Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

A Microeconomic Analysis of Slavery in Comparison to Free Labor Economies

Contents:

Author Info

  • Haluk I. Ergin

    (Bilkent University)

  • Serdar Sayan

    (Bilkent University)

Abstract

In addition to supervision costs, the labor cost of an enterprise (plantation) in the system of slavery consists of the cost of acquiring the slaves and the subsistence compensation given out to the slaves. In this paper, we leave aside the issue of supervision costs previously taken up in the theoretical literature on slavery, and focus on these two peculiar components of labor costs. We analyze the implications of this cost structure on the levels of profitability, efficiency and determination of equilibrium wages, and compare them to systems with free labor markets, along a continuum of demand side Cournotic competition. For this purpose, we first use a model characterized by a decreasing returns to scale technology, and show, parallel to the findings of Vedder, et. al. (1990), that the equilibrium subsistence wage in the system of slavery is strictly lower than the marginal product of labor. We then extend the model, given the same technology and preferences, to free labor markets covering possibilities ranging from monopsony to perfect competition in the limit, and obtain a second and perhaps more striking result: Differently from equilibria in imperfectly competitive free labor markets, slavery and perfect competition equilibria are Pareto optimal. Furthermore, our comparisons across labor market scenarios suggest that the resistance of slaveholders to the abolishment of slavery is directly related to the expected level of demand side competition in the free labor market which would replace slavery. Finally, we show that the conclusions derived from our analysis would remain generally valid under a constant returns to scale technology as well.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/eh/papers/9710/9710001.html
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/eh/papers/9710/9710001.pdf
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/eh/papers/9710/9710001.ps.gz
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Economic History with number 9710001.

as in new window
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 01 Oct 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9710001

Note: Type of Document - Word for Windows 6.0; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP Laser Jet IV; pages: 26 ; figures: Request from Author. On line version of Bilkent University Economics Department Discussion Paper No. 97-08
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: Economics of Slavery vs. Free Labor Systems Labor Economics Perfect Competition vs. Oligopsony and Monopsony in Labor Markets.;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
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.:
as in new window
  1. Wright, Gavin, 1979. "The Efficiency of Slavery: Another Interpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 219-26, March.
  2. Findlay, Ronald, 1975. "Slavery, Incentives, and Manumission: A Theoretical Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(5), pages 923-33, October.
  3. Haskell, Thomas L, 1979. "Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South: A Reply to Fogel-Engerman," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 206-07, March.
  4. Fogel, Robert W & Engerman, Stanley L, 1977. "Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 275-96, June.
  5. Chwe, Michael Suk-Young, 1990. "Why Were Workers Whipped? Pain in a Principal-Agent Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1109-21, December.
  6. Field, Elizabeth B, 1988. "The Relative Efficiency of Slavery Revisited: A Translog Production Function Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 543-49, June.
  7. Fogel, Robert W & Engerman, Stanley L, 1980. "Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 672-90, September.
  8. David, Paul A & Temin, Peter, 1979. "Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 213-18, March.
  9. Roger L. Ransom and Richard Sutch., 1988. "Capitalists Without Capital: The Burden of Slavery and the Impact of Emancipation," Economics Working Papers 8867, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Schaefer, Donald F & Schmitz, Mark D, 1979. "The Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture: A Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 208-12, March.
  11. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1984. "Slavery and Supervision in Comparative Perspective: A Model," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 635-668, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9710001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.