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The Impact on Inequality of Raising the Minimum Wage: Gap-narrowing and Reranking Effects

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  • Diego F. Angel-Urdinola
  • Quentin Wodon

Abstract

Raising the minimum wage may reduce inequality by increasing the wages of low-skill workers, but it may also increase inequality due to negative impacts on employment that produce wage losses. Using previous estimates of the elasticities of wages and employment to changes in the minimum wage in Colombia and Brazil, we show that the net impact on inequality of increasing the minimum wage may depend on the distributional weights used for inequality measurement. The results are obtained by decomposing the Gini index into reranking and gap-narrowing effects. Inequality-increasing reranking effects, which are associated with job losses, may dominate inequality-decreasing gap-narrowing effects, which are associated with wage gains, when high weights are placed on workers with low earnings. For standard distributional weights, however, the likely net impact is a reduction in wage inequality. Copyright 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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Article provided by CEIS in its journal LABOUR.

Volume (Year): 18 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 317-327

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Handle: RePEc:bla:labour:v:18:y:2004:i:2:p:317-327

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