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The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Distribution of Family Incomes: A Non-Parametric Analysis

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  • David Neumark
  • Mark Schweitzer
  • William Wascher

Abstract

The primary goal of a national minimum wage floor is to raise the incomes of poor or near-poor families with members in the work force. However, estimates of employment effects of minimum wages tell us relatively little about whether minimum wages are likely to achieve this goal; even if the disemployment effects of minimum wages are modest, minimum wage increases could result in net income losses for poor and low-income families. In this paper, we present evidence on the effects of minimum wages on family incomes from matched March CPS surveys. Using non-parametric estimates of the distributions of family income relative to needs in states and years with an without minimum wage increases, we examine the effects of minimum wages on this distribution, and on the distribution of the changes in income that families experience. Although minimum wages do increase the incomes of some poor families, the evidence indicates that the overall effects are to increase the proportion of families that are poor and near-poor, and to decrease the proportion of families with incomes between 1.5 and 3 times the poverty level.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6536.

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Date of creation: Apr 1998
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Publication status: published as Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 40, no. 4 (Autumn 2005): 867-894
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6536

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  1. Edward M. Gramlich, 1976. "Impact of Minimum Wages on Other Wages, Employment, and Family Incomes," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 409-462.
  2. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1995. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Teenage Employment and Enrollment: Evidence from Matched CPS Surveys," NBER Working Papers 5092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2002. "Do Minimum Wages Fight Poverty?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(3), pages 315-333, July.
  4. 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.
  5. David Card, 1992. "Using Regional Variation in Wages to Measure the Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage," NBER Working Papers 4058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1995. "Reconciling the evidence on employment effects of minimum wages: a review of our research findings," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne & Stanger, Shuchita, 1999. "The Highs and Lows of the Minimum Wage Effect: A Time-Series Cross-Section Study of the Canadian Law," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 318-50, April.
  8. Jean Baldwin Grossman, 1983. "The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Other Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(3), pages 359-378.
  9. John T. Addison & McKinley L. Blackburn, 1999. "Minimum wages and poverty," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 393-409, April.
  10. repec:fth:prinin:300 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. repec:cup:etheor:v:8:y:1992:i:4:p:476-88 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. Richard V. Burkhauser & T. Aldrich Finegan, 1989. "The minimum wage and the poor: The end of a relationship," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 53-71.
  14. Freeman, Richard B, 1996. "The Minimum Wage as a Redistributive Tool," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 639-49, May.
  15. 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.
  16. Hashimoto, Masanori, 1982. "Minimum Wage Effects on Training on the Job," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1070-87, December.
  17. Marron, J.S. & Schmitz, H.-P., 1992. "Simultaneous Density Estimation of Several Income Distributions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(04), pages 476-488, December.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Raising the Minimum Wage: A Tired, Bad Proposal
    by Veronique de Rugy in The Corner on 2013-02-13 21:01:00
  2. Wonkblog: Economists agree: Raising the minimum wage reduces poverty
    by Mike Konczal in Ezra Klein's Wonkblog on 2014-01-04 14:00:43
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