The Minimum Wage in a Deflationary Economy: The Japanese Experience, 1994|2003
The median wage in Japan has fallen nominally since 1999 due to a severe recession, while the statutory minimum wage has steadily increased over the same period. We used large micro-data sets from two government surveys to investigate how the minimum wage has affected wage distribution under the unusual circumstances of deflation. The compression of the lower tail of female wage distribution was almost completely explained by the increased real value of the minimum wage. The steady increases in the effective minimum wage reduced employment among low-skilled, young and middle-aged female workers, but the mechanical effect associated with disemployment on wage compression was minimal. These results held even after controlling for composition effects. The minimum wage contributed to the reduction in the pay gap between full-time and part-time workers.
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