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A Minimum-Wage Model of Unemployment and Growth: The Case of a Backward-Bending Demand Curve for Labor

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Abstract

We add a minimum wage and hence involuntary unemployment to a conventional two-sector model of a perfectly competitive economy with optimal saving and endogenous growth. Our resulting model highlights the possible case of a backward-bending demand curve for labor, along which a hike in the minimum wage might increase total employment. This possibility provides theoretical support for some controversial empirical studies, which challenge the textbook prediction of an inverse relationship between employment and the minimum wage. Our model also implies that a minimum-wage hike has negative implications for both the growth rate and lifetime utility.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard A. Brecher & Till O. Gross, 2014. "A Minimum-Wage Model of Unemployment and Growth: The Case of a Backward-Bending Demand Curve for Labor," Carleton Economic Papers 14-05, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:14-05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cahuc, Pierre & Michel, Philippe, 1996. "Minimum wage unemployment and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1463-1482, August.
    2. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Lee, David & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 739-749.
    5. Daron Acemoglu, 2010. "When Does Labor Scarcity Encourage Innovation?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1037-1078.
    6. Neumark, David & Salas, J.M. Ian & Wascher, William, 2013. "Revisiting the Minimum Wage-Employment Debate: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater?," IZA Discussion Papers 7166, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Bagicha S. Minhas, 1962. "The Homohypallagic Production Function, Factor-Intensity Reversals, and the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 138-138.
    8. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1962. "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 155-173.
    9. Xavier Sala-I-Martin, 1997. "Transfers, Social Safety Nets, and Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 81-102, March.
    10. Richard A. Brecher & Zhiqi Chen & Zhihao Yu, 2013. "The Trouble with Offshoring: Static and Dynamic Losses in the Presence of Unemployment," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(1), pages 1-11, January.
    11. Flinn, Christopher, 2003. "Minimum Wage Effects on Labor Market Outcomes under Search with Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. David Cass, 1965. "Optimum Growth in an Aggregative Model of Capital Accumulation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 233-240.
    13. Brecher, Richard A., 1974. "Optimal commercial policy for a minimum-wage economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 139-149, May.
    14. T.N. Srinivasan, 1962. "On a Two Sector Model of Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 139R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard A. Brecher & Till O. Gross, 2014. "Employment Gains from Minimum-Wage Hikes under Perfect Competition: A Simple General-Equilibrium Analysis," Carleton Economic Papers 14-14, Carleton University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal growth; Minimum wage; Learning by doing; Involuntary unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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