Schlicht, Ekkehart (1995): Autonomous Wage Inflation. In: Schettkat, Ronald; Gerlach, Knut (Hrsg.): (1995): Determinanten der Lohnbildung. S. 187-201




This paper develops a theory of stagflation, based on turnover-efficiency-wage theory. In these theories, wages are forward-looking, i.e., set to keep incumbents with the firm. The employed workers apply for better jobs and compete with unemployed applicants. An employed applicant is, however, preferred to an unemployed applicant, or the long-term unemployed, who, with their outdated skills, form an essentially non-competing group. Consider now the case that the monetary authority succeeds in stabilizing the price level permanently. Start from efficiency-wage unemployment equilibrium. The skills of the unemployed will, after a while, become outdated. This reduces the „effective” rate of unemployment and causes the labor market to tighten. Turnover increases, and the former equilibrium is destroyed. The individual firm will raise wages in order to reduce turnover costs. Costs increase, causing prices to also increase. The monetary authority reacts with restrictive policies, and unemployment increases. This leads to a new turnover-efficiency-wage equilibrium, and the process continues. The argument implies that wage inflation emerges after a while at all employment levels. This paper concludes by discussing some of the consequent policy implications.