IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/5107.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Turning a Blind Eye: Costly Enforcement, Credible Commitment and Minimum Wage Laws

Author

Listed:
  • Basu, Arnab K
  • Chau, Nancy H
  • Kanbur, Ravi

Abstract

In many countries, the authorities turn a blind eye to minimum wage laws that they have themselves passed. But if they are not going to enforce a minimum wage, why have one? Or if a high minimum wage is not going to be enforced one hundred percent, why not have a lower one in the first place? Can economists make sense of such phenomena? This paper argues that we can, if a high official minimum wage acts as a credible signal of commitment to stronger enforcement of minimum wage laws. We demonstrate this as an equilibrium phenomenon in a model of a monopsonistic labour market in which enforcement is costly, and the government cannot pre-commit to enforcement intensity. In this setting we also demonstrate the paradoxical result that a government whose objective function gives greater weight to efficiency relative to distributional concerns may end up with an outcome that is less efficient. We conclude by suggesting that the explanations offered in this paper may apply to a broad range of phenomena where regulations are imperfectly enforced.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, Arnab K & Chau, Nancy H & Kanbur, Ravi, 2005. "Turning a Blind Eye: Costly Enforcement, Credible Commitment and Minimum Wage Laws," CEPR Discussion Papers 5107, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5107
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5107
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Grenier, Gilles, 1982. "On Compliance with the Minimum Wage Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 184-187, February.
    2. Sara lemos, 2004. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage in the Formal and Informal Sectors in Brazil," Discussion Papers in Economics 04/8, Division of Economics, School of Business, University of Leicester.
    3. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
    4. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number heck04-1, June.
    5. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Kanbur, Ravi, 2009. "A theory of employment guarantees: Contestability, credibility and distributional concerns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 482-497, April.
    6. Walter Y. Oi & Todd L. Idson, 1999. "Workers Are More Productive in Large Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 104-108, May.
    7. Manning, Alan, 2011. "Imperfect Competition in the Labor Market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 11, pages 973-1041, Elsevier.
    8. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    9. Pedro Portugal & Ana Rute Cardoso, 2006. "Disentangling the Minimum Wage Puzzle: An Analysis of Worker Accessions and Separations," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(5), pages 988-1013, September.
    10. William Maloney & Jairo Mendez, 2004. "Measuring the Impact of Minimum Wages. Evidence from Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 109-130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Chang, Yang-Ming & Ehrlich, Isaac, 1985. "On the Economics of Compliance with the Minimum Wage Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(1), pages 84-91, February.
    12. Heckman, James J. & Pages, Carmen (ed.), 2004. "Law and Employment," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226322827, July.
    13. Fershtman, Chaim & Fishman, Arthur, 1994. "The 'perverse' effects of wage and price controls in search markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 1099-1112, May.
    14. Russell S. Sobel, 1999. "Theory and Evidence on the Political Economy of the Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 761-785, August.
    15. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2010. "Minimum Wages, Globalization, and Poverty in Honduras," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 908-918, June.
    16. Lemos, Sara, 2009. "Minimum wage effects in a developing country," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 224-237, April.
    17. Neumark, David & Wascher, William L., 2007. "Minimum Wages and Employment," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 3(1–2), pages 1-182, March.
    18. Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2003. "Minimum Wages and Compliance: The Case of Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 427-450, January.
    19. Flanagan, Robert J, 1989. "Compliance and Enforcement Decisions under the National Labor Relations Act," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 257-280, July.
    20. T.H. Gindling & Katherine Terrell, 2004. "Legal Minimum Wages and the Wages of Formal and Informal Sector Workers in Costa Rica," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-647, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    21. Neumark, D. & Schweitzer, M. & Wascher, W., 1999. "The Effect of Minimum Wages Throughout the Wage Distribution," Papers 9919, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
    22. Ashenfelter, Orley & Smith, Robert S, 1979. "Compliance with the Minimum Wage Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 333-350, April.
    23. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2003. "Where the Minimum Wage Bites Hard: Introduction of Minimum Wages to a Low Wage Sector," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 154-180, March.
    24. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Peter Sanfey, 1996. "Wages, Profits, and Rent-Sharing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 227-251.
    25. Bhaskar, V & To, Ted, 1999. "Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 190-203, April.
    26. Freeman, Richard B, 1996. "The Minimum Wage as a Redistributive Tool," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 639-649, May.
    27. Yaniv, Gideon, 2001. "Minimum Wage Noncompliance and the Employment Decision," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 596-603, July.
    28. John R. Lott Jr. & Russell D. Roberts, 1995. "The Expected Penalty for Committing a Crime: An Analysis of Minimum Wage Violations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 397-408.
    29. Harrison, Ann & Scorse, Jason, 2003. "Globalization's impact on compliance with labor standards," MPRA Paper 36450, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    30. Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2003. "Minimum Wages and Compliance: The Case of Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 427-450, January.
    31. Alan Manning & Ted To, 2002. "Oligopsony and Monopsonistic Competition in Labor Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 155-174, Spring.
    32. T. H. Gindling & Katherine Terrell, 2004. "Legal Minimum Wages and the Wages of Formal and Informal Sector Workers in Costa Rica," UMBC Economics Department Working Papers 04-102, UMBC Department of Economics.
