What Causes The Labor Supply Curve To Shift

The labor supply curve shifts whenever people change the amount they want to work at a given wage. Let's now consider some of the events that might cause such a shift.

Changes i n Tastes In 1950, 34 percent of women were employed at paid jobs or looking for work. In 1998, the number had risen to 60 percent. There are, of course, many explanations for this development, but one of them is changing tastes, or attitudes toward work. A generation or two ago, it was the norm for women to stay at home while raising children. Today, family sizes are smaller, and more mothers choose to work. The result is an increase in the supply of labor.

Changes in Alternative Opportunities The supply of labor in any one labor market depends on the opportunities available in other labor markets. If the wage earned by pear pickers suddenly rises, some apple pickers may choose to switch occupations. The supply of labor in the market for apple pickers falls.

Immigration Movements of workers from region to region, or country to country, is an obvious and often important source of shifts in labor supply. When immigrants come to the United States, for instance, the supply of labor in the United States increases and the supply of labor in the immigrants' home countries contracts. In fact, much of the policy debate about immigration centers on its effect on labor supply and, thereby, equilibrium in the labor market.

I QUICK QUIZ: Who has a greater opportunity cost of enjoying leisure—a janitor or a brain surgeon? Explain. Can this help explain why doctors work such long hours?

So far we have established two facts about how wages are determined in competitive labor markets:

♦ The wage adjusts to balance the supply and demand for labor.

♦ The wage equals the value of the marginal product of labor.

0 0

Post a comment