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Labor Economics

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What Response from U.S. Economic Policy?

It is no surprise that many fearful American workers see the call center operator in Bangalore or the factory worker in Guangzhou as a threat to their jobs. The emergence of China and India (along with other, smaller developing countries) as economic powers has doubled the supply of labor to the integrated world economy.

Winner of the 1998 Leo Melamed Prize sponsored by theJournal of BusinessContrary to popular opinion, human resources, in general, and personnel, in particular, are well-suited to economic analysis. Edward Lazear, who founded the subfield of personnel economics, provides a quick introduction for economists who have not studied the area.

Job Creation and Job Destruction in a Growing Economy

Every working day in the United States, 90,000 jobs disappear--and an equal number are created. This discovery has radically altered the way economists think about how labor markets work. Without this necessary phenomenon of "creative destruction," our economies would experience much lower growth. Unemployment is a natural consequence of a vigorous economy--and is in fact indispensable to it.

In this pithy and provocative book, noted economist Daniel Cohen offers his analysis of the global shift to a post-industrial era. If it was once natural to speak of industrial society, Cohen writes, it is more difficult to speak meaningfully of post-industrial “society.” The solidarity that once lay at the heart of industrial society no longer exists. The different levels of large industrial enterprises have been systematically disassembled: tasks considered nonessential are assigned to subcontractors; engineers are grouped together in research sites, apart from the workers.

The multinational firm and its main vehicle, foreign direct investment, are key forces in economic globalization. Their importance to the world economy can be seen in the fact that since 1990 foreign direct investment has grown more rapidly than the world GDP and world trade. Despite this, the causes and consequences of multinational firm activity are little understood and until recently relatively unexamined in the theoretical literature.

Contract Theory by Patrick Bolton and Mathias Dewatripont, a comprehensive textbook on contract theory suitable for use at the graduate and advanced undergraduate levels, covers the areas of agency theory, information economics, and organization theory and presents many applications in all areas of economics, especially labor economics, industrial organization, and corporate finance.

The core mechanism that drives economic growth in modern market economies is massive microeconomic restructuring and factor reallocation--the Schumpeterian "creative destruction" by which new technologies replace the old. At the microeconomic level, restructuring is characterized by countless decisions to create and destroy production arrangements. The efficiency of these decisions depends in large part on the existence of sound institutions that provide a proper transactional environment.

Globalization and Environmental, Safety, and Labor Regulations at Sea

Shipping is among the most globalized of industries. Shipowners can choose where to register their vessels, based on cost, convenience, and the international and domestic regulations that would govern their operation. This system of open registration, also known as flags of convenience (FOC), can encourage a competition in regulatory laxity among states that want to attract shipping revenues--a race to the regulatory bottom. In Flagging Standards, Elizabeth DeSombre examines the effect of globalization on environmental, safety, and labor standards in the shipping industry.

A Working Families' Agenda for America

Many American families have not prospered in the new "knowledge economy." The layoffs, restructurings, and wage and benefit cuts that have followed the short-lived boom of the 1990s threaten our deeply held values of justice, fairness, family, and work. These values -- and not those superficial ones political pollsters ask about -- are the foundation of the American dream of good jobs, fair pay, and opportunities for all.

High unemployment in many European OECD countries has been attributed to factors ranging from rigid wages and low job mobility to an interaction of high taxes and generous social benefits that may discourage labor force participation and encourage the growth of an underground economy. This CESifo volume analyzes the effect of tax policy and, more generally, welfare state incentives, on the performance of the labor market.

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