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Labor Economics

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What Response from U.S. Economic Policy?

It is no surprise that many fearful American workers see the call center operator in Bangalore or the factory worker in Guangzhou as a threat to their jobs. The emergence of China and India (along with other, smaller developing countries) as economic powers has doubled the supply of labor to the integrated world economy. Economic theory suggests that such a dramatic increase in the supply of labor without an accompanying increase in the supply of capital is likely to exert downward pressure on wages for workers already in the integrated world economy, and wages for most workers in the United States have indeed stagnated or declined. In this book, leading economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Alan S. Blinder offer their perspectives on how the outsourcing of labor and the shifting of jobs to lower-wage countries affect the U.S. economy and what, if any, policy responses are required. Bhagwati, in his colorful and pithy style, focuses on globalization and free trade, while Blinder, erudite and witty, addresses the significance of labor market adjustment caused by trade. Bhagwati’s and Blinder’s contributions are followed by comments from economists Richard Freedman, Douglas A. Irwin, Lori G. Kletzer, and Robert Z. Lawrence. Bhagwati and Blinder then respond separately to the issues raised. Benjamin Friedman, who edited this volume (and organized the symposium that inspired it), provides an introduction.

Winner of the 1998 Leo Melamed Prize sponsored by theJournal of BusinessContrary to popular opinion, human resources, in general, and personnel, in particular, are well-suited to economic analysis. Edward Lazear, who founded the subfield of personnel economics, provides a quick introduction for economists who have not studied the area. He clearly and engagingly summarizes his and others' work that has taken place during the past fifteen years, including recent advances in the field.Mainstream economic theory has been considered too abstract to be of much practical use in the hiring, organizing, and motivating of employees, leaving the field of personnel to industrial psychologists and sociologists. In this book Edward Lazear shows that economic analysis can be extended to an important, but traditionally neglected, class of practical problems. He shows that by adding more detail and structure to their theory, economists can make specific predictions and prescriptions for personnel issues that arise in business on a daily basis. Lazear focuses on compensation and its relation to worker motivation, selection, and teamwork. He also discusses job design, job evaluation, institutional arrangements, and directions for future research.

Job Creation and Job Destruction in a Growing Economy

Every working day in the United States, 90,000 jobs disappear--and an equal number are created. This discovery has radically altered the way economists think about how labor markets work. Without this necessary phenomenon of "creative destruction," our economies would experience much lower growth. Unemployment is a natural consequence of a vigorous economy--and is in fact indispensable to it. In The Natural Survival of Work, labor economists Pierre Cahuc and André Zylberberg consider how to manage the unemployment that results from the desirable churning of the economy, drawing on recent economic research and citing examples from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.Unemployment in many continental European countries, particularly among youth, has reached high levels in recent years, and Cahuc and Zylberberg criticize labor market policies that are based on politics rather than economics. They discuss the minimum wage in both the United States and France and show that increasing it, under certain circumstances, can increase employment. They find fault with the idea that work sharing is a cure for unemployment. They consider how to design a system of unemployment insurance that does not destroy the incentive to find work, and examine the effect of government regulation of layoffs. Finally, they analyze the true impact of education and training as remedies for unemployment. Economists today know more about how labor markets work. Policies could be more effective, Cahuc and Zylberberg argue, if they were based upon this knowledge.The French edition of The Natural Survival of Work won the 2004 European Economics Book Award.

In this pithy and provocative book, noted economist Daniel Cohen offers his analysis of the global shift to a post-industrial era. If it was once natural to speak of industrial society, Cohen writes, it is more difficult to speak meaningfully of post-industrial “society.” The solidarity that once lay at the heart of industrial society no longer exists. The different levels of large industrial enterprises have been systematically disassembled: tasks considered nonessential are assigned to subcontractors; engineers are grouped together in research sites, apart from the workers. Employees are left exposed while shareholders act to protect themselves. Never has the awareness that we all live in the same world been so strong---and never have the social conditions of existence been so unequal. In these wide-ranging reflections, Cohen describes the transformations that signaled the break between the industrial and the post-industrial eras. He links the revolution in information technology to the trend toward flatter hierarchies of workers with multiple skills--and connects the latter to work practices growing out of the culture of the May 1968 protests. Subcontracting and outsourcing have also changed the nature of work, and Cohen succinctly analyzes the new international division of labor, the economic rise of China, India, and the former Soviet Union, and the economic effects of free trade on poor countries. Finally, Cohen examines the fate of the European social model--with its traditional compromise between social justice and economic productivity--in a post-industrial world.

