Front Page Titles (by Subject) 5: Gross Wage Rates and Net Wage Rates - Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 2 (LF ed.)
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5: Gross Wage Rates and Net Wage Rates - Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 2 (LF ed.) 
Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, in 4 vols., ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). Vol. 2.
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Gross Wage Rates and Net Wage Rates
What the employer buys on the labor market and what he gets in exchange for the wages paid is always a definite performance which he appraises according to its market price. The customs and usages prevailing on the various sectors of the labor market do not influence the prices paid for definite quantities of specific performances. Gross wage rates always tend toward the point at which they are equal to the price for which the increment resulting from the employment of the marginal worker can be sold on the market, due allowance being made for the price of the required materials and to originary interest on the capital needed.
In weighing the pros and cons of the hiring of workers the employer does not ask himself what the worker gets as take-home wages. The only relevant question for him is: What is the total price I have to expend for securing the services of this worker? In speaking of the determination of wage rates catallactics always refers to the total price which the employer must spend for a definite quantity of work of a definite type, i.e., to gross wage rates. If laws or business customs force the employer to make other expenditures besides the wages he pays to the employee, the take-home wages are reduced accordingly. Such accessory expenditures do not affect the gross rate of wages. Their incidence falls upon the wage earner. Their total amount reduces the height of take-home wages, i.e., of net wage rates.
It is necessary to realize the following consequences of this state of affairs:
[7. ]In the last years of the eighteenth century, amidst the distress produced by the protracted war with France and the inflationary methods of financing it, England resorted to this makeshift (the Speenhamland system). The real aim was to prevent agricultural workers from leaving their jobs and going into the factories where they could earn more. The Speenhamland system was thus a disguised subsidy for the landed gentry saving them the expense of higher wages.