Alternative wage level explanation

Efficiency wages(Wikipedia):

“the efficiency wage hypothesis argues that wages, at least in some markets, are determined by more than simply supply and demand. Specifically, it points to the incentive for managers to pay their employees more than the market-clearing wage in order to increase their productivity or efficiency. This increased labor productivity pays for the higher wages. Because workers are paid more than the equilibrium wage, there will be unemployment. Efficiency wages are therefore a market failure explanation of unemployment – in contrast to theories which emphasize government intervention (such as minimum wages)”

Exemplified by Fordism:

“Raff and Summers (1987) conduct a case study on Henry Ford’s introduction of the five dollar day in 1914. Their conclusion is that the Ford experience supports efficiency wage interpretations. Ford’s decision to increase wages so dramatically (doubling for most workers) is most plausibly portrayed as the consequence of efficiency wage considerations, with the structure being consistent, evidence of substantial queues for Ford jobs, and significant increases in productivity and profits at Ford. Concerns such as high turnover and poor worker morale appear to have played a significant role in the five-dollar decision. Ford’s new wage put him in the position of rationing jobs, and increased wages did yield substantial productivity benefits and profits. There is also evidence that other firms emulated Ford’s policy to some extent, with wages in the automobile industry 40% higher than in the rest of manufacturing (Rae 1965, quoted in Raff and Summers). Given low monitoring costs and skill levels on the Ford production line, such benefits (and the decision itself) appear particularly significant.”

The concept that minimum wage laws create unemployment seems bogus, so it is valuable to have an alternate explanation.

 

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