Manual Labor Economics

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Other variables that affect the labour supply decision, and can be readily incorporated into the model, include taxation, welfare, work environment, and income as a signal of ability or social contribution. A firm's labour demand is based on its marginal physical product of labour MPP L. This is defined as the additional output or physical product that results from an increase of one unit of labour or from an infinitesimal increase in labour.

See also Production theory basics. Labour demand is a derived demand; that is, hiring labour is not desired for its own sake but rather because it aids in producing output, which contributes to an employer's revenue and hence profits. With a perfectly competitive goods market, the MRP is calculated by multiplying the price of the end product or service by the Marginal Physical Product of the worker.

If the MRP is greater than a firm's Marginal Cost, then the firm will employ the worker since doing so will increase profit. The MRP of the worker is affected by other inputs to production with which the worker can work e. It is typical in economic models for greater availability of capital for a firm to increase the MRP of the worker, all else equal.

Education and training are counted as " human capital ". Since the amount of physical capital affects MRP, and since financial capital flows can affect the amount of physical capital available, MRP and thus wages can be affected by financial capital flows within and between countries, and the degree of capital mobility within and between countries. According to neoclassical theory, over the relevant range of outputs, the marginal physical product of labour is declining law of diminishing returns. That is, as more and more units of labour are employed, their additional output begins to decline.

Additionally, although the MRP is a good way of expressing an employer's demand, other factors such as social group formation can the demand, as well as the labor supply. This constantly restructures exactly what a labor market is, and leads way to causing problems for theories of inflation. The marginal revenue product of labour can be used as the demand for labour curve for this firm in the short run. In imperfect markets, the diagram would have to be adjusted because MFC L would then be equal to the wage rate divided by marginal costs. Because optimum resource allocation requires that marginal factor costs equal marginal revenue product, this firm would demand L units of labour as shown in the diagram.

The demand for labour of this firm can be summed with the demand for labour of all other firms in the economy to obtain the aggregate demand for labour. Likewise, the supply curves of all the individual workers mentioned above can be summed to obtain the aggregate supply of labour. These supply and demand curves can be analysed in the same way as any other industry demand and supply curves to determine equilibrium wage and employment levels.

Labour Economics

For example, the wages of a doctor and a port cleaner, both employed by the NHS , differ greatly. There are various factors concerning this phenomenon. This includes the MRP of the worker. A doctor's MRP is far greater than that of the port cleaner. In addition, the barriers to becoming a doctor are far greater than that of becoming a port cleaner. To become a doctor takes a lot of education and training which is costly, and only those who excel in academia can succeed in becoming doctors. The port cleaner however requires relatively less training.

The supply of doctors is therefore significantly less elastic than that of port cleaners. Demand is also inelastic as there is a high demand for doctors and medical care is a necessity, so the NHS will pay higher wage rates to attract the profession. Some labour markets have a single employer and thus do not satisfy the perfect competition assumption of the neoclassical model above.

The model of a monopsonistic labour market gives a lower quantity of employment and a lower equilibrium wage rate than does the competitive model. In many real-life situations the assumption of perfect information is unrealistic. An employer does not necessarily know how hard workers are working or how productive they are.

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Labour economics - Wikipedia

This provides an incentive for workers to shirk from providing their full effort — since it is difficult for the employer to identify the hard-working and the shirking employees, there is no incentive to work hard and productivity falls overall, leading to the hiring of more workers and a lower unemployment rate. One solution used recently [ when? However, this solution has attracted criticism as executives with large stock-option packages have been suspected of acting to over-inflate share values to the detriment of the long-run welfare of the firm. Another solution, foreshadowed by the rise of temporary workers in Japan and the firing of many of these workers in response to the financial crisis of , is more flexible job- contracts and -terms that encourage employees to work less than full-time by partially compensating for the loss of hours, relying on workers to adapt their working time in response to job requirements and economic conditions instead of the employer trying to determine how much work is needed to complete a given task and overestimating.

Another aspect of uncertainty results from the firm's imperfect knowledge about worker ability. If a firm is unsure about a worker's ability, it pays a wage assuming that the worker's ability is the average of similar workers. This wage undercompensates high-ability workers and may drive them away from the labour market.

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  • Labor Economics;

Such a phenomenon, called adverse selection , can sometimes lead to market collapse. There are many ways to overcome adverse selection in labour market. One important mechanism is called signalling , pioneered by Michael Spence. Employers can then use education as a signal to infer worker ability and pay higher wages to better-educated workers. It may appear to an external observer that education has raised the marginal product of labour, without this necessarily being true.

One of the major research achievements of the period was the development of a framework with dynamic search , matching, and bargaining. At the micro level, one sub-discipline eliciting increased attention in recent decades is analysis of internal labour markets , that is, within firms or other organisations , studied in personnel economics from the perspective of personnel management.

By contrast, external labour markets "imply that workers move somewhat fluidly between firms and wages are determined by some aggregate process where firms do not have significant discretion over wage setting. Many sociologists, political economists, and heterodox economists claim that labour economics tends to lose sight of the complexity of individual employment decisions. From the perspective of mainstream economics , neoclassical models are not meant to serve as a full description of the psychological and subjective factors that go into a given individual's employment relations, but as a useful approximation of human behaviour in the aggregate, which can be fleshed out further by the use of concepts such as information asymmetry , transaction costs , contract theory etc.

Also missing from most labour market analyses is the role of unpaid labour such as unpaid internships where workers with little or no experience are allowed to work a job without pay so that they can gain experience in a particular profession. Even though this type of labour is unpaid it can nevertheless play an important part in society if not abused by employers.


The most dramatic example is child raising. However, over the past 25 years an increasing literature, usually designated as the economics of the family , has sought to study within household decision making, including joint labour supply, fertility, child raising, as well as other areas of what is generally referred to as home production. The labour market, as institutionalised under today's market economic systems, has been criticised, [12] especially by both mainstream socialists and anarcho-syndicalists , [13] [14] [15] [16] who utilise the term wage slavery [17] [18] as a pejorative for wage labour.

Socialists draw parallels between the trade of labour as a commodity and slavery. Cicero is also known to have suggested such parallels. According to Noam Chomsky , analysis of the psychological implications of wage slavery goes back to the Enlightenment era. In his book On the Limits of State Action , classical liberal thinker Wilhelm von Humboldt explained how "whatever does not spring from a man's free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness" and so when the labourer works under external control, "we may admire what he does, but we despise what he is.

The American philosopher John Dewey posited that until " industrial feudalism " is replaced by "industrial democracy ," politics will be "the shadow cast on society by big business".

Labour economics

This is because it contains elements of both micro and macroeconomics and is underpinned by a mixture of theoretical and empirical analysis. Given the type of questions that it seeks to answer, it is particularly useful for students interested in careers in a range of government departments as well as in other public sector and international organisations. Previous: International Economics. Next: Monetary Economics. All rights reserved. Feedback: econ-network bristol.

Contacts Orders Rights and permissions Other queries. Follow ILO publications Twitter. In developing countries, labour markets play a central role in determining economic and social progress since employment status is one of the key determinants of exiting poverty and promoting inclusion.