Labour market adjustment to economic downturns in the Catalan textile industry, 1880-1910: did employers breach implicit contracts?
AbstractThis paper studies the way workers and firms behaved in a highly cyclical sector such as the cotton textile industry, which encompassed 1/5 of the Catalan industrial workforce in the early 20th century. Using firm level evidence from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the paper shows that, in spite of weak unionisation and the lack of regional or local collective bargaining institutions, piece rates in cotton spinning and weaving were not subject to competitive rate cuts and remained fixed over the cycle. When facing a negative demand shock, firms adjusted by reducing output, hours of work, labour productivity and employment. I argue that in the Catalan case the stability of piece rate lists depended on a highly flexible labour market for female workers, limiting the pressure of unemployed workers on prevailing wages.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 22333.
Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N0 - Economic History - - General
- J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- O52 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
- B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hanes, Christopher, 1993. "The Development of Nominal Wage Rigidity in the Late 19th Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 732-56, September.
- Gibbons, Robert, 1987.
"Piece-Rate Incentive Schemes,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 413-29, October.
- Huberman, Michael, 1986. "Invisible Handshakes in Lancashire: Cotton Spinning in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(04), pages 987-998, December.
- Sundstrom, William A., 1990. "Was There a Golden Age of Flexible Wages? Evidence from Ohio Manufacturing, 1892–1910," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 309-320, June.
- Huberman,Michael, 2010.
"Escape from the Market,"
Cambridge University Press, number 9780521142663, April.
- Huberman, Michael, 1991. "How did labor markets work in lancashire? more evidence on prices and quantities in cotton spinning, 1822-1852," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 87-120, January.
- Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 2000. "Worker Cooperation and the Ratchet Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 1-19, January.
- Saxonhouse, Gary R, 1977. "Productivity Change and Labor Absorption in Japanese Cotton Spinning, 1891-1935," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 195-219, May.
- Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
- Lazonick, William, 1979. "Industrial Relations and Technical Change: The Case of the Self-Acting Mule," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(3), pages 231-62, September.
- Tim Leunig, 2003. "Piece rates and learning: understanding work and production in the New England textile industry a century ago," Economic History Working Papers 22360, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lucy Ayre on behalf of EH Dept.).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.