This paper tests for downward nominal wage rigidity in markets for casual daily agricultural labor in a developing country context. I examine transitory shifts in labor demand, generated by rainfall shocks, in 600 Indian districts from 1956-2009. First, there is asymmetric adjustment: nominal wages rise in response to positive shocks but do not fall during droughts. Second, transitory positive shocks generate ratcheting: after they have dissipated, nominal wages do not adjust back down. Third, inflation moderates these effects, enabling downward real wage adjustments both during droughts and after positive shocks. Fourth, wage distortions generate employment distortions, creating boom and bust cycles: employment is 9% lower in the year after a transitory positive shock than if the positive shock had not occurred. Fifth, consistent with the misallocation of labor across farms, households with small landholdings increase labor supply to their own farms when they are rationed out of the external labor market. The results are not consistent with other transmission mechanisms, such as migration or capital accumulation. These findings indicate the presence of rigidities in a setting with few institutional constraints. Survey evidence suggests that workers and employers believe that nominal wage cuts are unfair and lead to effort reductions.I liek Tyler Cowen's comments and questions, too.
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