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The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from the US

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  • Richard Dickens
  • Stephen Machin
  • Alan Manning

Abstract

Recent work on the economic effects of minimum wages has stressed that the standard economic model, where increases in minimum wages depress employment, is not supported by the empirical findings in some labour markets. In this paper we present a theoretical framework which is general enough to allow minimum wages to have the conventional negative impact on employment, but which also allows for the possibility of a neutral or a positive effect. The model structure is based on labour market frictions which give employers some degree of monopsony power. The formulated model has a number of empirical implications which we go on to test using data on industry-based minimum wages set by the UK Wages Councils between 1975 and 1990. Some strong results emerge: minimum wages significantly compress the distribution of earnings and, contrary to conventional economic wisdom but in line with several recent studies, do not have a negative impact on employment. If anything, the relationship between minimum wages and employment is estimated to be positive.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4742.

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Date of creation: May 1994
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Publication status: Published as "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from Britain", JLE, Vol. 17, no. 1 (January 1999): 1-22.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4742

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  1. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "The effect of the minimum wage on the fast-food industry," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 6-21, October.
  2. repec:fth:prinin:315 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment and Earnings of Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 66-100, January.
  4. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-93, September.
  5. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1992. "Minimum Wages," CEP Discussion Papers dp0080, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  7. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1677-98, November.
  8. Nickell, S. & Wadhwani, S., 1989. "Insider Forces And Wage Determination," Papers 334, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  9. Calvo, Guillermo A & Wellisz, Stanislaw, 1979. "Hierarchy, Ability, and Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 991-1010, October.
  10. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. Kaufman, Roger T, 1989. "The Effects of Statutory Minimum Rates of Pay on Employment in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1040-53, December.
  12. Holzer, Harry J & Katz, Lawrence F & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Job Queues and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 739-68, August.
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  14. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
  15. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Interindustry Wage Differences and Industry Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 2014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. David Card & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1993. "Comment on David Neumark and William Wascher, 'Employment Effects of Minimum and Subminimum Wages: Panel Data on State Minimum Wage Laws'," Working Papers 695, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  17. David Card, 1991. "Do Minimum Wages Reduce Employment? A Case Study of California, 1987-89," NBER Working Papers 3710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
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  20. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & S Woodland, 1993. "Are Workers Paid their Marginal Product? Evidence from a Low Wage Labour Market," CEP Discussion Papers dp0158, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2002. "Where the minimum wage bites hard: the introduction of the UK national minimum wage to a low wage sector," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20070, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Peter Elek & Janos Kollo & Balazs Reizer & Peter A. Szabo, 2012. "Detecting Wage Under-Reporting Using a Double Hurdle Model," Budapest Working Papers on the Labour Market 1201, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  3. Deltas, George, 2007. "Can a minimum wage increase employment and reduce prices in a neoclassical perfect information economy?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 657-674, August.
  4. Daniel B. Klein & Stewart Dompe, 2007. "Reasons for Supporting the Minimum Wage: Asking Signatories of the "Raise the Minimum Wage" Statement," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(1), pages 125-167, January.
  5. Rama, Martin, 1996. "The consequences of doubling the minimum wage : the case of Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1643, The World Bank.
  6. 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.
  7. David Holland & Sanjoy Bhattacharjee & Leroy Stodick, 2006. "Assessing the Economic Impact of Minimum Wage Increases on the Washington Economy: A General Equilibrium Approach," Working Papers 2006-12, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  8. Stuart Landon, 1997. "High School Enrollment, Minimum Wages and Education Spending," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 23(2), pages 141-163, June.
  9. Schöb, Ronnie, 2007. "Soziale Grundsicherung und Beschäftigung," Discussion Papers 2007/12, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  10. Jellal, Mohamed, 2012. "Maroc salaire minimum emploi et pauvreté
    [Morocco minimum wage employment and poverty]
    ," MPRA Paper 38491, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Sara Lemos, 2004. "The Effects Of The Minimum Wage On Wages And Employment In Brazil - A Menu Of Minimum Wage Variables," Labor and Demography 0403008, EconWPA.
  12. Alana Gilbert & Euan Phimister & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2001. "The Potential Impact of the Minimum Wage in Rural Areas," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(8), pages 765-770.

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