Wage determination in perfect and imperfect markets Perfect competition In perfect labor markets, everyone is wage taker – both the employee and the employer. On the one hand, the employer and his firm cannot control the market as there are too numerous firms and the firm is price taker on the product market and labor market. On the other hand, the workers cannot control their wage as they have no economic power to do so or they are of a clearly definite type.
In perfect competition there is a free movement of labor. Everyone can enter the labor market or to switch jobs. Moreover, both workers and employers have enough information on the labor market state – wages, demand, productive level of workers etc. The most common thinking in labor markets is that all workers in the same position are equally There are two driving forces concerning the supply of hours by an individual worker – while working, the worker sacrifices its leisure time and the work may be unpleasant.
The worker experiences marginal disutility of work, which tends to increase as work hours increase. To deal with the marginal disutility of work, a wage could be raised. This would lead to people willing to work more hours in order to have a greater income and they are ready to sacrifice their leisure time or in other words the substitution effect appears. Still, with higher wages people tend to work less in order to have more leisure, which is the income effect and as a result we meet the backward-bending supply curve of labor.
What determines wage rates in perfect competition is the number of qualified people, the wages and non-wage benefits in alternative jobs and the non-wage benefits or costs of the jobs. The wage of a worker is measured by the interaction of demand and supply in the labor market. A very useful tool for calculating the wage rate is the marginal productivity theory. As long as firms are concerned, they will try to maximize profit by employing workers until the marginal cost of employing a worker is equal to the marginal revenue the worker’s output earns for the firm.
In other words, the wage should be equal to the marginal cost the firm has occurred by employing the last worker. According to time some differentiations might be made. In the short run expanding industries will be able to pay higher than contracting industries. In the long run there are wage differentials because workers have different abilities and they are not perfectly mobile. In conclusion, the low paid will be those whose labor is in low demand or high supply, they possess few skills or are unfit, work in contracting industries, do not want to move from the area etc.
Highly paid are workers whose labor is in high demand or low supply, they have certain skills or talents or work in expanding industries. Wage determination in imperfect markets In the real world, firms or workers, or both, usually have the power to influence wage rates. This is the case with monopsony – this is a market with a single buyer or employer. Another option to determine prices is when the workers are part of a labor union, which can be a monopolist or part of an oligopoly. Monopsonist are wage setters or wage makers as they are represent all the workplaces.
What is interesting about monopsonist is that if a firm wants to hire more workers, it has to pay a higher wage rate to attract workers away from other industries. The wage it pays is the average cost to the firm of employing labor and the marginal cost of hiring one more worker will be above the wage rate. To maximize profit, a monopson equalizes marginal cost of employing labor with marginal revenue product. Union monopoly or oligopoly has market power and can influence wages. The scope of this power depends on the market concerned.
However, the higher the wages, the less the workplaces. Moreover, unemployed might undercut the union wage by forcing the firm to employ non-unionised labor. The only way to increase wages and not reduce the level of employment is by increasing the productivity of labor. Another form of imperfect labor market Is bilateral monopoly. It means that a union monopoly faces a monopsony employer. In this case the wage rate and the level of employment depend on the relative bargaining strengths and skills of unions and managers.
As a matter of fact, my facing a single powerful employer it might be easier for the union to increase wage rates. In bilateral monopoly the union can threaten the industry with strikes and consequently economic losses which gives unions more power. It often happens both sides – union and management, to gain from the carried negotiations. This is called collective bargaining. In this form of agreement there are various threats or promises made by both sides. Examples of union threats are – picketing, working to rule and such of employers can be lock-outs, plant closures etc.
The government can also influence the collective bargaining. It can try to set an example, or set up arbitration or conciliation machinery. Another possibility is to use leglislation, e. g. set a minimum wage rate or prevent discrimination. To change the perspective, a higher wage might also be profitable for the firms. The reason behind this lies in the fact that productivity rises with wage rates. Moreover, by investing in training of the personnel, a firm will meet significant loss in the absence of the better-trained workers.
High wage rates motivate workers as well. Other imperfections of labor markets can be the inadequate information workers or employers receive. In addition, wages may respond very slowly to change in demand and supply, causing disequilibrium in labor markets. The last factor in determining wages we are going to examine is discrimination. It might take many forms – race, sex, age, class etc. In economics, discrimination means that workers of identical ability are paid different because of the aforementioned characteristics.
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