According to the late Paul Samuelson, even second graders know that an increase in the supply of a good can lead to a decrease in its price. What is less obvious is that an increased supply can also lead to decreased total revenues, depending on the elasticity -- or inelasticity -- of demand.
Even less obvious are the conditions under which the inverse is also sometimes true: a decrease in the price of a good can result in an increased supply. The most famous instance of this is the so-called "backward bending labor supply curve" where people are supposed to prefer more leisure to income as their wage increases. Robert Prasch added a further wrinkle to the canonical supply curve by pointing out that at very low incomes people often worked more hours in an effort to maintain a subsistence level of total income. It seems to me that a similar constraint would apply to people with high levels of debt, even if their incomes are not at the bottom.
Prasch's modification to the backward-bending convention results in an "inverted 'S'-shaped labor supply curve." Coincidentally -- or perhaps not so coincidentally -- an inverted 'S"-shaped curve has also been described in the historical relationship between economic growth and income inequality. The conventional story of the growth/inequality relationship was Simon Kuznets's description of an inverted 'U' shape, in which initially economic growth was accompanied by rising inequality but eventually continued growth resulted in less inequality. More recent empirical studies show a return to rising inequality. (see Prasch, 2000, "Reassessing the Labor Supply Curve," Journal of Economic Issues; Sharif, 2000, "Inverted “S” — The complete neoclassical labour-supply function," International Labour Review; Nakamura and Murayama, 2010, "A complete characterization of the inverted s-shaped labor supply curve," Metroeconomica; Tribble, 1999, "A Restatement of the S-Curve Hypothesis," Review of Development Economics; List and Gallet, 1999, "The Kuznets Curve: What Happens After the Inverted-U?" Review of Development Economics).
Any link between the two inverted 'S' curves can only be tentative and speculative. After all, one of the curves is hypothetical and microeconomic while the other is empirical and macroeconomic -- and there are scads of intervening variables between the two. But the possibility emerges from these analytical observations that economic growth may generate absolute impoverishment.
This is not to say that any and all economic growth impoverishes people either relatively or absolutely. Only that a particular kind of economic growth, predicated on a logic of inequality may produce not only relative poverty in the sense of increased inequality but, to use a provocative term: immiseration. Under such conditions, to advocate reduced working time would seem to run counter to the perception that people are already having a hard time "making ends meet". On the contrary, it is entirely possible that the "distress sale" of countless hours of superfluous labor supply is depressing both the price of labor and the total revenue going to labor.
"But," an orthodox pundit might object, "the withdrawal of those hours of labor would diminish output, leaving less total product to go around." I don't think so. The effect of excessive hours of work is to reduce total output, not increase it. But at the same time, such a restriction of output, accompanied as it is by unemployment and increased competition for jobs, results in a reallocation upward of the income from that reduced production. Overwork reduces the total size of the pie but capital receives a larger slice of that smaller pie, thus increasing its power. In this way, obstructing the reduction of working time can perhaps best be understood as a form of "industrial sabotage" in Veblen's sense, that simultaneously maintains higher prices for product outputs and lower prices for labor inputs.
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