Trade Unions, Market Concentration and Income Distribution in United States Manufacturing Industry
The question of what effect if any trade unions have on the functional distribution of income is an old one. Conventional production theory suggests that the presence of a monopoly element on the supply side of a particular labour market may well raise wages but in the long run any factor substitution away from labour would have an ambiguous effect on the factor income distribution depending on the value of the elasticity of substitution. Distribution gains would only accrue to labour under conditions of inelastic factor substitutability (see, for example, Addison & Siebert 1979). A considerable body of econometric research (surveyed in King and regan 1976) has given general credence to the view that the elasticity of substitution between capital and labour, using cross sectional analysis, is equal to one across a large array of different industries. Adoption of this "stylised" fact leads to the conclusion that a rise in the price of labour would cause such a substitution from labour to capital as to leave the functional distribution unaffected. One might therefore conclude that trades unions can have little or no effect on income distribution.
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