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Estimating the effect of minimum wages on employment from the distribution of wages: A critical view

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  • Dickens, Richard
  • Machin, Stephen
  • Manning, Alan

Abstract

In two papers, Meyer and Wise (1983a,b) present an ingenious method for estimating the effect of minimum wage rates on wages and employment using data based only on the observed cross-sectional distribution of wages. They, and others who have used this method, have generally found that the minimum wage causes substantial losses in employment. In this paper we evaluate the robustness of this technique. We argue that the estimates, at least for the UK, are very sensitive to the functional form assumed for the distribution of wages and to the assumption made about how far up the wage distribution the minimum wage has spillover effects.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:5:y:1998:i:2:p:109-134
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    1. Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1992. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry," Working Papers 678, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast-Food Industry," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 6-21, October.
    3. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-793, September.
    4. Charles Brown & Curtis Gilroy & Andrew Kohen, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 0846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Singh, S K & Maddala, G S, 1976. "A Function for Size Distribution of Incomes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 963-970, September.
    7. Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Jonathan Wadsworth, 1993. "Wages Councils: Was There a Case for Abolition?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 515-529, December.
    8. McDonald, James B, 1984. "Some Generalized Functions for the Size Distribution of Income," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 647-663, May.
    9. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment and Earnings of Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 66-100, January.
    10. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1992. "Minimum Wages," CEP Discussion Papers dp0080, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1677-1698, November.
    12. David Card, 1992. "Using Regional Variation in Wages to Measure the Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 22-37, October.
    13. Brown, Charles & Gilroy, Curtis & Kohen, Andrew, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 487-528, June.
    14. van Soest, A.H.O. & Kapteyn, A.J., 1989. "The impact of minimum wage regulations on employment and the wage rate distribution," Discussion Paper 1989-47, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    15. Kaufman, Roger T, 1989. "The Effects of Statutory Minimum Rates of Pay on Employment in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1040-1053, December.
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    17. Jean Baldwin Grossman, 1983. "The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Other Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(3), pages 359-378.
    18. Dickens, Richard & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1999. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-22, January.
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    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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