Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Optimal Minimum Wage Policy in Competitive Labor Markets

Contents:

Author Info

  • David Lee
  • Emmanuel Saez

Abstract

This paper provides a theoretical analysis of optimal minimum wage policy in a perfectly competitive labor market. We show that a binding minimum wage -- while leading to unemployment -- is nevertheless desirable if the government values redistribution toward low wage workers and if unemployment induced by the minimum wage hits the lowest surplus workers first. This result remains true in the presence of optimal nonlinear taxes and transfers. In that context, a minimum wage effectively rations the low skilled labor that is subsidized by the optimal tax/transfer system, and improves upon the second-best tax/transfer optimum. When labor supply responses are along the extensive margin, a minimum wage and low skill work subsidies are complementary policies; therefore, the co-existence of a minimum wage with a positive tax rate for low skill work is always (second-best) Pareto inefficient. We derive formulas for the optimal minimum wage (with and without optimal taxes) as a function of labor supply and demand elasticities and the redistributive tastes of the government. We also present some illustrative numerical simulations.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14320.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14320.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “Optimal Minimum Wage Policy in Competitive Labor Markets,” with Emmanuel Saez, Journal of Pub lic Economics, 96(2012), 739 - 749.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14320

Note: LS PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Foellmi, Reto & Zweimüller, Josef, 2006. "Mass Consumption, Exclusion and Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 5824, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Direct or indirect tax instruments for redistribution: short-run versus long-run," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 503-518, March.
  3. Lang, Kevin, 1987. "Pareto Improving Minimum Wage Laws," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(1), pages 145-58, January.
  4. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1984. "Effective Policy Tools and Quantity Controls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 59-86, January.
  5. Dreze, J. & Gollier, C., 1990. "Risk-sharing on the labour market and second-best wage rigidities," CORE Discussion Papers 1990067, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Bacache-Beauvallet, Maya & Lehmann, Etienne, 2005. "Minimum Wage or Negative Income Tax: Why Skilled Workers May Favor Wage Rigidities," IZA Discussion Papers 1570, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Guy Laroque, 2005. "Income Maintenance and Labor Force Participation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 341-376, 03.
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 1997. "The Misallocation of Housing Under Rent Control," NBER Working Papers 6220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Cahuc, P. & Michel, P., 1992. "Minimum Wage, Unemployment and Growth," Papiers d'Economie Mathématique et Applications 92.35, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
  10. Swinnerton, Kenneth A, 1996. "Minimum Wages in an Equilibrium Search Model with Diminishing Returns to Labor in Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 340-55, April.
  11. Juan J. Dolado & Florentino Felgueroso & Juan F. Jimeno, . "The Role of the Minimum Wage in the Welfare State: An Appraisal," Working Papers 2000-12, FEDEA.
  12. Johnson, William R & Browning, Edgar K, 1983. "The Distributional and Efficiency Effects of Increasing the Minimum Wage: A Simulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 204-11, March.
  13. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2006. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research," NBER Working Papers 12663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Luttmer Erzo F.P., 2007. "Does the Minimum Wage Cause Inefficient Rationing?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, October.
  15. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073, August.
  16. Brown, Charles & Gilroy, Curtis & Kohen, Andrew, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 487-528, June.
  17. Freeman, Richard B, 1996. "The Minimum Wage as a Redistributive Tool," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 639-49, May.
  18. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff, 1999. "A Minimum Wage Can Be Welfare-Improving and Employment-Enhancing," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 72, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  19. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Micro-Simulation Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4324, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Hungerbühler, Mathias & Lehmann, Etienne, 2007. "On the Optimality of a Minimum Wage: New Insights from Optimal Tax Theory," IZA Discussion Papers 2957, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Rebitzer, James B. & Taylor, Lowell J., 1995. "The consequences of minimum wage laws Some new theoretical ideas," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 245-255, February.
  22. Chone, Philippe & Laroque, Guy, 2005. "Optimal incentives for labor force participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 395-425, February.
  23. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1987. "Minimum wage legislation as a second best policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 490-498.
  24. Diamond, P., 1980. "Income taxation with fixed hours of work," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 101-110, February.
  25. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  26. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
  27. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  28. Flinn, Christopher, 2003. "Minimum Wage Effects on Labor Market Outcomes under Search with Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  29. Cahuc, P. & Saint-Martin, A. & Zylberberg, A., 2001. "The consequences of the minimum wage when other wages are bargained over," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 337-352, February.
  30. Cahuc, Pierre & Laroque, Guy, 2007. "Optimal Taxation and Monopsonistic Labor Market: Does Monopsony Justify the Minimum Wage?," IZA Discussion Papers 2955, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  31. Allen, Stephen P, 1987. "Taxes, Redistribution, and the Minimum Wage: A Theoretical Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 477-89, August.
  32. Herwig Immervoll, 2007. "Minimum Wages, Minimum Labour Costs and the Tax Treatment of Low-Wage Employment," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 46, OECD Publishing.
  33. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  34. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1992. "Minimum Wages," CEP Discussion Papers dp0080, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  35. Brown, Charles, 1999. "Minimum wages, employment, and the distribution of income," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 2101-2163 Elsevier.
  36. Philippe Choné & Guy Laroque, 2006. "Should Low Skilled Work be Subsidized ?," Working Papers 2006-08, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  37. R. V. Burkhauser & K. A. Couch & A. J. Glenn, . "Public policies for the working poor: The earned income tax credit versus minimum wage legislation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1074-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Minimum wages and optimal taxes
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-02-23 14:11:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," NBER Working Papers 14399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lee, David & Saez, Emannuel, 2010. "Optimal Minimum Wage Policy in Competitive Labor Markets," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt07w2z7t6, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  3. Hungerbühler, Mathias & Lehmann, Etienne, 2009. "On the optimality of a minimum wage: New insights from optimal tax theory," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 464-481, April.
  4. Laurence Jacquet & Etienne Lehmann & Bruno Linden, 2014. "Optimal income taxation with Kalai wage bargaining and endogenous participation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 381-402, February.
  5. Lee, David & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 739-749.
  6. Laurence Jacquet & Etienne Lehmann & Bruno Van der Linden, 2012. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation with both Labor Supply and Labor Demand Responses," CESifo Working Paper Series 3779, CESifo Group Munich.

Lists

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
  1. Economic Logic blog

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14320. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.