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Minimum Wages, Globalization, and Poverty in Honduras

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  • Gindling, T.H.
  • Terrell, Katherine

Abstract

To be competitive in the global economy, some argue that Latin American countries need to reduce or eliminate labour market regulations such as minimum wage legislation because they constrain job creation and hence increase poverty. On the other hand, minimum wage increases can have a direct positive impact on family income and may therefore help to reduce poverty. We take advantage of a complex minimum wage system in a poor country that has been exposed to the forces of globalization to test whether minimum wages are an effective poverty reduction tool in this environment. We find the net effect of minimum wage increases in Honduras is the reduction of extreme poverty, with an elasticity of -0.18, and all poverty, with an elasticity of -0.10 (using the national poverty lines). These results are driven entirely by the effect on workers in large private sector firms, where minimum wage legislation is enforced. Increases in the minimum do not affect the incidence of poverty among workers in sectors where minimum wages are not enforced (small firms) or do not apply (self-employed and public sector). Hence, we show that minimum wages can be used as a poverty reduction tool in the formal sector. However, we do not endorse minimum wages as the best tool as we have not carried out a complete cost-benefit analysis of this policy vis-.-vis others.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number RP2008/23.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2008-23

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Keywords: minimum wage; poverty; Central America; Honduras;

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  1. Freeman, Richard B, 1996. "The Minimum Wage as a Redistributive Tool," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 639-49, May.
  2. William F. Maloney & Jairo Nunez Mendez, 2003. "Measuring the Impact of Minimum Wages: Evidence from Latin America," NBER Working Papers 9800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. World Bank, 2012. "Better Jobs in Central America : The Role of Human Capital," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11924, The World Bank.
  2. Jose Antonio Cordero, 2009. "Honduras: Recent Economic Performance," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2009-42, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
  3. ArnabK. Basu & NancyH. Chau & Ravi Kanbur, 2010. "Turning a Blind Eye: Costly Enforcement, Credible Commitment and Minimum Wage Laws," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 244-269, 03.
  4. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy & Siddique, Zahra, 2011. "Tax Evasion, Minimum Wage Non-Compliance and Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 6228, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Alaniz, Enrique & Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2011. "The impact of minimum wages on wages, work and poverty in Nicaragua," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(S1), pages S45-S59.
  6. Danziger, Leif, 2009. "Noncompliance and the Effects of the Minimum Wage on Hours and Welfare in Competitive Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 4408, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Pauw, Karl & Leibbrandt, Murray, 2012. "Minimum Wages and Household Poverty: General Equilibrium Macro–Micro Simulations for South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 771-783.
  8. Basu, Arnab K & Chau, Nancy H & Kanbur, Ravi, 2011. "Contractual Dualism, Market Power and Informality," CEPR Discussion Papers 8485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Kapelyuk Sergey, 2014. "Impact of minimum wage on income distribution and poverty in Russia," EERC Working Paper Series 14/03e, EERC Research Network, Russia and CIS.

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