Economic Literature XXXV, 1916-57 [7] Postel-Vinay, F. and J.-M. Robin, (2002a), “Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity”, Econometrica, 70(6), 2295-350. [8] Postel-Vinay, F. and J.-M. Robin, (2002b), “The Distribution of Earnings in an Equilibrium Search Model with State-Dependent Offers and Counter-Offers”, International Economic Review 43(4), 989-1016. [9] Postel-Vinay, F. and H. Turon (2010), “On-the-job search, productivity shocks and the individual earnings process”, International Economic Review, 51(3) pp. 599–62. [10] Yamaguchi, S. (2010), “Job Search, Bargaining, and Wage Dynamics”, Journal of Labor Economics, 28(3), pp 595-631.

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Aug 3, 2012 - Employee Data”, Carlo Alberto Notebook no.116. ... [9] Postel-Vinay, F. and H. Turon (2010), “On-the-job search, productivity shocks and the ...

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