Before the widespread acceptance of the efficiency-wage theory, scholars believed that increased worker productivity benefited workers in two ways: higher real wages and/or reduced working hours. According to the efficiency-wage theory, however, the causation can go the other way as well: productivity depends on the real wage paid by the firm. Productivity gains from higher wages result primarily from greater incentives to work coupled with diminished incentives to shirk, and secondarily from employers' ability to raise productivity by using higher wages to reduce turnover; improve morale, and attract superior applicants.

Just as an efficiently higher wage may lower per-unit labor costs, so might judiciously shortened workweeks. Most workweek reductions; such as France's 1998 decision to implement a 35-hour workweek, are meant to ameliorate unemployment. While this is a worthy objective, the efficiency-week theory predicts far greater benefits. The theory asserts that an optimal number of hours worked per week will increase the productivity of the labor force for reasons akin to those argued by the efficiency-wage theorists. Moreover, an efficient week can have substantial social and economic benefits: workers will have more time to spend with family, as well as more time to consume a greater volume of goods.

It can be inferred from the passage that proponents of the efficiency-wage theory assume which of the following about higher real wages?

The productivity increases generated by higher real wages are great enough to benefit firms that offer such wages.

Many workers, if offered a choice, would prefer higher real wages to a reduction in working hours.

Higher real wages are likely to have a greater effect on reducing turnover than on improving morale.

Higher real wages are most effective as a means of increasing productivity when they are used in conjunction with reduced working hours.

Higher real wages are unlikely to result from increases in productivity.


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