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Efficiency wages and the economic effects of the minimum wage: evidence from a low-wage labour market

  • Andreas Georgiadis
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    We exploit a natural experiment provided by the 1990 introduction of the UK National Minimum Wage (NMW) to investigate the relationship between wages and monitoring and to test for Efficiency Wages considerations in a low-wage sector, the UK residential care homes industry. Our findings seem to support the wage-supervision trade-off prediction of the shirking model, and that employers didn't dissipate minimum wage rents by increasing work intensity or effort requirements on the job. Estimation results suggest that higher wage costs were more than offset by lower monitoring costs, and thus the overall evidence imply that the NMW may have operated as an Efficiency Wage. These findings support Efficiency Wage models used to explain a non-negative employment effect of the Minimum Wage and provide an explanation of recent evidence from the care homes sector that although the wage structure was heavily affected by the NMW introduction, there were moderate employment effects.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19628/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19628.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19628
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    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 1999. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 106-134, February.
    2. Erica L. Groshen & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "The structure of supervision and pay in hospitals," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 134-146, February.
    3. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1987. "Carrots and Sticks: Pay, Supervision, and Turnover," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages S136-52, October.
    4. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," NBER Working Papers 4509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Carmichael, Lorne, 1985. "Can Unemployment Be Involuntary? Comment [Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1213-14, December.
    6. 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, 03.
    7. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin Lang, 1986. "Are Efficiency Wages Efficient?," NBER Working Papers 1935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Ownership, Agency, and Wages: An Examination of Franchising in the Fast Food Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 75-101, February.
    10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
    11. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
    12. Brunello, Giorgio, 1995. "The Relationship between Supervision and Pay: Evidence from the British New Earnings Survey," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(3), pages 309-21, August.
    13. David Metcalf, 2004. "The impact of the national minimum wage on the pay distribution, employment and training," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C84-C86, 03.
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