    33. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Soundararajan, Vidhya, 2019. "Heterogeneous effects of imperfectly enforced minimum wages in low-wage labor markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 355-374.
    2. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Siddique, Zahra, 2011. "Tax Evasion, Minimum Wage Non-Compliance and Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 6228, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Kanbur, Ravi, 2009. "A theory of employment guarantees: Contestability, credibility and distributional concerns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 482-497, April.
    4. Dinkelman, Taryn & Ranchhod, Vimal, 2012. "Evidence on the impact of minimum wage laws in an informal sector: Domestic workers in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 27-45.
    5. Ronconi, Lucas & Zarazaga S.J., Rodrigo, 2015. "Labor Exclusion and the Erosion of Citizenship Responsibilities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 453-461.
    6. Badaoui, Eliane & Walsh, Frank, 2022. "Productivity, non-compliance and the minimum wage," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    7. Mansoor, Kashif & O'Neill, Donal, 2021. "Minimum wage compliance and household welfare: An analysis of over 1500 minimum wages in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    8. Danziger, Leif, 2010. "Endogenous monopsony and the perverse effect of the minimum wage in small firms," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 224-229, January.
    9. Bali, Namrata & Chen, Martha Alter & Kanbur, Ravi, 2012. "THE CORNELL-SEWA-WIEGO Exposure and Dialogue Programme: An Overview of the Process and Main Outcomes," Working Papers 128865, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    10. Ham, Andrés, 2018. "The Consequences of Legal Minimum Wages in Honduras," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 135-157.
    11. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2012. "On the evasion of employment protection legislation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 9-17.
    12. Chaudhuri, Sarbajit & Marjit, Sugata, 2017. "International trade and quality of labour," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 582-595.
    13. Pérez Pérez, Jorge, 2020. "The minimum wage in formal and informal sectors: Evidence from an inflation shock," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    14. Gudibande, Rohan Ravindra & Jacob, Arun, 2020. "Minimum wages for domestic workers: impact evaluation of the Indian experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2006. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research," NBER Working Papers 12663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dinkelman, Taryn & Ranchhod, Vimal, 2012. "Evidence on the impact of minimum wage laws in an informal sector: Domestic workers in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 27-45.
    3. Danziger, Leif, 2009. "Noncompliance and the effects of the minimum wage on hours and welfare in competitive labor markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 625-630, December.
    4. Badaoui, Eliane & Walsh, Frank, 2022. "Productivity, non-compliance and the minimum wage," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    5. Danziger, Leif, 2010. "Endogenous monopsony and the perverse effect of the minimum wage in small firms," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 224-229, January.
    6. Betcherman, Gordon, 2014. "Labor market regulations : what do we know about their impacts in developing countries ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6819, The World Bank.
    7. Richard B. Freeman, 2009. "Labor Regulations, Unions, and Social Protection in Developing Countries: Market distortions or Efficient Institutions?," NBER Working Papers 14789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Sara Wong, 2017. "Minimum wage impacts on wages and hours worked of low-income workers in Ecuador," Working Papers PMMA 2017-14, PEP-PMMA.
    9. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau & Ravi Kanbur, 2015. "Contractual Dualism, Market Power and Informality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(589), pages 1534-1573, December.
    10. Alaniz, Enrique & Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2011. "The impact of minimum wages on wages, work and poverty in Nicaragua," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(S1), pages 45-59.
    11. Kerry L. Papps, 2012. "The Effects of Social Security Taxes and Minimum Wages on Employment: Evidence from Turkey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 65(3), pages 686-707, July.
    12. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Siddique, Zahra, 2011. "Tax Evasion, Minimum Wage Non-Compliance and Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 6228, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Andrés Ham, 2015. "Minimum wage violations in Honduras," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-19, December.
    14. Uma Rani, 2017. "Minimum Wage Policies and Their Effects in Developing Countries: A Comparative Perspective," The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Springer;The Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE), vol. 60(1), pages 33-55, March.
    15. Jellal, Mohamed, 2012. "Maroc salaire minimum emploi et pauvreté [Morocco minimum wage employment and poverty]," MPRA Paper 38491, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Freeman, Richard B., 2010. "Labor Regulations, Unions, and Social Protection in Developing Countries," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Dani Rodrik & Mark Rosenzweig (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 4657-4702, Elsevier.
    17. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2007. "The effects of multiple minimum wages throughout the labor market: The case of Costa Rica," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 485-511, June.
    18. Haroon Bhorat & Ravi Kanbur & Benjamin Stanwix, 2017. "Minimum Wages in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Primer," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 32(1), pages 21-74.
    19. Long, Cheryl & Yang, Jin, 2016. "How do firms respond to minimum wage regulation in China? Evidence from Chinese private firms," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 267-284.
    20. Haroon Bhorat & Tara Caetano & Benjamin Jourdan & Ravi Kanbur & Christopher Rooney & Benjamin Stanwix & Ingrid Woolard, 2016. "Investigating the Feasibility of a National Minimum Wage for South Africa," Working Papers 201601, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dynamic consistency; equity and efficiency; minimum wage; non-complience;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5107. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.