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Throughout much of the history of modern economics, the subject was given short shrift.Even stalwart supporters of the market economy glossed over the subject.
That translates into higher standards of living for all.
It is only in the last few decades, however, that economists have accepted the importance of property rights.
This Labor Day, EPI experts have contributed essays on remaining obstacles blocking workers looking for faster wage growth and greater economic opportunity.
These essays look beyond the relatively happy news of low unemployment in the very recent past and focus instead on the deep-seated economic roots of workers’ disempowerment.
That dominion over what is theirs leads property users to take full account of all the benefits and costs of employing those resources in a particular manner.
The process of weighing costs and benefits produces what economists call efficient outcomes.She points out that the shrinking share of workers who can bargain collectively as part of a union—which coincides with slowing wage growth—is not a natural outcome of market trends.Interest in being in a union is as high as ever, but union representation has fallen because of a decades-long assault on unions from conservative policymakers.Policymakers can, however, avoid recommending policies that undermine private property.The excuses for development failure are legion: lack of natural resources; insufficient funding of education, culture, religion, and history; and, recently, geographical location.Josh Bivens argues that wage growth happens if and only if policymakers make it a top priority.Recent months’ low unemployment will pay much larger dividends for workers going forward if it represents a genuine shift in how policymakers weigh the benefits of wage growth versus the risks of inflation, and if it is accompanied by policies that build—or restore—institutions that support workers’ bargaining power.The importance of having well-defined and strongly protected property rights is now widely recognized among economists and policymakers.A private property system gives individuals the exclusive right to use their resources as they see fit.They note the erosion in the federal minimum wage over time, and show that wage growth for low-wage workers has been far faster in states that have enacted meaningful increases in minimum wages.Black workers endure persistent racial disparities in employment outcomes.