The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper addresses two questions. First, under what circumstances will a centralized wage-bargaining system offer higher output and employment than a decentralized system? Second, what is the relationship between the degree of wage centralization and inflation? The paper argues that centralized wage setting may offer worse outcomes, despite the existence of a negative coordination externality in decentralized wage setting. This is more likely to occur when the legal and institutional environment strengthens the bargaining position of the union in the centralized regime compared with unions operating in a more decentralized regime. Furthermore, as product markets become more competitive, the macroeconomic outcomes in both regimes converge, and the degree of wage centralization becomes irrelevant.