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We begin with two uncontroversial hypotheses - firm productivity is expensive to measure and employment entails relationship-specific investments. These assumptions imply that firms would optimally choose fixed-wage contracts, and complement these with bonus pay when measuring employee
performance is not too costly. These assumptions imply that under an optimal employment contract hours of work is less responsive, while total compensation is more responsive to shocks under bonus-pay contracts compared to fixed wage contracts. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics
(PSID) where shocks are proxied using the local unemployment rate, we find strong support for these two implications.
The American Economic Review is a general-interest economics journal. The journal is published quarterly and contains articles on a broad range of topics. Established in 1911, the AER is among the nation's oldest and most respected scholarly journals in the economics profession.