Parasitic-Industries Analysis and Arguments for a Living Wage for Women in the Early Twentieth-Century United States
This paper examines arguments by activists and economists surrounding attempts to establish minimum wages for women in the United States in the Progressive Era. In particular, the paper focuses on analyses based on Beatrice and SidneyWebbs' argument that industries paying less than a living wage were "parasitic" on the society, a net drain on macro-efficiency. This analysis, widely accepted among economists of the time, viewed women as particularly vulnerable workers facing labor markets that were institutionally constructed and predatory. Unequal gender roles, employer power, and the absence of collective bargaining could all result in wages that were socially unacceptable as well as economically nonoptimal. These debates offer insights for modern feminist wage theories, and for current living wage campaigns.
Volume (Year): 5 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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