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Estimating the effect of minimum wages on employment from the distribution of wages: a critical view

  • Richard Dickens
  • Stephen Machin
  • Alan Manning

In two papers, Meyer and Wise (1983a,b) present an ingenious method for estimating the effect of minimum wage rates on wages and employment using data based only on the observed cross-sectional distribution of wages. They, and others who have used this method, have generally found that the minimum wage causes substantial losses in employment. In this paper we evaluate the robustness of this technique. We argue that the estimates, at least for the UK, are very sensitive to the functional form assumed for the distribution of wages and to the assumption made about how far up the wage distribution the minimum wage has spillover effects.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51648/
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 51648.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 1994
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51648
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. David Card, 1992. "Using Regional Variation in Wages to Measure the Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 22-37, October.
  2. 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.
  3. Singh, S K & Maddala, G S, 1976. "A Function for Size Distribution of Incomes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 963-70, September.
  4. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry," NBER Working Papers 3997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. McDonald, James B, 1984. "Some Generalized Functions for the Size Distribution of Income," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 647-63, May.
  7. Kaufman, Roger T, 1989. "The Effects of Statutory Minimum Rates of Pay on Employment in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1040-53, December.
  8. van Soest, A.H.O. & Kapteyn, A.J., 1989. "The impact of minimum wage regulations on employment and the wage rate distribution," Discussion Paper 1989-47, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  9. Dickens, Richard & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1999. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-22, January.
  10. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1992. "Employment Effects of Minimum and Subminimum Wages: Panel Data on State Minimum Wage Laws," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 55-81, October.
  11. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1677-98, November.
  12. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment and Earnings of Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 66-100, January.
  13. Jean Baldwin Grossman, 1983. "The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Other Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(3), pages 359-378.
  14. Charles Brown & Curtis Gilroy & Andrew Kohen, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 0846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1994. "The effects of minimum wages on wage dispersion and employment: Evidence from the U.K. Wages Councils," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(2), pages 319-329, January.
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