The multinational firm and its main vehicle, foreign direct investment, are key forces in economic globalization. Their importance to the world economy can be seen in the fact that since 1990 foreign direct investment has grown more rapidly than the world GDP and world trade. Despite this, the causes and consequences of multinational firm activity are little understood and until recently relatively unexamined in the theoretical literature. This CESifo volume fills this gap, examining the multinational enterprise (MNE) and foreign direct investment (FDI) from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. In the theoretical chapters, leading scholars take a wide range of modern analytical approaches--from new growth and trade theories to new economic geography, industrial organization, and game theory. Taking current theoretical work on MNE and FDI as a starting point and aiming to extend the existing theoretical framework, the contributors consider such topics as investment liberalization and firm location, tax competition, and welfare consequences of FDI and outsourcing. The empirical chapters test several of the key hypotheses of recent theoretical work on MNE and FDI, examining topics that include productivity effects on Italian MNEs, the different effects of outsourcing in Austria and Poland, location decisions of MNEs in the European Union, and other topics. ContributorsOscar Amerighi, Bruce A. Blonigen, Steven Brakman, Davide Castellani, Ronald B. Davies, Alan V. Deardorff, Fabrice Defever, Harry Garretsen, Anders N. Hoffman, Andzelika Lorentowicz, James R. Markusen, Charles van Marrewijk, Dalia Marin, James R. Marukusen, Alireza Naghavi, Helen T. Naughton, Giorgio Barba Navaretti, J. Peter Neary, Gianmarco Ottaviano, Alexander Raubold, Glen R. WaddellSteven Brakman is Professor of Globalization in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Groningen. Harry Garretsen is Professor of International Economics at the Utrecht School of Economics, Utrecht University.

Contract Theory by Patrick Bolton and Mathias Dewatripont, a comprehensive textbook on contract theory suitable for use at the graduate and advanced undergraduate levels, covers the areas of agency theory, information economics, and organization theory and presents many applications in all areas of economics, especially labor economics, industrial organization, and corporate finance. The exercises at the end of the book not only review, chapter by chapter, the basic concepts introduced in the text but also explore additional ideas and applications based on teaching material accumulated over the years by the authors and other instructors of contract theory. The solutions manual to this essential text gives complete solutions to 27 of the 54 exercises in the text, allowing students to study and compare their answers and take greater advantage of this crucial part of the book. The solutions manual follows the structure of the text, grouping exercises by chapter. Chapters 2-6 cover such static bilateral contracting problems as screening, signaling, and moral hazard; chapters 7 and 8 treat multilateral contracting, including auctions, bilateral trade under private information, and multiagent moral hazard; chapters 9 and 10 explore problems of repeated bilateral contracting; and chapters 11-13 cover incomplete contracts, the theory of ownership and control, contracting with externalities, and common agency. Arthur Campbell, Moshe Cohen, Florian Ederer, and Johannes Spinnewijn are all Ph.D. candidates in Economics at MIT.

The core mechanism that drives economic growth in modern market economies is massive microeconomic restructuring and factor reallocation--the Schumpeterian "creative destruction" by which new technologies replace the old. At the microeconomic level, restructuring is characterized by countless decisions to create and destroy production arrangements. The efficiency of these decisions depends in large part on the existence of sound institutions that provide a proper transactional environment. In this groundbreaking book, Ricardo Caballero proposes a unified framework to analyze and understand a wide variety of macroeconomic phenomena stemming from limitations, especially institutional, that hinder these adjustments.Caballero argues that macroeconomic models need to be made more "structural" in a precise sense and can not be maintained on the assumption that decisions are fully flexible. What is needed, he proposes, is the notion of specificity--the idea that factors of production are not freely interchangeable. Many of the major macroeconomic developments of recent decades, he argues, fit naturally into this perspective, including the transition problems of Eastern Europe, the heavy weight of labor regulations in Western Europe, the emerging market crises of the 1990s, the prolonged expansion of the U.S. economy, and Japan's stagnation following the collapse of its real estate bubble.After describing the basic arguments of the book and developing models to illustrate two different kinds of specificity (relationship specificity and technological specificity), Caballero analyzes a variety of aspects of inefficient restructuring and revisits perennial business cycle patterns such as the cyclical behavior of unemployment, investment, and wages. Finally, he looks at the endogenous response of political institutions and technology to opportunistic exploitation of relationship specificity. Economists working on macroeconomics, development, growth, labor, and productivity issues will find Caballero's conceptual framework applicable to phenomena in their fields.

