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Wage Determination and Imperfect Competition

  • Booth, Alison L.


    (Australian National University)

A striking feature of the past few decades has been the development of wage-determination models that assume that labour markets are imperfectly competitive. This paper discusses two such models (trade unions and oligopsony), although there are many more. It also asks if imperfectly competitive models should be used whenever researchers are modelling the labour market. Some people would argue for this only in cases when the predictions and comparative statics of the imperfectly competitive model differ from those of the competitive model. Of course, to know this, one needs to know precisely what the predictions and comparative statics of the respective models are. Moreover, for policymakers to be able to determine if an intervention is required in the first place, there does need to be some analytical framework to act as a guide. In the perfectly competitive model of the labour markets, for example, typically no intervention or regulation would be justified. However, labour economics has moved far beyond this position, with the incorporation of new ideas into modeling wage determination in imperfectly competitive labour markets, and with the availability of better datasets to facilitate empirical investigation.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8034.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Labour Economics, 2014, 30, 53-58
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8034
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1999. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 539-572, June.
  2. Dobbelaere, Sabien & Mairesse, Jacques, 2007. "Panel data estimates of the production function and product and labor market imperfections," Working Paper Series 0782, European Central Bank.
  3. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten & Lembcke, Alexander C., 2008. "Union Density and Varieties of Coverage: The Anatomy of Union Wage Effects in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3356, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Alison L. Booth & Melvyn Coles, 2006. "A Microfoundation for Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation and the Under-Participation Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 543, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  6. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
  7. V. Bhaskar & Ted To, 1996. "Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition," Labor and Demography 9603001, EconWPA, revised 21 May 1996.
  8. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1999. "Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labour Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F112-42, February.
  9. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2004. "Training and the new minimum wage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C87-C94, 03.
  10. Alison L. Booth & Gylfi Zoega, 2004. "Is wage compression a necessary condition for firm-financed general training?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 88-97, January.
  11. Alan Manning, 2010. "Imperfect competition in the labour market," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28729, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
  13. Stewart, M.B., 1989. "Union Wage Differentials, Product Market Influences And The Division Of Rents," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 323, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  14. Grout, Paul A, 1984. "Investment and Wages in the Absence of Binding Contracts: A Nash Bargining Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 449-60, March.
  15. Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2005. "Testing Some Predictions of Human Capital Theory: New Training Evidence from Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 391-394, May.
  16. Walter Y. Oi, 1962. "Labor as a Quasi-Fixed Factor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 538.
  17. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  18. Alan Manning & Ted To, 2002. "Oligopsony and Monopsonistic Competition in Labor Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 155-174, Spring.
  19. Arulampalam, Wiji & Alison L Booth & Mark L Bryan, 2003. "Work-related Training and the New National Minimum Wage in Britain," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 9, Royal Economic Society.
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