The Economics of Prevailing Wage Laws: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Economics of Prevailing Wage Laws

1st Edition

By Peter Philips

Edited by Hamid Azari-Rad


270 pages

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Prevailing wage laws affecting the construction industry in the United States exist at the Federal and State levels. These laws require that construction workers employed by contractors on government works be paid at least the wage rates and fringe benefits 'prevailing' for similar work where government contract work is performed. The federal law (Davis-Bacon Act) was passed in 1931. By 1969 four fifth of States had enacted prevailing wage legislation. In the 1970s, facing fiscal crises, States considered repealing their laws in an effort to reduce construction costs, and since 1979 nine States have repealed their laws. These repeals at State level along with unsuccessful attempts to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act have pushed prevailing wages to the forefront of public policy and controversy. This book, for the first time, brings together scholarly research in the economics of prevailing wages placed in historical and institutional context.


'For over 130 years, the setting of decent wage floors has been a crucial policy tool for promoting well-being among working people in the United States. The Economics of Prevailing Wage Laws analyses with both rigor and breadth of understanding one of the most important wage-floor policy interventions. The contributors to this volume provide cogent and persuasive answers to many major questions.' Professor Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA 'This book offers an informed, careful, and rigorous look at a wide variety of the economic effects of prevailing wage policies on labor markets and public policy outcomes and offers a measured account of their impacts. The Economics of Prevailing Wage Laws should be read by all of those academics and practitioners interested in the past, present and most importantly future of this important area of labor market regulation.' David Weil, Boston University School of Management, and Harvard University, USA

Table of Contents

Contents: Historical Context For Public Policy: Introduction: prevailing wage regulations and public policy in the construction industry, Hamid Azari-Rad, Peter Philips and Mark J. Prus; The American construction industry: an overview, Gerald Finkel; Thoughtless think tanks: sound bite thinking about the history and intent of prevailing wage laws, Hamid Azari-Rad and Peter Philips; Prevailing wage laws, unions, and minority employment in construction, Dale Belman. Public Policy: Costs, Skills, And Safety: Prevailing wage laws and construction costs: evidence from British Columbia's skills development and fair wage policy, Kevin Duncan and Mark J. Prus; Wage regulation and training: the impact of State prevailing wage laws on apprenticeship, Cihan Bilginsoy; Prevailing wage laws and injury rates in construction, Hamid Azari-Rad. Public Policy: Compensations: Benefits vs. wages: how prevailing wage laws affect the mix and magnitude of compensation to construction workers, Jeffrey S. Petersen and Erin M. Godtland; Health care subsidies in construction: does the public sector subsidize low wage contractors? C. Jeffrey Waddoups; Pension and health insurance coverage in construction labor markets, Mark A. Price; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Hamid Azari-Rad is Assistant Professor at The State University of New York in New Paltz, USA. Professor Peter Philips is from the Department of Economics at the University of Utah, USA. Mark J. Prus is from the Department of Economics at The State University of New York in Cortland, USA.

About the Series

Alternative Voices in Contemporary Economics

Alternative Voices in Contemporary Economics
The Alternative Voices in Contemporary Economics series provides an important platform for new and innovative approaches to economic analysis within the following traditions: Post-Keynesian, Feminist, Institutional, Marxian, Sraffian, Radical, Austrian, and Behavioural. This series offers researchers working in these heterodox traditions the opportunity to address methodological, theoretical or empirical issues. The series editor works closely with authors and editors to ensure the quality of all published works.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Labor & Employment