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The Effects of Minimum Wages Throughout the Wage Distribution

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  • David Neumark
  • Mark Schweitzer
  • William Wascher

Abstract

This paper provides evidence on a wide set of margins along which labor markets can adjust in response to increases in the minimum wage, including wages, hours, employment, and ultimately labor income, representing the central margins of adjustment that impact the economic well-being of workers potentially affected by minimum wage increases. The evidence indicates that workers initially earning near the minimum wage are adversely affected by minimum wage increases, while, not surprisingly, higher-wage workers are little affected. Although wages of low-wage workers increase , their hours and employment decline, and the combined effect of these changes is a decline in earned income. We also delve into the political economy of minimum wages, attempting to understand the vigorous support of labor unions for minimum wage increases. Using the same empirical framework, we find that relatively low-wage union members gain at the expense of the lowest-wage nonunion workers when minimum wages increase.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7519.

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Date of creation: Feb 2000
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Publication status: published as Journal of Human Resources, 2004, Vol. 39, pp. 424-50.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7519

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  1. Lang, Kevin & Kahn, Shulamit, 1998. "The effect of minimum-wage laws on the distribution of employment: theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 67-82, July.
  2. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1993. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," Working Papers 694, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Zavodny, Madeline, 2000. "The effect of the minimum wage on employment and hours," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(6), pages 729-750, November.
  4. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 1995. "Minimum-Wage Effects on School and Work Transitions of Teenagers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 244-49, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Abowd, John M & Kramarz, Francis & Margolis, David N, 1999. "Minimum Wages and Employment in France and the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 2159, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. Cox, James C & Oaxaca, Ronald L, 1982. "The Political Economy of Minimum Wage Legislation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(4), pages 533-55, October.
  9. Janet Currie & Bruce C. Fallick, 1996. "The Minimum Wage and the Employment of Youth Evidence from the NLSY," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 404-428.
  10. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 2004. "The effects of minimum wages on the distribution of family incomes: a nonparametric analysis," Working Paper 0412, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  14. Linneman, Peter, 1982. "The Economic Impacts of Minimum Wage Laws: A New Look at an Old Question," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 443-69, June.
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