Coercive Contract Enforcement: Law and the Labor Market in Nineteenth Century Industrial Britain
AbstractBritish Master and Servant law made employee contract breach a criminal offense until 1875. We develop a contracting model generating equilibrium contract breach and prosecutions, then exploit exogenous changes in output prices to examine the effects of labor demand shocks on prosecutions. Positive shocks in the textile, iron, and coal industries increased prosecutions. Following the abolition of criminal sanctions, wages differentially rose in counties that had experienced more prosecutions, and wages responded more to labor demand shocks. Coercive contract enforcement was applied in industrial Britain; restricted mobility allowed workers to commit to risk-sharing contracts with lower, but less volatile, wages. (JEL J31, J41, K12, K31, N33, N43)
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.
Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
- K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
- K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law
- N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
- N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
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