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Does the Minimum Wage Cause Inefficient Rationing?

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  • Luttmer Erzo F.P.

    () (Harvard University)

Abstract

By not allowing wages to clear the labor market, the minimum wage could cause workers with low reservation wages to be rationed out while equally skilled workers with higher reservation wages are employed. This paper exploits overlapping CPS panels to more precisely identify those most affected by the minimum wage, a group I refer to as the "unskilled." I test for inefficient rationing by examining whether the reservation wages of employed unskilled workers in states where the 1990-1991 federal minimum wage increase had the largest impact rose relative to reservation wages of unskilled workers in other states. I find that proxies for reservation wages of unskilled workers in high-impact states did not rise relative to reservation wages in other states, suggesting that the increase in the minimum wage did not cause jobs to be allocated less efficiently. However, even if rationing is efficient, the minimum wage can still entail other efficiency costs (e.g., from employment reductions).

Suggested Citation

  • Luttmer Erzo F.P., 2007. "Does the Minimum Wage Cause Inefficient Rationing?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:7:y:2007:i:1:n:49
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    Cited by:

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    2. Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 2009. "Price Controls and Consumer Surplus," Economics Papers 2009-W07, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    3. Tomer Blumkin & Leif Danziger, 2018. "Deserving poor and the desirability of a minimum wage," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-17, December.
    4. John Bennett & Ioana Chioveanu, 2017. "The optimal minimum wage with regulatory uncertainty," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 19(6), pages 1099-1116, December.
    5. Gerritsen, Aart, 2017. "Equity and efficiency in rationed labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 56-68.
    6. George L. Wehby & Dhaval M. Dave & Robert Kaestner, 2020. "Effects of the Minimum Wage on Infant Health," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(2), pages 411-443, March.
    7. Aart Gerritsen & Bas Jacobs, 2020. "Is a Minimum Wage an Appropriate Instrument for Redistribution?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 87(347), pages 611-637, July.
    8. repec:pri:cepsud:178lee is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Andersson, Tommy & Yang, Zaifu & Zhang, Dongmo, 2015. "How to efficiently allocate houses under price controls?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 97-99.
    10. Aart Gerritsen, 2016. "How Many Harberger Triangles Does it Take to Fill one Okun Gap?," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2016-05, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    11. John A. Nyman, 2012. "Productivity Costs Revisited: Toward A New Us Policy," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(12), pages 1387-1401, December.
    12. Lucas W. Davis & Lutz Kilian, 2011. "The Allocative Cost of Price Ceilings in the U.S. Residential Market for Natural Gas," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(2), pages 212-241.
    13. Lee, David & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 739-749.
    14. Aart Gerritsen, 2016. "Equity and Efficiency in Rationed Labor Markets," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2016-04, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    15. Elena Andreyeva & Benjamin Ukert, 2018. "The impact of the minimum wage on health," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 337-375, December.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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