Freedom, Servitude and Voluntary Contract
We present a framework to revisit and reframe some important debates over the nature of free versus unfree labor and the economic consequences of emancipation. We use a simple general equilibrium model in which labor can be either free or coerced and where land and labor will be exchanged on markets that can be competitive or manipulated or via other non-market collusive arrangements. Tied labor-service contracts and other forms of 'servility' clauses are 'necessary' only as a strategy to help landlords sustain a collusive arrangement to pay workers wages below their marginal product. We discuss two purported paradoxed that have been stressed in the literature: the paradox of immiserizing emancipation (that explains why total output fell in so many post-emancipation societies) and the paradox of bans (that claims that interference with workers freedom to enter into voluntary contracts can only be Pareto-decreasing. We argue that while these paradoxes are generally valid when examined in the context of simpler bilateral contracting situations, they fail to consider important general equilibrium considerations.
|Date of creation:||2005|
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Web page: http://econ.hunter.cuny.edu/
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- Jonathan Conning & James A. Robinson, 2005. "Property Rights and the Political Organization of Agriculture," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 405, Hunter College Department of Economics.
- Goldin, Claudia, 1988.
"Maximum Hours Legislation and Female Employment: A Reassessment,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 189-205, February.
- Goldin, Claudia, 1988. "Maximum Hours Legislation and Female Employment: A Reassessment," Scholarly Articles 2645471, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Deardorff, Alan V, 2001. "Rich and Poor Countries in Neoclassical Trade and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 277-294, April.
- Deardorff, A.V., 1997. "Rich and Poor Countries in Neoclassical Trade and Growth," Working Papers 402, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
- Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
- Basu, Kaushik, 1986. "One Kind of Power," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 259-282, July.
- Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1995. "Power, distortions, revolt and reform in agricultural land relations," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 2659-2772 Elsevier.
- Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1993. "Power, distortions, revolt, and reform in agricultural land relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1164, The World Bank.
- George Akerlof, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617.
- Jonathan Conning, 2004. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom and the Roads to Agrarian Capitalism: Domar's Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 401, Hunter College Department of Economics.
- Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
- Stanley Engerman, 2003. "Slavery, Freedom, And Sen," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 185-211.
- repec:fth:michin:402 is not listed on IDEAS Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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