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Can Union Labor Ever Cost Less?

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  • Steven G. Allen

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of unions on efficiency by estimating cost function systems over three different sets of construction projects. The results show that union contractors have greater economies of scale. This gives them a cost advantage in large commercial office buildings, but in school and hospital construction, nonunion contractors have lower costs at all output levels. Despite the cost differences, profits for nonunion contractors in school and hospital construction are no higher than those for union contractors because the burden of higher union costs is shifted to buyers.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2019.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2019.

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Date of creation: Feb 1988
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2019

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  1. Christensen, Laurits R & Greene, William H, 1976. "Economies of Scale in U.S. Electric Power Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 655-76, August.
  2. Yotopoulos, Pan A & Lau, Lawrence J, 1973. "A Test for Relative Economic Efficiency: Some Further Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 214-23, March.
  3. Ruback, Richard S & Zimmerman, Martin B, 1984. "Unionization and Profitability: Evidence from the Capital Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1134-57, December.
  4. Lau, Lawrence J., 1978. "Applications of Profit Functions," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 1, chapter 3 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  5. Allen, Steven G, 1983. "Much Ado about Davis-Bacon: A Critical Review and New Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 707-36, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Fernàndez-de-Córdoba, Gonzalo & Pérez, Javier J. & Torres, José L., 2009. "Public and private sector wages interactions in a general equilibrium model," Working Paper Series 1099, European Central Bank.
  2. Kevin Duncan & Peter Philips & Mark Prus, 2006. "Prevailing wage legislation and public school construction efficiency: a stochastic frontier approach," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(6), pages 625-634.
  3. Daniel P. Kessler & Lawrence Katz, 1999. "Prevailing Wage Laws and Construction Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 7454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lamarche, Carlos, 2013. "Industry-Wide Work Rules and Productivity: Evidence from Argentine Union Contract Data," IZA Discussion Papers 7673, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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