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Minimum Wage and Justice?


  • Oren Levin-Waldman


The debate over the minimum wage is often conducted on a technical level, primarily focusing on the effects of wage increases. In recent years the debate has often been between those who maintain that increases in the minimum wage will result in disemployment, particularly among teenagers, on the one hand and those who maintain that increases will offer much needed assistance to the poor on the other. Lost in this focus have been serious discussions of the ethical grounds for such a policy. Core to the issue of the minimum wage are questions of justice and the type of society we would like to create. This article argues that the technical approach to the minimum wage so often taken is an outgrowth of a particular conception of justice, one predicted on liberal neutrality. A different conception of justice would enable us to view the minimum wage as but one tool for achieving other social objectives. Moreover, a justice approach to the minimum wage would enable us to consider our values because we would be required to engage in a more philosophically grounded discussion of the policy and the issues it raises.

Suggested Citation

  • Oren Levin-Waldman, 2000. "Minimum Wage and Justice?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 58(1), pages 43-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:58:y:2000:i:1:p:43-62 DOI: 10.1080/003467600363101

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