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A Minimum Wage can be Welfare-Improving and Employment-Enhancing

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  • Robin Boadway

    ()
    (Queen's University)

  • Katherine Cuff

    (Queen's University)

Abstract

We examine whether minimum wages can fulfill a useful role as part of an optimal nonlinear income tax scheme. In this setting, governments cannot observe household abilities, only their incomes. Redistributing according to income, the government is constrained by a set of incentive constraints. Firms, on the other hand, are able to identify abilities of workers. To exploit that, the government imposes a minimum wage. This will preclude firms from offering a job to anyone below the minimum wage. The use of the minimum wage policy combined with the institutional features of typical welfare systems allows the incentive constraints to be severed at the ability level associated with the minimum wage. If such a scheme can be enforced, the government can increase the amount of redistribution from those working to those not working. Moreover, the optimal minimum wage may actually lower the number of unemployed.

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File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_980.pdf
File Function: First version 1999
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 980.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Feb 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:980

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Keywords: Minimum Wage; Optimal Income Tax; Unemployment;

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References

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  1. BOADWAY, Robin & CUFF, Katherine & MARCHAND, Maurice, . "Optimal income taxation with quasi-linear preferences revisited," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1466, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
  3. Robin W. Boadway & Maurice Marchand, 1990. "The Use of Public Expenditure for Distributive Purpose," Working Papers 796, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice & Sato, Motohiro, 1998. " Subsidies versus Public Provision of Private Goods as Instruments for Redistribution," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(3), pages 545-64, September.
  6. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1987. "Minimum wage legislation as a second best policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 490-498.
  7. Boadway, R. & Marchand, M., . "The use of public expenditures for redistributive purposes," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1131, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  8. Weymark, John A., 1986. "A reduced-form optimal nonlinear income tax problem," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 199-217, July.
  9. Marhuenda, Francisco & Ortuno-Ortin, Ignacio, 1997. " Tax Enforcement Problems," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 61-72, March.
  10. Myles,Gareth D., 1995. "Public Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497695, April.
  11. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1984. "Effective Policy Tools and Quantity Controls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 59-86, January.
  12. 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.
  13. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff, 1999. "Monitoring Job Search as an Instrument For Targeting Transfers," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 317-337, August.
  14. Lollivier, Stefan & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1983. "Bunching and second-order conditions: A note on optimal tax theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 392-400, December.
  15. Cahuc, Pierre & Michel, Philippe, 1996. "Minimum wage unemployment and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1463-1482, August.
  16. Ebert, Udo, 1992. "A reexamination of the optimal nonlinear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 47-73, October.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Brunner, Johann K., 1993. "A note on the optimum income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 445-451, March.
  20. Burkhauser, Richard V & Couch, Kenneth A & Wittenburg, David C, 2000. "A Reassessment of the New Economics of the Minimum Wage Literature with Monthly Data from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 653-80, October.
  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. Chander, Parkash & Wilde, Louis L, 1998. "A General Characterization of Optimal Income Tax Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 165-83, January.
  23. 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.
  24. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1996. "Tax evasion and the optimum general income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 235-249, May.
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