Beats Working: Wage-Replacements in Past and the Present

When and Where

Monday, May 11, 2020 3:00 pm to 3:05 pm


Padraic X. Scanlan
Dionne Pohler
Christopher M. Florio


CIRHR Assistant Professor Padraic X. Scanlan will present as part of the Centre for Ethics' The Ethics of COVID, an interdisciplinary series of online events featuring short video takes on the ethical dimensions of the COVID crisis.

In conversation with: Dionne Pohler, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto and Christopher M. Florio, Department of History, Hollins University

Abstract: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the world have experimented with schemes to prevent layoffs and encourage workers to stay home by paying some, or all, of their wages. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the ruptures of industrialisation – automation, downward pressure on wages, rapid urbanisation – provoked some governments to top up labourers’ wages to a minimum. However, by the 1830s, most of these programs had been swept away by the rise of liberalism and laissez-faire capitalism. To some critics, wage subsidies seemed to violate the putatively natural laws of the market. To others, they seemed to present a moral hazard: why would labourers continue to work if they did not need wages to survive? The pandemic, and government responses to it, have reignited these foundational debates about the purpose of wages, the nature of the labour market, and the role of governments in political economy.

This is an online event. It will be live streamed on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel at 3pm, Monday, May 11. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start of the live stream.


Centre for Ethics, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources