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The elasticity of labor demand and the minimum wage

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  • Leif Danziger

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Abstract

We show that, contrary to widespread belief, low-pay workers do not generally prefer that the minimum wage rate be increased until the labor demand is unitary elastic. Rather, there exists a critical value of elasticity of labor demand so that increases in the minimum wage rate make low-pay workers better off for higher elasticities, but worse off for lower elasticities. This critical value decreases with unemployment benefits and increases with workers’ risk aversion. We also show that in some countries the benefits for long-term unemployed are so low that workers would probably prefer that the minimum wage rate be decreased.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Population Economics.

Volume (Year): 22 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 757-772

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:22:y:2009:i:3:p:757-772

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Keywords: Elasticity of labor demand; Minimum wage; J38;

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References

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  1. Russell S. Sobel, 1999. "Theory and Evidence on the Political Economy of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 761-785, August.
  2. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dickens, Richard & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1999. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-22, January.
  4. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  5. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Consumer Durables and the Real Interest Rate," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 353-62, August.
  6. Clark, Andrew E & Georgellis, Yannis & Sanfey, Peter, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-41, May.
  7. Addison, John T. & Blackburn, McKinley L., 1998. "Minimum Wages and Poverty," ZEW Discussion Papers 98-42, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. William Wascher & David Neumark, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
  9. Burkhauser, Richard V & Couch, Kenneth A & Wittenburg, David C, 2000. "A Reassessment of the New Economics of the Minimum Wage Literature with Monthly Data from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 653-80, October.
  10. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1992. "Employment effects of minimum and subminimum wages: Panel data on state minimum wage laws," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 55-81, October.
  11. Alan B. Krueger & David Card, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1397-1420, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Danziger, Eliav & Danziger, Leif, 2014. "A Pareto-Improving Minimum Wage," IZA Discussion Papers 8123, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Marcus Dittrich, 2010. "Minimum Wages and Unemployment Benefits in a Unionized Economy: A Game-Theoretic Approach," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 11(2), pages 209-229, November.
  3. Boeri, Tito, 2012. "Setting the minimum wage," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 281-290.
  4. Eliav Danziger & Leif Danziger, 2014. "A Pareto-Improving Minimum Wage," CESifo Working Paper Series 4762, CESifo Group Munich.

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