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Exploitation of Labor? Classical Monopsony Power and Labor's Share

Author

Listed:
  • Wyatt J. Brooks
  • Joseph P. Kaboski
  • Yao Amber Li
  • Wei Qian

Abstract

How important is the exercise of classical monopsony power against labor for the level of wages and labor's share? We examine this in the context of China and India – two large, rapidly-growing developing economies. Using theory, we develop a novel screen to quantify how wages are affected by market power exerted in labor markets, either by a single firm or a group of cooperating firms. The theory guides the measurement of labor “markdowns”, i.e., the gap between wage and the value of the marginal product of labor, and the screen examines how they comove with local labor market share and the share of cooperating firms. Applying this test, we find that markdowns substantially lower the labor share: by up to 10 percentage points in China and 15 percentage points in India. This impact has fallen over time in both countries as firm concentration in these labor markets has decreased.

Suggested Citation

  • Wyatt J. Brooks & Joseph P. Kaboski & Yao Amber Li & Wei Qian, 2019. "Exploitation of Labor? Classical Monopsony Power and Labor's Share," NBER Working Papers 25660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25660
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    Cited by:

    1. David Berger & Kyle Herkenhoff & Simon Mongey, 2018. "Labor Market Power," 2018 Meeting Papers 170, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Quint Wiersma, 2019. "The impact of WTO accession on Chinese firms' product and labor market power," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-037/V, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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