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Is There Monopsony in the Labor Market? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Douglas Staiger
  • Joanne Spetz
  • Ciaran Phibbs

Abstract

A variety of recent theoretical and empirical advances have renewed interest in monopsonistic models of the labor market. However, there is little direct empirical support for these models, even in labor markets that are textbook examples of monopsony. We use an exogenous change in wages at Veterans Affairs hospitals as a natural experiment to investigate the extent of monopsony in the nurse labor market. In contrast to much of the prior literature, we estimate that labor supply to individual hospitals is quite inelastic, with short-run elasticity around 0.1. We also find that non-VA hospitals responded to the VA wage change by changing their own wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas Staiger & Joanne Spetz & Ciaran Phibbs, 1999. "Is There Monopsony in the Labor Market? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7258
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael R Ransom & David P. Sims, 2010. "Estimating the Firm's Labor Supply Curve in a "New Monopsony" Framework: Schoolteachers in Missouri," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 331-355, April.
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    5. Sullivan, Daniel, 1989. "Monopsony Power in the Market for Nurses," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 135-178, October.
    6. Green, Francis & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1996. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect: Can Dynamic Monopsony Provide an Explanation?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(3), pages 433-455, July.
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    8. William M. Boal, 1995. "Testing for Employer Monopsony in Turn-of-the-Century Coal Mining," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(3), pages 519-536, Autumn.
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    10. Bhaskar, V & To, Ted, 1999. "Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 190-203, April.
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    12. 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.
    13. Jordan D. Matsudaira, 2014. "Monopsony in the Low-Wage Labor Market? Evidence from Minimum Nurse Staffing Regulations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 92-102, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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