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Wage inflation and labour unions in EMU

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This paper examines different levels of wage moderation in EMU member states since the introduction of the euro. Most arguments examining wage restraint have done so relying on the assumptions that relations between EMU member states are symmetric and that wage-setting systems are similar across sectors within one country. We introduce one innovation to these approaches and develop a second existing one. The paper adopts a dual-sector approach, where exposed sector unions are still tied to a competitiveness constraint on wages, while sheltered sector unions neither face a hard monetary constraint imposed by the central bank nor are subject to a competitive one. Wage moderation is higher in countries with wage-bargaining institutions which tie wage-setters in the sheltered sector to the exposed sector through a co-ordination mechanism. The second innovation is that of asymmetries between Germany and other EMU member states.

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