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Life on the Minimum Wage in Australia: An Empirical Investigation


  • Alfred Michael Dockery

    () (Curtin University)

  • Richard Seymour

    (Curtin University)

  • Rachel Ong

    (Curtin University)


From 2006 to 2009, Federal minimum wages in Australia were set by the Australian Fair Pay Commission. This paper uses data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia panel survey to investigate the circumstances of persons who are paid at or near the minimum wage, and thus potentially affected by the wage determinations. Net disposable incomes for actual and potential minimum wage workers are modelled in and out of work to investigate the implications of the wage determinations on work incentives. In addition, a range of measures of socioeconomic status and wellbeing are inspected. Comparisons are made with selected groups of non-employed persons and those with higher earnings to highlight the potential costs and benefits for affected individuals, and hence the potential trade-offs faced in setting minimum wages if we accept that increases in minimum wages reduce employment opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfred Michael Dockery & Richard Seymour & Rachel Ong, 2010. "Life on the Minimum Wage in Australia: An Empirical Investigation," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 13(1), pages 1-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:13:y:2010:i:1:p:1-26

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    Cited by:

    1. Rachel Ong & Gavin Wood & Melek Cigdem, 2013. "Work incentives and decisions to remain in paid work in Australia," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1312, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.

    More about this item


    Labour Economics; Wages; Compensation; and Labor Costs; Public Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy


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