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Do minimum wages in Latin America and the Caribbean matter ? Evidence from 19 countries

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  • Kristensen, Nicolai
  • Cunningham, Wendy

Abstract

Despite the existence of minimum wage legislation in most Latin American countries, there is little empirical evidence demonstrating its impact on the distribution of wages. In this study the authors analyze cross-country data for 19 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries to gain an understanding of if and how minimum wages affect wage distributions in LAC countries. Although there is no single minimum wage institution in the LAC region, the authors find regional trends. Minimum wages affect the wage distribution in both the formal and, especially, the informal sector, both at the minimum wage and at multiples of the minimum. The minimum does not uniformly benefit low-wage workers: in countries where the minimum wage is relatively low compared to mean wages, the minimum wage affects the more disadvantaged segments of the labor force, namely informal sector workers, women, young and older workers, and the low skilled, but in countries where the minimum wage is relatively high compared to the wage distribution, it primarily affects wages of the high skilled. This indicates that the minimum does not generally lift the wages of all, but instead, it offers a wage into which employers can"lock in"wages that are already near that level. Thus, minimum wage legislation is more far-reaching than originally thought, affecting both the uncovered informal sector and those earning above the minimum. In addition, the relative level of the minimum wage is important for determining whose wages are affected.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3870.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3870

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Keywords: Labor Markets; Income; Wages; Compensation&Benefits; Corporate Social Responsibility; Child Labor;

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References

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  1. 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..
  2. Maloney, William, 2003. "Informality revisited," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2965, The World Bank.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Sidney Webb, 1912. "The Economic Theory of a Legal Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20, pages 973.
  6. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2002. "Do Minimum Wages Fight Poverty?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(3), pages 315-333, July.
  7. 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.
  8. Bell, Linda A, 1997. "The Impact of Minimum Wages in Mexico and Colombia," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S102-35, July.
  9. Gabriel Ulyssea & Miguel N. Foguel, 2006. "Efeitos do Salário Mínimo Sobre o Mercado de Trabalho Brasileiro," Discussion Papers 1168, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Camilo Mondragón-Vélez & Ximena Peña & Daniel Wills, 2010. "Labor Market Rigidities and Informality in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006717, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  2. Margherita Comola & Luiz de Mello, 2009. "How Does Decentralised Minimum-Wage Setting Affect Unemployment and Informality?: The Case of Indonesia," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 710, OECD Publishing.
  3. Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2006. "Minimum Wages, Globalization and Poverty in Honduras," IZA Discussion Papers 2497, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Cunningham, Wendy & Jacobsen, Joyce P., 2008. "Earnings inequality within and across gender, racial, and ethnic groups in four Latin American Countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4591, The World Bank.
  5. Leif Danziger, 2009. "Endogenous Monopsony and the Perverse Effect of the Minimum Wage in Small Firms," CESifo Working Paper Series 2740, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Diego Angel-Urdinola, 2008. "Can a minimum wage increase have an adverse impact on inequality? Evidence from two Latin American economies," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 57-71, March.
  7. Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2007. "Minimum Wages and the Welfare of Workers in Honduras," IZA Discussion Papers 2892, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Kamila Fialová & Martina Mysíková, 2009. "The Minimum Wage: Labor Market Consequences in the Czech Republic," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 59(3), pages 255-274, August.
  9. Cornia, Giovanni Andrea, 2012. "Inequality Trends and their Determinants: Latin America over 1990-2011," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  10. Giovanni Andrea Cornia & Bruno Martorano, 2010. "Policies for Reducing Income Inequality: Latin America During the Last Decade," Working papers 1006, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
  11. Kuddo, Arvo, 2009. "Labor laws in Eastern European and Central Asian countries : minimum norms and practices," Social Protection Discussion Papers 51698, The World Bank.
  12. Keifman, Saul N. & Maurizio, Roxana, 2012. "Changes in Labour Market Conditions and Policies: Their Impact on Wage Inequality during the Last Decade," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  13. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2009. "Minimum wages, wages and employment in various sectors in Honduras," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 291-303, June.
  14. Giovanni Andrea Cornia, 2012. "Inequality Trends and their Determinants: Latin America over 1990-2010," Working Papers - Economics wp2012_02.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  15. Del Carpio, Ximena & Nguyen, Ha & Wang, Liang Choon, 2012. "Does the minimum wage affect employment ? evidence from the manufacturing sector in Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6147, The World Bank.

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