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The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure


  • Daniel Aaronson
  • Eric French
  • James MacDonald


Using store-level and aggregated Consumer Price Index data, we show that restaurant prices rise in response to minimum wage increases under several sources of identifying variation. We introduce a general model of employment determination that implies minimum wage hikes cause prices to rise in competitive labor markets but potentially fall in monopsonistic environments. Furthermore, the model implies employment and prices are always negatively related. Therefore, our empirical results provide evidence against the importance of monopsony power for understanding small observed employment responses to minimum wage changes. Our estimated price responses challenge other explanations of the small employment response, too.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Aaronson & Eric French & James MacDonald, 2008. "The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 688-720.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:43:y:2008:i:3:p:688-720

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
    2. Daniel Aaronson & Eric French, 2007. "Product Market Evidence on the Employment Effects of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 167-200.
    3. Solow, Robert M., 1979. "Another possible source of wage stickiness," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 79-82.
    4. Anil K Kashyap, 1995. "Sticky Prices: New Evidence from Retail Catalogs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 245-274.
    5. Alan Manning, 1995. "How Do We Know That Real Wages Are Too High?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1111-1125.
    6. David S. Lee, 1999. "Wage Inequality in the United States During the 1980s: Rising Dispersion or Falling Minimum Wage?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 977-1023.
    7. Deltas, George, 2007. "Can a minimum wage increase employment and reduce prices in a neoclassical perfect information economy?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 657-674, August.
    8. Burkhauser, Richard V & Couch, Kenneth A & Wittenburg, David C, 2000. "A Reassessment of the New Economics of the Minimum Wage Literature with Monthly Data from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 653-680, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emek Basker & Muhammad Taimur Khan, 2016. "Does the Minimum Wage Bite into Fast-Food Prices?," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 129-148, June.
    2. Jonathan Wadsworth, 2010. "Did the National Minimum Wage Affect UK Prices?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 31(1), pages 81-120, March.
    3. Addison, John T. & Blackburn, McKinley L. & Cotti, Chad D., 2009. "Do minimum wages raise employment? Evidence from the U.S. retail-trade sector," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 397-408, August.
    4. Jeannette Wicks-Lim & Jeffrey Thompson, 2010. "Combining Minimum Wage and Earned Income Tax Credit Policies to Guarantee a Decent Living Standard to All U.S. Workers," Published Studies peri_mw_eitc_oct2010, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    5. Luis Eduardo Arango & Luz Karine Ardila & Miguel Igancio Gómez, 2010. "Efecto del cambio del salario mínimo en el precio de las comidas fuera del hogar en Colombia," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 006621, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    6. Addison, John T. & Blackburn, McKinley L. & Cotti, Chad, 2008. "New Estimates of the Effects of Minimum Wages in the U.S. Retail Trade Sector," IZA Discussion Papers 3597, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Daniel Aaronson & Eric French, 2007. "Product Market Evidence on the Employment Effects of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 167-200.
    8. David O. Meltzer & Zhuo Chen, 2011. "The Impact of Minimum Wage Rates on Body Weight in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 17-34 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jeffrey Clemens & Michael R. Strain, 2017. "Estimating the Employment Effects of Recent Minimum Wage Changes: Early Evidence, an Interpretative Framework, and a Pre-Commitment to Future Analysis," NBER Working Papers 23084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Evan Totty, 2017. "The Effect Of Minimum Wages On Employment: A Factor Model Approach," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1712-1737, October.
    11. Angel-Urdinola, Diego F., 2008. "Can the introduction of a minimum wage in FYR Macedonia decrease the gender wage gap?," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 46851, The World Bank.
    12. Isaac Sorkin, 2015. "Are There Long-Run Effects of the Minimum Wage?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 306-333, April.
    13. James M. MacDonald & Daniel Aaronson, 2006. "How Firms Construct Price Changes: Evidence from Restaurant Responses to Increased Minimum Wages," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 292-307.
    14. Lordan, Grace & Neumark, David, 2018. "People versus Machines: The Impact of Minimum Wages on Automatable Jobs," IZA Discussion Papers 11297, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Grace Lordan & David Neumark, 2017. "People Versus Machines: The Impact of Minimum Wages on Automatable Jobs," NBER Working Papers 23667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Arpaia, Alfonso & Cardoso, Pedro & Kiss, Aron & Van Herck, Kristine & Vandeplas, Anneleen, 2017. "Statutory Minimum Wages in the EU: Institutional Settings and Macroeconomic Implications," IZA Policy Papers 124, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Werner, Thomas & Sell, Friedrich L. & Reinisch, David C., 2013. "Price effects of minimum wages: Evidence from the construction sector in East and West Germany," Working Papers in Economics 2013,4, Bundeswehr University Munich, Economic Research Group.
    18. Kraft, Kornelius & Rammer,Christian & Gottschalk, Sandra, 2012. "Minimum wages and competition: The case of the German roofing sector," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-083, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    19. Aaronson, Daniel & French, Eric & Sorkin, Isaac, 2013. "Firm Dynamics and the Minimum Wage: A Putty-Clay Approach," Working Paper Series WP-2013-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    20. Jellal, Mohamed, 2012. "Maroc salaire minimum emploi et pauvreté
      [Morocco minimum wage employment and poverty]
      ," MPRA Paper 38491, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Bonanno, Alessandro & Lopez, Rigoberto A., 2012. "Wal-Mart's monopsony power in metro and non-metro labor markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 569-579.
    22. repec:ilo:ilowps:462988 is not listed on IDEAS

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