This paper summarizes the results of nearly a dozen new papers presented at the Sundance Conference on Monopsony in Labor Markets held in October 2018. These papers, to be published as a special issue of the Journal of Human Resources, study various aspects of monopsony and failures of competition in labor markets. It also reports on the new developments in public policies associated with widespread concerns about labor market competition and efforts to ameliorate competitive failures. The conference papers range from studies of the labor supply elasticity individual firms face to studies of local labor market concentration to studies of explicit covenants suppressing labor market competition. New policies range from private and public antitrust litigation to concerns about the effect of mergers and inter-firm agreements on labor market competition. We provide a detailed discussion of the mechanics of the Silicon Valley High Tech Worker conspiracy to suppress competition based on Court documents in the case. Non-compete agreements, which are not enforceable in three states already, have also come under scrutiny.
Based on hourly wage rates from nearly all McDonald’s restaurants, and prices of the Big Mac sandwich, we find an elasticity of the wage with respect to the minimum wage of 0.7. This elasticity does not differ between affected and unaffected restaurants because many restaurants maintain a constant wage ‘premium’ above the minimum wage. Higher minimum wages are not associated with faster adoption of touch-screen ordering, and there is near-full price pass-through of minimum wages. Minimum wages lead to higher real wages (expressed in Big Macs per hour) that are one fifth lower than the corresponding increases in nominal wages.
One of the best documented relationships in economics is the link between education and
income: higher educated people have higher incomes. Advocates argue that education provides
skills, or human capital, that raises an individual‘s productivity. Critics argue that the documented
relationship is not causal. Education does not generate higher incomes; instead, individuals with
higher ability receive more education and more income. This essay reviews the evidence on the
relationship between education and income. We focus on recent studies that have attempted to
determine the casual effect of education on income by either comparing income and education
differences within families or using exogenous determinants of schooling in what are sometimes
called “natural experiments.” In addition, we assess the potential for education to reduce income
disparities by presenting evidence on the return to education for people of differing family
backgrounds and measured ability.
The results of all these studies are surprisingly consistent: they indicate that the return to
schooling is not caused by an omitted correlation between ability and schooling. Moreover, we ﬁnd
no evidence that the return to schooling differs signiﬁcantly by family background or by the
measured ability of the student.
We use information on retirement ﬂows over the 1986-96 period for older faculty at a
large sample of four year colleges and universities to measure the effect of the elimination of
Comparisons of retirement rates before and after 1994, when most institutions were
forced to stop mandatory retirement, suggest that the abolition of compulsory retirement led to a
dramatic drop in retirement rates at ages 70 and 7 1. Comparisons of retirement rates in the early
1990s between schools that were still enforcing mandatory retirement, and those that were forced
to stop by state laws, lead to the same conclusion. In the era of mandatory retirement, fewer than
10 percent of 70-year-old faculty were still teaching two years later. After the elimination of
mandatory retirement this fraction has risen to 50 percent. Our ﬁndings suggest that most U.S.
colleges and universities will experience a signiﬁcant rise in the fraction of older faculty in the
This paper contains a review of the early history of program evaluation research at the US Department of Labor. Some broad lessons for successful evaluation research are summarized.
Using data on adult male workers we first investigate the
incremental effect of a year of schooling on unemployed hours,
and use this calculation to explain the difference in the pro-
portional effects of schooling on earnings and wages. Schooling
apparently reduces unemployed hours by reducing the incidence of
unemployment spells, but it does not significantly affect their
duration. We next test whether unemployed hours represent
real constraints on worker behavior. To do this we develop
and estimate life—cycle models of labor supply for workers with
and without spells of unemployment using longitudinal data. The
results imply that perhaps three-quarters of the unemployed hours
of male workers are part of the offer to sell labor.