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Do labour supply and demand curves exist?

Fleetwood, Steve

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The objective of this paper is to show that circumstantial and empirical evidence for the existence of labour supply and demand curves is at best inconclusive and at worst casts doubt on their existence. Because virtually all orthodox models of labour markets, simple and complex, are built upon the foundation stones of labour supply and demand curves, these models lack empirically supported foundations. Orthodox labour economists must, therefore, either provide stronger evidence or stop using labour supply and demand curves as the foundation stones of their models. The conclusion discusses implications for future orthodox and heterodox labour economics. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved.


Fleetwood, S. (2014). Do labour supply and demand curves exist?. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 38(5), 1087-1113.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 15, 2016
Journal Cambridge Journal of Economics
Print ISSN 0309-166X
Electronic ISSN 1464-3545
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 5
Pages 1087-1113
Keywords labour market, laws, labour supply, labour demand, open systems
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Cambridge Journal of Economics following peer review. The version of record Fleetwood, S. (2014) Do labour supply and demand curves exist? Cambridge Journal of Economics, 38 (5). pp. 1-27. ISSN 0309-166X is available online at:


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