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Chapter 4. Labor Demand Elasticities. Measuring elasticity of labor demand. Determinants of the elasticity of labor demand Consequences of inelastic or elastic labor demand Measuring cross elasticity of labor demand Consequences of a positive or negative cross elasticity of demand.

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Chapter 4. Labor Demand Elasticities.

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Chapter 4 labor demand elasticities l.jpg

Chapter 4. Labor Demand Elasticities.

  • Measuring elasticity of labor demand.

  • Determinants of the elasticity of labor demand

  • Consequences of inelastic or elastic labor demand

  • Measuring cross elasticity of labor demand

  • Consequences of a positive or negative cross elasticity of demand


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Elasticity of Labor Demand

  • OWN-WAGE ELASTICITY OF DEMAND.

    where Ei is the level of employment for type i labor and Wi is the wage rate for type i labor

    use mid-point for calculating percent changes

  • If hii > 1, labor demand is elastic.

  • < 1, labor demand is inelastic.


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Elasticity of Labor Demand

  • For a given level of wages, a steeper labor demand curve is more inelastic


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Elasticity of Labor Demand

For a linear labor demand curve, the "midpoint" divides the curve into an elastic and an inelastic portion.

  • Calculate elasticity for wages between

    • $10-12

    • $6-8

    • $2-4

  • What happens to total labor income as the wage rises?

  • What wage maximizes total labor income?


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HICKS-MARSHALL LAWS OF DERIVED DEMAND

Based on scale or substitution effects, why is labor demand more elastic when:

  • product demand is more elastic

  • other inputs can be easily substituted for labor

  • the supply of substitutes is more elastic

  • labor is a larger share of total cost


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Estimates of Own Wage Elasticity of Labor Demand

  • From text: British manufacturing firms

  • Scale Effect-0.53

  • Substitution Effect-0.45 (-0.15--0.75)

  • Overall -0.93 (-1.0---1.4)


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Estimates of Own Wage Elasticity of Labor Demand

Summary of studies by Daniel Hammermesh (1993)


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Application: Unions & Elasticity

  • Unions wish to raise wages while preserving employment.

  • How does elasticity of labor demand affect union “bargaining power”?


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Application: Unions & Elasticity

  • Truckload (TL) and Less than Truckload (LTL)

    • TL: hauling grain from one part of country to another.

    • LTL: UPS, FEDEX

  • Where is product demand more elastic?

  • Where is labor demand more elastic?

  • Where should unions have greater bargaining power?


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Application: Unions & Elasticity

  • TL: Average union rate 28.4 cents.mile; union-non-union ratio of 1.23

  • LTL: average union rate 35.8 cents/mile; union-non-union ratio 1.34


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Application: Unions & Elasticity

  • Unions will be most successful at raising wages in industries with inelastic labor demand.

    • Labor versus capital intensive

    • Monopolistic versus competitive

  • Unions will pursue & promote policies that make labor demand more inelastic.

    • Trade restrictions

    • Minimum wage

    • Immigration

  • Unions might first seek to organize workers in markets where labor demand is inelastic.


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Cross-Wage Elasticity

If cross elasticity >0  i & j are gross substitutes (substitution effect > scale effect)

If cross elasticity <0  i & j are gross complements (substitution effect < scale effect)


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Cross-Wage Elasticity

Determinants of cross-elasticity:

  • As type k labor's share of total cost increases, the scale effect of an increase in Wk grows, making it more likely that Ej drops (i.e. more likely gross complements).

  • As product demand becomes more elastic, the scale effect of an increase in Wk grows, making it more likely that Ej drops (i.e. more likely gross complements).

  • As the substitutability between the two types of labor increases, the substitution effect of an increase in Wk on Ej grows (i.e. more likely gross substitutes).


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Cross-Wage Elasticity

Some empirical evidence:

  • labor and energy are substitutes in production, but the degree of substitutability is small.

  • labor and materials are probably substitutes in production, with the degree of substitutability being small

  • skilled labor is more likely to be complementary with capital than unskilled labor.


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Application: Minimum Wage Laws

History of minimum wages.

  • Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938:

    • minimum wage

    • requirements for overtime pay premium

    • restrictions on use of child labor

  • Minimum wage provisions in 1938

    • $.25 per hour

    • covered 43 percent of all nonsupervisory wage and salary workers

    • coverage limited primarily to large firms involved in interstate commerce.

    • minimum wage is stated in nominal terms and is not indexed.

    • changes in the minimum wage currently require legislative action.


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The minimum wage today

  • $7.25 federal minimum

    • Some states have higher than federal minimum

    • Various minimum wage exceptions apply

      • workers with disabilities

      • full-time students

      • youth under age 20 in first 90 days of empl

      • tipped employees

      • student-learners.

    • Who Earns the Minimum Wage?


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Real value of minimum wage


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Application: Minimum Wage Laws

  • The debate over the desirability of a minimum wage hike turns on:

    • Elasticity of labor demand

    • Who earns the minimum wage (effect on family poverty rates)

    • Would a minimum wage hike hurt training and reduce future wage growth?

    • Monopsony power.

    • Short run versus long run?


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Application: Minimum Wage Laws

Monopsony & minimum wage

MEL

LS

W2

W1

MRP

L1


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Application: Minimum Wage Laws

Monopsony & minimum wage

  • With monopsony, what is

    • Level of employment

    • Wage?

  • With minimum wage between W1 & W2, what happens to employment?

  • With minimum wage above W2, what happens to employment?

  • How does elasticity of LD affect employment response?


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