Log in to access the full article.
This paper studies the way workers and firms behaved in a highly cyclical sector such as the Catalan cotton textile industry. Using firm level evidence from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the paper shows that, in spite of weak unionization and the lack of regional or local collective bargaining institutions, piece rates in cotton spinning and weaving were not subject to competitive rate cuts and remained fixed over the cycle. When facing a negative demand shock, firms adjusted by reducing output, hours of work, labour productivity, and employment. The paper finally evaluates the possible sources of wage rigidity in the industry.