Low-Wage Labor Markets and the Power of Suggestion
AbstractLow-wage labor markets are traditionally viewed as competitive, and the possibility of strategic behavior by employers is dismissed. However, such behavior is not impossible. This paper investigates the possibility of tacit collusion by low-wage employers while setting wages. A game-theoretic explanation along the lines of the Folk theorem is offered, suggesting that a non-binding minimum wage may serve as a focal point for tacit collusion, proposing a symmetric solution to an infinitely played game of wage-setting. Several empirical techniques were employed in testing the hypothesis, including hurdle models of collusion. CPS monthly data is used for the years 1990-2005, covering the last four federal minimum wage increases. The likelihood of collusion at minimum wage is evaluated, as well as its dynamics during this period. The results generally support the collusion hypothesis and suggest that employers respond strategically to changes in minimum wage legislation while using the statutory minimum wage as a coordination tool in tacit collusion.
Download InfoIf 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.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2008-33.
Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision: Dec 2008
Note: I thank my adviser Christian Zimmermann for advice and support; professors Alpert, Couch, Dharmapala and Furtado for their discussions and comments; participants of the 2008 IRS Sundance Conference on Monopsony, particularly David Card, 2008 SOLE meetings, 10th IZA Summer School in Labor Economics, and UConn brownbag seminars for their input. All remaining mistakes are my own.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
More information through EDIRC
minimum wage; low-wage markets; collusion; tacit collusion; focal points;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
- J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
- L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-09-29 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2008-09-29 (Business Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2008-09-29 (Labour Economics)
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.:
- Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
- David Neumark & William Wascher, 1993.
"Employment effects of minimum and subminimum wages: reply to Card, Katz, and Krueger,"
Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section
144, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- David Neumark & William Wascher, 1993. "Employment Effects of Minimum and Subminimum Wages: Reply to Card, Katz and Krueger," NBER Working Papers 4570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Timothy J. Richards & Paul M. Patterson & Ram N. Acharya, 2001. "Price Behavior in a Dynamic Oligopsony: Washington Processing Potatoes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(2), pages 259-271.
- 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.
- Coen N. Teulings, 2003.
"The contribution of minimum wages to increasing wage inequality,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 801-833, October.
- Coen N. Teulings, 1998. "The Contribution of Minimum Wages to Increasing Wage Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-093/3, Tinbergen Institute.
- David Neumark & William L. Wascher, 2008. "Minimum Wages," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262141027, June.
- 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.
- Christie, William G & Harris, Jeffrey H & Schultz, Paul H, 1994. " Why Did NASDAQ Market Makers Stop Avoiding Odd-Eighth Quotes?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1841-60, December.
- Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994.
"Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach,"
Cahiers de recherche
9406, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-44, September.
- John DiNardo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1995. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 5093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
- Binmore, Ken & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "The evolution of focal points," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 21-42, April.
- Christopher R. Knittel & Victor Stango, 2003.
"Price Ceilings as Focal Points for Tacit Collusion: Evidence from Credit Cards,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1703-1729, December.
- Christopher R. Knittel & Victor Stango, 2001. "Price ceilings as focal points for tacit collusion: evidence from credit cards," Working Paper Series WP-01-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983.
"Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth,"
Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1677-98, November.
- Robert H. Meyer & David A. Wise, 1981. "Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth," NBER Working Papers 0711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2004.
"Has the national minimum wage reduced UK wage inequality?,"
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A,
Royal Statistical Society, vol. 167(4), pages 613-626.
- Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2002. "Has The National Minimum Wage Reduced UK Wage Inequality?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0533, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Baldwin, Laura H & Marshall, Robert C & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1997.
"Bidder Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 657-99, August.
- 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).
- 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.
- Janet Currie & Bruce Fallick, 1993. "The Minimum Wage and the Employment of Youth: Evidence from the NLSY," NBER Working Papers 4348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard Dickens & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1994.
"Estimating the Effect of Minimum Wages on Employment from the Distribution of Wages: A Critical View,"
CEP Discussion Papers
dp0203, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Dickens, Richard & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1998. "Estimating the effect of minimum wages on employment from the distribution of wages: A critical view," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 109-134, June.
- 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.
- William Wascher & David Neumark, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
- Andrew Colman, 1997. "Salience and focusing in pure coordination games," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 61-81.
- David Neumark & DMark Schweitzer & DaWilliam Wascher, 2004. "Minimum Wage Effects throughout the Wage Distribution," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
- Richard V. Burkhauser & Kenneth A. Couch & David C. Wittenburg, 1996. "Who gets what from minimum wage hikes: A re-estimation of Card and Krueger's distributional analysis in "Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage."," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(3), pages 547-552, April.
- Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
- Robert Porter, 2005. "Detecting Collusion," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 147-167, December.
- Maarten Janssen, 2001. "Rationalizing Focal Points," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 119-148, March.
- Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
- Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2003. "Where the Minimum Wage Bites Hard: Introduction of Minimum Wages to a Low Wage Sector," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 154-180, 03.
- Freeman, Richard B, 1996. "The Minimum Wage as a Redistributive Tool," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 639-49, May.
- David S. Lee, 1999. "WAGE INEQUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES DURING THE 1980s: RISING DISPERSION OR FALLING MINIMUM WAGE?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 977-1023, August.
- Crawford, Vincent P & Haller, Hans, 1990. "Learning How to Cooperate: Optimal Play in Repeated Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 571-95, May.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Pedro Gonzaga & António Brandão & Hélder Vasconcelos, 2013. "Theory of Collusion in the Labor Market," FEP Working Papers 477, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
- 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.
- Natalya Y. Shelkova, 2009. "Collusion at the Non-Binding Minimum Wage: An Automatic Stabilizer?," Working papers 2009-41, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
- Natalya Y. Shelkova, 2009. "The Minimum Wage Spike in the Search Economy with Wage-Posting," Working papers 2009-40, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
- Elek, Peter & Kollo, Janos & Reizer, Balázs & Szabó, Péter A., 2011. "Detecting Wage Under-reporting Using a Double Hurdle Model," IZA Discussion Papers 6224, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kasey Kniffin).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.