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Monopsony Power in Higher Education: A Tale of Two Tracks

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  • Austan Goolsbee
  • Chad Syverson

Abstract

This paper tests for and measures monopsony power in the U.S. higher education labor market. It does so by directly estimating the residual labor supply curves facing individual four-year colleges and universities using school-specific labor demand instruments. The results indicate that schools have significant monopsony power over their tenure track faculty. Its magnitude is monotonic in rank, being greatest over full professors and smaller for associate and assistant professors. For non-tenure track faculty, however, universities do not seem to have any monopsony power and instead face perfectly elastic residual labor supply curves. Universities’ market power over tenure track faculty does not differ between public and private schools nor between female and male faculty. Monopsony power is greater for larger universities, and the geographic market for faculty seems to be national rather than local. Monopsony power is also larger at higher-status institutions as measured by Carnegie classifications, average test scores of the undergraduate student body, or initial salary rankings. The results also suggest that monopsony power has contributed to the trend toward non-tenure track faculty in U.S.

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  • Austan Goolsbee & Chad Syverson, 2019. "Monopsony Power in Higher Education: A Tale of Two Tracks," NBER Working Papers 26070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26070
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    3. Baker, Michael & Halberstam, Yosh & Kroft, Kory & Mas, Alexandre & Messacar, Derek, 2024. "The impact of unions on wages in the public sector: Evidence from higher education," CLEF Working Paper Series 67, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    4. Steven C. Salop & Fiona Scott Morton, 2021. "The 2010 HMGs Ten Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 58(1), pages 81-101, February.
    5. Shubhdeep Deb & Jan Eeckhout & Aseem Patel & Lawrence Warren, 2022. "What Drives Wage Stagnation: Monopsony or Monopoly?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 20(6), pages 2181-2225.
    6. Dearing, Adam, 2022. "Estimating structural demand and supply models using tax rates as instruments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 205(C).
    7. Amodio, Francesco & Medina, Pamela & Morlacco, Monica, 2022. "Labor Market Power, Self-Employment, and Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 17543, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Chau, Nancy H. & Kanbur, Ravi & Soundararajan, Vidhya, 2022. "Employer Power and Employment in Developing Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 15514, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Shubhdeep Deb & Jan Eeckhout & Aseem Patel & Lawrence Warren, 2022. "What Drives Stagnation: Monopsony or Monopoly?," Working Papers 22-45, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    10. Luan, Mengna & Tao, Zhigang & Yuan, Hongjie, 2023. "Monopsony power and workers’ switching costs: Evidence from hospitals in China," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 233(C).
    11. Barbara Biasi & Song Ma, 2022. "The Education-Innovation Gap," CESifo Working Paper Series 9653, CESifo.
    12. Hashmat Khan & Konstantinos Metaxoglou, 2021. "The Behavior of the Aggregate U.S. Wage Markdown," Carleton Economic Papers 21-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    13. Elizabeth Lyons & Laurina Zhang, 2023. "Salary transparency and gender pay inequality: Evidence from Canadian universities," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(8), pages 2005-2034, August.
    14. Lagos, Lorenzo, 2024. "Union Bargaining Power and the Amenity-Wage Tradeoff," IZA Discussion Papers 17034, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets

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