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Are Efficiency Wages Efficient?

Author

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  • William T. Dickens
  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Kevin Lang

Abstract

Efficiency wage models have been criticized because worker malfeasance can be prevented in a pareto efficient manner by requiring workers to post a bond which they lose if they are caught cheating. However, since it is costly to monitor workers and costless to demand a larger bond, firms should pay nothing for monitoring and demand very large bonds. Since we observe that firms devote considerable resources to monitoring workers, bonds must be limited. Therefore firms must use second best alternatives -- intensive monitoring and/or efficiency wages. The payment of efficiency wages cannot be ruled out on a priori theoretical grounds.

Suggested Citation

  • William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin Lang, 1986. "Are Efficiency Wages Efficient?," NBER Working Papers 1935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1935
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1935.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-620, September.
    2. Eaton, B Curtis & White, William D, 1982. "Agent Compensation and the Limits of Bonding," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(3), pages 330-343, July.
    3. Bulow, Jeremy I & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy,Discrimination, and Keynesian Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 376-414, July.
    4. Calvo, Guillermo, 1979. "Quasi-Walrasian Theories of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 102-107, May.
    5. Bowles, Samuel, 1985. "The Production Process in a Competitive Economy: Walrasian, Neo-Hobbesian, and Marxian Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 16-36, March.
    6. Carmichael, Lorne, 1985. "Can Unemployment Be Involuntary? Comment [Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1213-1214, December.
    7. Solow, Robert M., 1979. "Another possible source of wage stickiness," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 79-82.
    8. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-538, June.
    9. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 235-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Georgiadis, Andreas, 2008. "Efficiency wages and the economic effects of the minimum wage: evidence from a low-wage labour market," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19628, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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