Measuring the Impact of Mergers on Labor Markets

By Aryeh Mellman

While the Department of Justice (DOJ) traditionally reviews mergers solely in terms of their impacts of prices for consumers, the antitrust laws were enacted to deal with broader socio-political problems like industrial concentration as well as prices. A new line of research on labor market concentration suggests an additional area of concern for antitrust law, noting that even as mergers decrease prices, they can increase labor market concentration, keeping wages low for employees of merging companies.

This Note analyzes a merger through the lens of its predicted impact on wages, rather than prices. Part II lays out the evolution of antitrust law and merger review from its early multifaceted socio-political focus to its current narrow economic angle. Part III then questions whether the price-focused consumer welfare standard is as complete as it appears to be. Next, Part IV reviews the literature on labor market concentration and demonstrates how the tools that measure concentration in the product market can easily do the same in the labor market. Part V conducts a retrospective empirical analysis of a past merger, assessing whether it would have passed DOJ muster had the agency considered its effect on wages. Finally, Part VI suggests possible changes to the merger review process in light of the research and case study.

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