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Minimum Wages and the Demand for Labor

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1982. "Minimum Wages and the Demand for Labor," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(3), pages 365-380, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:20:y:1982:i:3:p:365-80
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Siskind, Frederic B, 1977. "Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States: Comment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(1), pages 135-138, January.
    2. 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 354-360, August.
    3. 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 34-66, Part II, .
    4. 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.
    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. Ragan, James F, Jr, 1977. "Minimum Wages and the Youth Labor Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(2), pages 129-136, May.
    7. Ashenfelter, Orley & Smith, Robert S, 1979. "Compliance with the Minimum Wage Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 333-350, April.
    8. 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.
    9. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1995. "Labour Demand and the," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 620-634, May.
    10. Richard B. Freeman, 1979. "The Effect of Demographic Factors on Age-Earnings Profiles," NBER Working Papers 0316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Welch, Finis, 1974. "Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(3), pages 285-318, September.
    12. 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.
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    1. David Neumark & William L. Wascher, 1993. "Employment effects of minimum and subminimum wages: reply to Card, Katz, and Krueger," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 144, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Lawrence Kahn, 2002. "The Impact of Wage-Setting Institutions on the Incidence of Public Employment in the OECD: 1960-98," CESifo Working Paper Series 757, CESifo.
    3. Teresa Ghilarducci & Michael Papadopoulos & Siavash Radpour, 2017. "Relative Wages in Aging America: The Baby Boomer Effect," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2017-03, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    4. Charles Brown & Curtis Gilroy & Andrew Kohen, 1983. "Time-Series Evidence of the Effect of the Minimum Wage on Youth Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 3-31.
    5. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2101-2163 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 1998. "Is the Time-Series Evidence on Minimum Wage Effects Contaminated by Publication Bias?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 458-470, July.
    7. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:429-471 is not listed on IDEAS

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