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Wal-Mart's monopsony power in metro and non-metro labor markets


  • Bonanno, Alessandro
  • Lopez, Rigoberto A.


This paper measures the potential degree of monopsony power that Wal-Mart can exert over retail workers using a dominant-firm model and nationwide, county-level data, presenting for the first time a measure of the company's potential anti-competitive behavior and detailed spatial impacts on wages, particularly for metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. Empirical results show that, at the national level, Wal-Mart's potential wage markdown below the competitive level amounts to less than 3% on average. However, the potential markdowns in non-metropolitan counties are three-fold those in metropolitan counties and are highest in non-metro areas of the south and central states but negligible in northeastern states.

Suggested Citation

  • Bonanno, Alessandro & Lopez, Rigoberto A., 2012. "Wal-Mart's monopsony power in metro and non-metro labor markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 569-579.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:42:y:2012:i:4:p:569-579 DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2012.02.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emek Basker, 2007. "When Good Instruments Go Bad," Working Papers 0706, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    2. Neumark, David & Zhang, Junfu & Ciccarella, Stephen, 2008. "The effects of Wal-Mart on local labor markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 405-430, March.
    3. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
    4. Basker, Emek, 2005. "Selling a cheaper mousetrap: Wal-Mart's effect on retail prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 203-229, September.
    5. Michael J Hicks, 2008. "Estimating Wal-Mart's Impacts in Maryland: A Test of Identification Strategies and Endogeneity Tests," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 56-73, Winter.
    6. Brown, Charles & Gilroy, Curtis & Kohen, Andrew, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 487-528, June.
    7. Daniel Aaronson & Eric French, 2007. "Product Market Evidence on the Employment Effects of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 167-200.
    8. Emek Basker & Michael Noel, 2009. "The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry into the Supermarket Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 977-1009, December.
    9. Michael J. Hicks, 2007. "Job Turnover and Wages in the Retail Sector: The Influence of Wal-Mart," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 22(Spring 20), pages 137-160.
    10. Daniel Aaronson & Eric French & James MacDonald, 2008. "The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 688-720.
    11. Hicks, Michael J. & Wilburn, Kristy L., 2001. "The Regional Impact of Wal-Mart Entrance: A Panel Study of the Retail Trade Sector in West Virginia," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 31(3), pages 305-313, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rebecca Cleary & Rigoberto Lopez, 2014. "Supermarket responses to Wal-Mart Supercenter expansion: a structural approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 905-925, November.
    2. Stapp, Jacob, 2014. "The Walmart Effect: Labor Market Implications in Rural and Urban Counties," SS-AAEA Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Wal-Mart; Wages; Buying Power; Monopsony; Metro; Non-metro;

    JEL classification:

    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce


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