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Working Paper

Wage Adjustment in Efficient Long-Term Employment Relationships

We present a model in which efficient long-term employment relationships are sustained by wage adjustments prompted by shocks to idiosyncratic productivity and the arrival of outside job offers. In accordance with casual and formal evidence, these wage adjustments occur only sporadically, due to the presence of renegotiation costs. The model is amenable to analytical solution and yields new insights into a number of labor market phenomena, including: (1) key features of the empirical distributions of changes in pay among job stayers; (2) a property of near-“memorylessness” in wage dynamics that implies that initial hiring wages have only limited influence on later wages and allocation decisions; and (3) a crucial role for nonbase pay—specifically, recruitment and retention bonuses—in sustaining efficient employment relationships.

Working Papers of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment on research in progress. They may not have been subject to the formal editorial review accorded official Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland publications. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Federal Reserve System.

Suggested Citation

Elsby, Michael W.L., Axel Gottfries, Pawel M. Krolikowski, and Gary Solon. 2023. “Wage Adjustment in Efficient Long-Term Employment Relationships.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 23-23.