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Is a Minimum Wage an Appropriate Instrument for Redistribution?

Author

Listed:
  • Aart Gerritsen
  • Bas Jacobs

Abstract

We analyze the redistributive (dis)advantages of a minimum wage over income taxation in competitive labor markets. A minimum wage causes more unemployment, but also leads to more skill formation as unemployment is concentrated on low-skilled workers. A simple condition based on three sufficient statistics shows that a minimum wage is desirable if the social welfare gains of more skill formation outweigh the social welfare losses of increased unemployment. Using a highly conservative calibration, a minimum wage decrease is shown to be part of a Pareto-improving policy reform for all countries under consideration, except possibly the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Aart Gerritsen & Bas Jacobs, 2014. "Is a Minimum Wage an Appropriate Instrument for Redistribution?," CESifo Working Paper Series 4588, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4588
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp4588.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hungerbühler, Mathias & Lehmann, Etienne, 2009. "On the optimality of a minimum wage: New insights from optimal tax theory," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 464-481, April.
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    4. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1987. "Minimum wage legislation as a second best policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 490-498.
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    8. Luttmer Erzo F.P., 2007. "Does the Minimum Wage Cause Inefficient Rationing?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, October.
    9. David H. Autor & Alan Manning & Christopher L. Smith, 2016. "The Contribution of the Minimum Wage to US Wage Inequality over Three Decades: A Reassessment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 58-99, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    minimum wage; optimal redistribution; unemployment; education;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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