|Section 4: Factor Price Interferences|
|Microeconomics - Unit 4|
Examples of Government Price Controls
In most countries around the world when it comes to factor prices, there is a significant degree of government interference. In the labor market, the establishment of a minimum wage means that
salary caps (these are usually imposed by the league and not by the government). In most Muslim economies, businesses are not allowed to charge interest on money they lend. In most non-Muslim economies, interest rates are determined by the free market. However, countries' central banks and central monetary agencies heavily influence interest rates by controlling the money supply.
Price Interference in the Labor Market: the Minimum Wage
Politicians in industrialized countries often establish a minimum wage in most industries (some industries, for example, restaurant servers, are excluded, because they rely mostly on gratuities). The purpose of a minimum wage is to guarantee any worker a minimum level of income, so that the worker can live at a minimum level of subsistence. Supporters of the minimum wage fear that some businesses exploit workers by paying them a wage that is too low and that will not allow the workers to pay for essential living expenses. There are disadvantages to establishing a minimum wage, as well. The advantages and disadvantages of a government-established minimum wage are listed below.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Minimum Wage
1. Increase in minimum wage worker earnings.
2. More incentive to work.
3. Less chance for exploitation.
Disadvantages of a minimum wage that is set above the market wage include
1.Decrease in employment.
2. Increase in prices.
3. Lower profits.
4. Lower worker incentive.
Below is a graph of a market for labor. Businesses demand the labor. Citizens supply the labor. In a free market, the equilibrium wage is at the intersection of the demand and supply curves. If the government sets the minimum wage above the equilibrium wage, the quantity demanded of labor decreases, and the quantity supplied of labor increases. This results in a surplus of labor. Ceteris paribus (all other things remaining constant), this increases unemployment.
Labor Unions and Wages
Labor unions are supported by most industrialized governments and many pro-union labor laws. Unions protect workers' rights, and can serve a useful purpose in negotiating with a business that treats workers less than fair. However, unions can also contribute to above-market wages and higher prices. Their collective bargaining powers and strike threats push wage rates well above free market levels, raise prices, and often place companies at an internationally competitive disadvantage. Furthermore, unions' restrictions about what workers are allowed to do, how much they are allowed to work, and other unnecessary staffing requirements, lead to inefficiencies in production and raise businesses' cost of production. These inefficiencies may lead to long-run unemployment, as firms go bankrupt or move abroad.
Unions may be credited for improved working conditions and higher wages. However, improved working conditions and higher wages are only possible if firms can afford them. Only increased productivity and increased profits allow firms the means to improve working conditions and increase wages. When unions have suggested measures that have led to productivity improvements, it has been beneficial. But most of the time, unions suggest changes that may increase short-term employment, but hinder productivity and technological advances. Greater profits made possible by business investments, technology advances, and entrepreneurial initiatives have been the real cause of improvements in working conditions and better wages and benefits. This is because the greater profits have, over time, enabled businesses to afford these luxuries.
Raising Real Wages
Some economists believe that an artificial increase of workers' wages (such as an increase in the minimum wage beyond the equilibrium price, or union wage demands beyond what productivity increases warrant) is not the answer to the economic problems of low-income earners. They state that these artificial increases merely increase nominal wages, but not real wages.
How then can we achieve higher real wages?
How can we increase productivity?
And by providing a proper reward system in which taxes are low, regulations reasonable, and subsidies and handouts not excessive.
One of the keys to improving a country's standard of living is to increase real wages. Real wages increase with increases in a firm's productivity. Productivity is a function of technological advances. Technological advances are encouraged by a just reward system. A just reward system is one in which taxes and other costs of working and doing business (for example, regulations) are kept reasonably low.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 30 December 2012 09:56|