The Evolution of Labor Markets

Authored by: Michael Huberman

Routledge Handbook of Modern Economic History

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415677042
eBook ISBN: 9780203075616
Adobe ISBN: 9781135121211


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Informed by labor economics and labor history, the economic history of labor markets is an alternative and unified approach to study the wage and employment relation. This broad field encompasses the nature, organization, and conditions of work, as well as the non-wage compensation labor earned. It is an alternative approach because, unlike the economics’ textbook model, the economic historian does not perceive the labor market as static. Rather, economic history provides a framework to examine the feedback mechanisms – the dynamic relation – between labor markets and technological change, business organization, government regulation, product markets, and the preferences of participants themselves. Put differently, history provides rich examples of the many margins of adjustment in labor markets across space and time, in addition to wage and employment dimensions.

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