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Training and Product Quality in Unionized Oligopolies

  • E. Bacchiega
  • A. Minniti

In this paper we analyze the private and public incentives towards skill acquisition when the skill level of workers determines the quality level of goods, and both labor and product markets are non competitive. We delve into the mechanisms that determine the equilibrium skill acquisition outcomes and show that both "pure" (training set by either firms or unions only) and "mixed" (training set by firms and unions) training scenarios may emerge at equilibrium. We show that firms have generally greater training incentives than unions, resulting in a higher product quality. In line with empirical evidence, we also find that the wage differential between high-skill workers and low-skill workers is lower when the training levels of the workforce are selected by unions than by firms. Finally, we analyze the optimal public training skill levels and demonstrate that both unions and firms under-invest in training in comparison with the social optimum. Yet, in this case the skill premium is the lowest.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number wp871.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp871
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1980. "Unionism and the dispersion of wages," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(1), pages 3-23, October.
  2. GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. & TURRINI, Alessandro, . "Workers' skills, product quality and industry equilibrium," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1451, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Boccard, N. & Wauthy, X.Y., 2010. "Equilibrium vertical differentiation in a Bertrand model with capacity precommitment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 288-297, May.
  4. Naylor, Robin, 1999. "Union Wage Strategies and International Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(452), pages 102-25, January.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 6740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Naylor, Robin, 1998. "International trade and economic integration when labour markets are generally unionised," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(7), pages 1251-1267, July.
  7. Greenaway, David, 1998. "Economic Geography, Comparative Advantage and Trade Within Industries: Evidence from the OECD," CEPR Discussion Papers 1857, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
  9. Joan Martín-Montaner & Vicente Ríos, 2002. "Vertical specialization and intra-industry trade: The role of factor endowments," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(2), pages 340-365, June.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 1998. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," CEPR Discussion Papers 1833, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1993. "Investments, Holdup, and the Form of Market Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 811-37, September.
  12. Emanuele Bacchiega, 2007. "Wage bargaining and vertical differentiation," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 35-52, March.
  13. Stevens, Margaret, 1994. "A Theoretical Model of On-the-Job Training with Imperfect Competition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(4), pages 537-62, October.
  14. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Training and Innovation in an Imperfect Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 445-64, July.
  15. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
  16. Edwin Leuven, 2005. "The Economics of Private Sector Training: A Survey of the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 91-111, 02.
  17. Naylor, Robin, 2000. "Trade and Wages When the Trade Regime Is Determined Endogenously," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 556-65, August.
  18. GABSZEWICZ, Jean & TURRINI, Alessandro, 1999. "Workers’skills and product selection," CORE Discussion Papers 1999006, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  19. Richard B. Freeman & James L. Medoff, 1979. "The Two Faces of Unionism," NBER Working Papers 0364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. GABSZEWICZ, Jean & TURRINI, Alessandro, 1997. "Workers’ skills, product quality and industry equilibrium," CORE Discussion Papers 1997055, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  21. Booth, Alison L & Chatterji, Monojit, 1998. "Unions and Efficient Training," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 328-43, March.
  22. Motta, Massimo, 1993. "Endogenous Quality Choice: Price vs. Quantity Competition," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 113-31, June.
  23. Toke Skovsgaard Aidt & Vania Sena, 2005. "Unions: Rent Creators or Extractors?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 103-121, 03.
  24. Webster, Allan, 1993. "The Skill and Higher Educational Content of UK Net Exports," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(2), pages 141-59, May.
  25. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-product Versus Within-product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 646-677, May.
  26. Courakis, Anthony S, 1991. "Labour Skills and Human Capital in the Explanation of Trade Patterns," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 443-62, July.
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