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The structure of wages in what should be a competitive labour market

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This paper examines the structure of wages in a very specific labour market, for care assistants in residential homes for the elderly on England''s "sunshine coast". This sector corresponds closely to economists'' notion of what should be a competitive labour market as: (i) there are a large number of small firms undertaking a very homogeneous activity in concentrated geographical areas; and (ii) the workers they employ are not unionized, nor are they covered by any minimum wage legislation so that there are effectively no external constraints on the wage-setting process. We find that the structure of wages does not, in important respects, resemble what we would expect in a competitive labour market. We find there is a small amount of wage dispersion within firms and a correspondingly large amount between firms. And, the wage dispersion that is present does not seem to be closely related to the productivity related characteristics of workers. We propose a test of the hypothesis that unobserved labour quality can explain our findings and reject it. The paper concludes with a discussion of other possible explanations of the patterns in our data.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/20080/1/The_Structure_of_Wages_in_What_Should_be_a_Competitive_Labour_Market.pdf

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