The Task of Contemporary Wage Theory

  • John T. Dunlop
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)


The high purpose of these sessions is symbolized by a passage from Michael Polanyi:

Science is not conducted by isolated efforts like those of the chess players or shellers of peas and could make no progress that way. If one day all communications were cut between scientists, that day science would practically come to a standstill. … The co-ordinative principle of science … consists in the adjustment of each scientist’s activities to the results hitherto achieved by others. In adjusting himself to the others each scientist acts independently, yet by virtue of these several adjustments scientists keep extending together with a maximum efficiency the achievements of science as a whole.1


Labour Market Labour Supply Wage Rate Product Market Real Wage 
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  1. 1.
    For a discussion of the problems of dating periods, see Joseph A. Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis (1954), pp. 379–380.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See T. S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution, 1760–1830 (1948); ‘Some Statistics of the Industrial Revolution in Britain’, Manchester School, May 1948; ‘The Standard of Life of Workers in England, 1790–1830’, Tasks of Economic History, supplement ix (1949);Google Scholar
  3. Arthur D. Gayer, W. W. Rostow, Anna Jacobson Schwartz, The Growth and Fluctuation of the British Economy, 1790–1850 (1953), 2 vols., pp. 657–658. Also see I. A. Hayek (ed.), Capitalism and the Historians (1954).Google Scholar
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    See David Ricardo, Preface to Principles, Piero Sraffa, ed., The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo (1951), vol. i, p. xlviii.Google Scholar
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    See Lionel Robbins, The Theory of Economic Policy in English Classical Political Economy (1953).Google Scholar
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    See T. W. Hutchison, A Review of Economic Doctrines, 1870–1929 (1953), ch. 1;Google Scholar
  7. Gustav Cassel, The Theory of Social Economy, translated by S. L. Barron (1932), pp. 298–370.Google Scholar
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    See George J. Stigler, Production and Distribution Theories (1941), and T. W. Hutchison, Economic Doctrines.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, ‘Macht oder ökonömisches Gesetz’, Zeitschrift für Volkswirtschaft, Sozialpolitik und Verwaltung (December 1914), pp. 205–271, translated by J. R. Mez (1931), mimeographed;Google Scholar
  10. A. C. Pigou, Principles and Methods of Industrial Peace (1905);Google Scholar
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  12. 1.
    See Paul A. Samuelson, Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947), pp. 57–89.Google Scholar
  13. 2.
    Dennis H. Robertson, ‘Wage Grumbles’, reprinted in Readings in the Theory of Income Distribution (1946), pp. 221–236.Google Scholar
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    See Lloyd G. Reynolds, ‘Economics of Labor’, A Survey of Contemporary Economics, Howard S. Ellis, ed. (1948), pp. 255–287.Google Scholar
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    See National Planning Association, Fundamentals of Labor Peace, A Final Report (December 1953);Google Scholar
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    See Gladys L. Palmer, Labor Mobility in Six Cities: A Report on the Survey of Patterns and Factors in Labor Mobility, 1940–1950 (1954).Google Scholar
  18. 1.
    See Leo Wolman, ‘Wages in the United States since 1914’, Industrial Relations Research Association, Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting (December 28–30, 1953), pp. 40–46.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, the reception and reviews of The Impact of the Union, David McCord Wright, ed. (1951).Google Scholar
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    Consider one illustration. ‘The strong pressure of unions for higher wages, however, has undoubtedly helped to raise the standard of living because this pressure has forced management to work harder to keep down labor costs and has thereby accelerated technological progress. ‘— Sumner H. Slichter, What’s Ahead for American Business (1951), p. 13.Google Scholar
  21. Compare this statement with a long chain of precedents: J. W. F. Rowe, Wages in Practice and Theory (1928), pp. 215–225;Google Scholar
  22. H. L. Moore, Laws of Wages, An Essay in Statistical Economics (1911), p. 189.Google Scholar
  23. The history of this idea is interrelated with the effects of a wage change on the efficiency of labour. Refer to Alfred Marshall, Elements of Economics of Industry (1893), pp. 408–410;Google Scholar
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    See Arthur M. Ross, Trade Union Wage Policy (1948).Google Scholar
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    For an imaginative discussion on the concept of labour market, see Clark Kerr, ‘The Balkanization of Labor Markets’, Labor Mobility and Economic Opportunity (1954), pp. 92–110. The present discussion would add to that of Professor Kerr the emphasis that the scope of product markets is reflected back into the labour market defining the scope of wage setting.Google Scholar
  27. 1.
    See John T. Dunlop and Melvin Rothbaum, ‘International Comparisons of Wage Structures’, International Labour Review (April 1955).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Economic Association 1957

Authors and Affiliations

  • John T. Dunlop
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityUSA

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