May 2024

IZA DP No. 17039: Coarse Wage-Setting and Behavioral Firms

This paper shows that the bunching of wages at round numbers is partly driven by firm coarse wage-setting. Using data from over 200 million new hires in Brazil, I first establish that contracted salaries tend to cluster at round numbers. Then, I show that firms that tend to hire workers at round-numbered salaries have worse market outcomes. Next, I develop a wage-posting model in which optimization costs lead to the adoption of coarse rounded wages and provide evidence supporting two model predictions using two research designs. Finally, I examine some consequences of coarse wage-setting for relevant economic outcomes.