Globalization and Environmental, Safety, and Labor Regulations at Sea

Shipping is among the most globalized of industries. Shipowners can choose where to register their vessels, based on cost, convenience, and the international and domestic regulations that would govern their operation. This system of open registration, also known as flags of convenience (FOC), can encourage a competition in regulatory laxity among states that want to attract shipping revenues--a race to the regulatory bottom. In Flagging Standards, Elizabeth DeSombre examines the effect of globalization on environmental, safety, and labor standards in the shipping industry. She finds that the economic advantages of lowered standards can be offset by the collective action of international organizations, states, and nongovernmental actors to exclude low-standard ships from the advantages of globalization. Open registries are pressured to raise their standards while traditional maritime states lower theirs somewhat when they create international or second registries. The result is a competition not for the regulatory bottom but for the middle ground.DeSombre examines the decisions made by states and shipowners that lead to this race to the middle and explores the effectiveness of strategies used by both state and nonstate actors aimed at raising regulatory standards, including port control, labor actions against FOC ships that fail to meet international labor standards, and trade restrictions against shipped goods that were not obtained within the requirements of international agreements. Globalization, DeSombre finds, may lead to a downward trend in regulatory standards but has also created many opportunities to raise these standards and does not necessarily signal a reduction of state control.

A Working Families' Agenda for America

Many American families have not prospered in the new "knowledge economy." The layoffs, restructurings, and wage and benefit cuts that have followed the short-lived boom of the 1990s threaten our deeply held values of justice, fairness, family, and work. These values -- and not those superficial ones political pollsters ask about -- are the foundation of the American dream of good jobs, fair pay, and opportunities for all. In this call to action for families, business, labor, and government, Thomas Kochan outlines ways in which we can empower working families to earn a good living by doing satisfying work while still having time for family and community life.We cannot make the transition to a knowledge economy, writes Kochan, with a workforce that is stressed, frustrated, and insecure. Businesses need to rebuild relationships with their employees based on trust. And working families need to take control of their own destinies.First, we can take action that goes beyond the workplace buzzwords flexible and family friendly to design systems that support productive work and healthy family life. We can invest in better basic education and life-long learning, and we can work toward strategies for creating and sustaining good jobs with portable benefits. We need organizations that value investors of human capital -- their employees -- as highly as they do investors of financial capital, and we need a renewed labor movement to give workers a stronger voice. Kochan lays out an agenda for working families in the twenty-first century that calls for business, labor, government, and workers to come together to make the changes that will allow us all to benefit from the new economy. The solution to our problems, he points out, is too important to be left to "the market."

High unemployment in many European OECD countries has been attributed to factors ranging from rigid wages and low job mobility to an interaction of high taxes and generous social benefits that may discourage labor force participation and encourage the growth of an underground economy. This CESifo volume analyzes the effect of tax policy and, more generally, welfare state incentives, on the performance of the labor market. The contributors, all leading international economists, take both theoretical and empirical approaches; the book includes general overviews as well as in-depth analyses of specific policies.Some chapters take a broad perspective on taxation and labor markets, considering such topics as the effects of taxes in both the conventional model of a competitive labor market and a more realistic imperfect market, the observed work differentials between Europe and the United States, and the potential for progressive taxes and redistributive benefits to boost employment. Other chapters examine the effects of tax reforms, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the wage-increasing effects of progressive income taxes in a highly unionized labor market. Finally, the contributors analyze the effects of employment protection and tax penalties on the growth of the underground economy. The insights offered in these studies will be valuable to the policy analyst as well as to the academic theorist.Contributors:Jonas Agell, Dan Anderberg, Søren Arnberg, A. Lans Bovenberg, Nada Eissa, Anders Holm, Hilary Hoynes, Henrik Jacobsen Kleven, Ann-Sofie Kolm, Birthe Larsen, Stephen Nickell, Peter Birch Sørensen, Frederick van der Ploeg, Claus Thustrup Kreiner, Torben Tranæs

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