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Low-Cost Student Labor: The Use and Effects of the Subminimum Wage Provisions for Full-time Students

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Author Info

  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Wayne B. Gray
  • Casey Ichniowski

Abstract

Section 14(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act permits certain classes of employers to pay full-time students a wage fifteen percent below the minimum wage. This study develops a new data base from administrative records, our own survey of participating company and establishment managers, and published information on local labor markets to investigate employer responses to a subminimum wage program. Our analysis of the full-time student certification program has yielded four general conclusions. First, while the most important users of the program are institutions of higher education, certain non-educational employers in the retail and service sectors employ a sufficiently large and increasing number of students below the minimum wage to suggest that the program has considerable attractiveness in the private sector. Second, area labor market conditions are a major determinant of which establishments with permits to pay students subminimum wages in fact make use of the program and the extent of that use. Establishments in areas characterized by high wages and low levels of unemployment, implying high costs in employing or locating substitute labor, make more use of student subminimum workers than establishments in areas with lower costs for substitute labor. The magnitude of the effect of area wage is, however, sensitive to the precise specification of the full-time student employment equation and the variable used to measure area wage. Although this sensitivity leads to variations in the estimation of the elasticity of substitution between student and other labor, reasonable estimates of this elasticity range from .5 to 1.0. Among company characteristics, unionism reduces program usage, while certain company incentives promote use of the program. Finally, restrictions in the law placed on hours worked at the subminimum appear to be a major reason for failure to employ students under this program.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0765.

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Date of creation: Sep 1981
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0765

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Cited by:
  1. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioural Effects of Minimum Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 5115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. David Card, 1992. "Using Regional Variation in Wages to Measure the Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage," Working Papers 680, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "The Effect of the New Minimum Wage Law in a Low-Wage Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 3655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. repec:fth:prinin:316 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Katz, L.F. & Krueger, A.B., 1992. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1584, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. repec:fth:prinin:278 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1991. "Evidence on Employment Effects of Minimum Wages and Subminimum Wage Provisions From Panel Data on State Minimum Wage Laws," NBER Working Papers 3859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan B. Krueger, 1994. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage When It Really Bites: A Reexamination of the Evidence from Puerto Rico," NBER Working Papers 4757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1982. "The Labor Market Impact of Federal Regulation: OSHA, ERISA, EEO, and Minimum Wage," NBER Working Papers 0844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. repec:fth:prinin:330 is not listed on IDEAS

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