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Minimum Wages and the Demand for Labor

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S

I formulate measures of the effective minimum wage, based on broad definitions of the labor costs that face employers, and use these measures in reestimating some simple equations relating the relative employment of youths and adults to the U.S. minimum wage using aggregate data for 1954-78.I then ground the model more closely in the theory of factor demand, first by adding the relative wages of youths and adults to the equation describing their relative employment, and then by specifying a complete system of demand equations for these two types of labor. Teen employment responds quite robustly to changes in the effective minimum in these specifications, with an elasticity of -0.1. A translog cost function defined over young workers, adults, and capital shows that the effective minimum wage reduces employers' ability to substitute other factors for young workers. Using both sets of results, I find that a subminimum wage for youths would have increased their employment with at most a small loss of jobs among adults.

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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 20 (1982)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 365-80

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:20:y:1982:i:3:p:365-80
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  1. Chiswick, Barry R & Mincer, Jacob, 1972. "Time-Series Changes in Personal Income Inequality in the United States from 1939, with Projections to 1985," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S34-S66, Part II, .
  2. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1976. "Econometric Studies of Labor Demand and Their Application to Policy Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 11(4), pages 507-525.
  3. Orley Ashenfelter & Robert Smith, 1977. "Compliance with the Minimum Wage Law," Working Papers 478, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1995. "Labour Demand and the," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 620-34, May.
  5. Daniel S. Hamermesh & James Grant, 1979. "Econometric Studies of Labor-Labor Substitution and Their Implications for Policy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(4), pages 543-562.
  6. Richard B. Freeman, 1979. "The Effect of Demographic Factors on Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 289-318.
  7. Grant, James H & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1981. "Labor Market Competition among Youths, White Women and Others," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(3), pages 354-60, August.
  8. Siskind, Frederic B, 1977. "Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States: Comment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(1), pages 135-38, January.
  9. Welch, Finis, 1974. "Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(3), pages 285-318, September.
  10. Berndt, Ernst R & Christensen, Laurits R, 1974. "Testing for the Existence of a Consistent Aggregate Index of Labor Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 391-404, June.
  11. Ragan, James F, Jr, 1977. "Minimum Wages and the Youth Labor Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(2), pages 129-36, May.
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