IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Minimum Wage and Inequality - The Effects of Education and Technology

  • Zsófia L. Bárány

While there has been intense debate in the empirical literature about the effects of minimum wages on inequality in the US, its general equilibrium effects have been given little attention. In order to quantify the full effects of a decreasing minimum wage on inequality, I build a dynamic general equilibrium model, based on a two-sector growth model where the supply of high-skilled workers and the direction of technical change are endogenous. I find that a permanent reduction in the minimum wage leads to an expansion of low-skilled employment, which increases the incentives to acquire skills, thus changing the composition and size of high-skilled employment. These permanent changes in the supply of labour alter the investment flow into R&D, thereby decreasing the skill-bias of technology. The reduction in the minimum wage has spill-over effects on the entire distribution, affecting upper-tail inequality. Through a calibration exercise, I find that a 30 percent reduction in the real value of the minimum wage, as in the early 1980s, accounts for 15 percent of the subsequent rise in the skill premium, 18.5 percent of the increase in overall inequality, 45 percent of the increase in inequality in the bottom half, and 7 percent of the rise in inequality at the top half of the wage distribution.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1076.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1076
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:1:p:35-78 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-93, September.
  3. Cahuc, Pierre & Michel, Philippe, 1996. "Minimum wage unemployment and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1463-1482, August.
  4. David Card, 1992. "Using regional variation in wages to measure the effects of the federal minimum wage," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 22-37, October.
  5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:469-497 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Alberto Alesina & Joseph Zeira, 2006. "Technology and Labor Regulations," NBER Working Papers 12581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:977-1023 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," NBER Working Papers 11628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kiley, Michael T, 1999. "The Supply of Skilled Labour and Skill-Biased Technological Progress," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 708-24, October.
  10. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:469-497 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Richard Sutch, 2010. "The Unexpected Long-Run Impact of the Minimum Wage: An Educational Cascade," NBER Working Papers 16355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ravn, Morten O & Sorensen, Jan Rose, 1999. " Schooling, Training, Growth and Minimum Wages," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(3), pages 441-57, September.
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:1:p:33-60 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  15. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explorations with a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 6384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  17. Richard Sutch, 2010. "The Unexpected Long-Run Impact of the Minimum Wage: An Educational Cascade," Working Papers 201001, University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2010.
  18. Alan B. Krueger & David Card, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1397-1420, December.
  19. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2003. "Wages and Employment in the United States and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 573-602, June.
  20. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Solving Dynamic General Equilibrium Models Using a Second-Order Approximation to the Policy Function," NBER Technical Working Papers 0282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  22. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  23. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2004. "Trade, Inequality, and Poverty: What Do We Know? Evidence from Recent Trade Liberalization Episodes in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 10593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. David Neumark & Olena Nizalova, 2004. "Minimum Wage Effects in the Longer Run," PPIC Working Papers 2004.03, Public Policy Institute of California.
  25. Brown, Charles & Gilroy, Curtis & Kohen, Andrew, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 487-528, June.
  26. Winfried Koeniger & Marco Leonardi, 2007. "Capital deepening and wage differentials: Germany versus US," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 71-116, 01.
  27. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  28. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1076. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.