Wages: Myth & Fact

Can the U.S. economy achieve reasonably full employment and wage and price stability at the same time? To this hopeful question, Princeton Economist William G. Bowen gives a dourly qualified "no" in his Wage Behavior in the Postwar Period (Princeton University; $3). His conclusion: "There are no simple panaceas or obvious institutional reforms that will make price stability and full employment perfectly compatible," because throughout U.S. history, wage gains have consistently outpaced output-per-man-hour gains, and the gap has widened in the postwar period.

Professor Bowen, in his 137-page survey of wages back to 1900, deflates some widely prevalent notions. For...

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