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Testing for Employer Monopsony in Turn-of-the-Century Coal Mining

  • William M. Boal
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    Isolated company towns are often cited as likely examples of labor monopsony. This article tests for monopsony power by estimating inverse labor supply elasticities using a county-level panel dataset on nonunion West Virginia coal mining from 1897 to 1932. The model specification incorporates dynamics in such a way that an estimate of the gap between marginal revenue product and the wage can easily be computed as a weighted average of short- and long-run inverse elasticities. Modest estimated short-run inverse elasticities and very small long-run inverse elasticities imply that coal operators enjoyed little, if any, monopsony power over their workers.

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    Article provided by The RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 26 (1995)
    Issue (Month): 3 (Autumn)
    Pages: 519-536

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    Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:26:y:1995:i:autumn:p:519-536
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