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The Purchasing Power Argument – Could Rising Wages Foster Employment?

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  • Ulrich van Suntum

Abstract

The so-called purchasing power argument of wages (PPA), suggesting that rising wages could increase employment instead of reducing it, is examined within a general theoretical framework. While the demand side is modelled by means of a path-dependent Keynesian model with a Kaldorian saving function, a neoclassical production function is assumed on the supply side. It is shown that there is a core of truth in the PPA, if real wages are lower than marginal productivity of labour. While a temporary demand shock could indeed be overcome by rising wages, it is not possible, however, to outweigh a permanent slump in total demand by that way. Moreover, in contrast to conventional fiscal policy, wage rises according to the PPA imply both a rising price level and the danger of neoclassical unemployment. In an open economy, the relevance of the PPA is generally further reduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrich van Suntum, "undated". "The Purchasing Power Argument – Could Rising Wages Foster Employment?," Working Papers 200126, Institute of Spatial and Housing Economics, Munster Universitary.
  • Handle: RePEc:muc:wpaper:200126
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    File URL: http://www.wiwi.uni-muenster.de/cawm/forschen/Download/Diskbeitraege/DP_2_Can_rising_wages_foster_employment.pdf
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    1. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173, June.
    2. Pagano, Marco, 1990. "Imperfect Competition, Underemployment Equilibria and Fiscal Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 440-463, June.
    3. J¸rgen Jerger & Jochen Michaelis, 2003. "Wage Hikes as Supply and Demand Shock," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 434-457, November.
    4. Kalecki, Michal, 1971. "Class Struggle and the Distribution of National Income," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(1), pages 1-9.
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