The Minimum Wage in Historical Perspective: Progressive Reformers and the Constitutional Jurisprudence of "Liberty of Contract"
AbstractDuring the Progressive period of American history the debate over the minimum wage was often between those who clung to traditional economic theory as a reason for not having a minimum wage and those who saw the efficiency-wage benefits of adopting one. Although the latter argument proved quite effective in swaying many state legislatures, it may have also been a strategic argument for circumventing the Supreme Court's particular understanding of "liberty of contract." Under this doctrine, states could not pass any type of legislation that would interfere with the liberty of contract unless a compelling case could be made that such a wage would definitely serve the larger public interest. This paper argues that as much as efficiency-wage arguments might have been appealing, which no doubt appealed some reformers' sense of justice, they were ultimately employed as a disingenuous means by which "liberty of contract" arguments could be circumvented.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9812005.
Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 08 Dec 1998
Date of revision:
Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on PostScript; pages: 32; figures: included
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-1999-02-15 (All new papers)
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.:
- Sidney Webb, 1912. "The Economic Theory of a Legal Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20, pages 973.
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