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Minimum Wages and the Distribution of Family Incomes

Listed author(s):
  • Dube, Arindrajit

    ()

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

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    Using the March Current Population Survey data from 1984 to 2013, I provide a comprehensive evaluation of how minimum wage policies influence the distribution of family incomes. I find robust evidence that higher minimum wages shift down the cumulative distribution of family incomes at the bottom, reducing the share of non-elderly individuals with incomes below 50, 75, 100, and 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold. The long run (3 or more years) minimum wage elasticity of the non-elderly poverty rate with respect to the minimum wage ranges between -0.22 and -0.55 across alternative specifications that subsume most of the approaches used in the literature to construct valid counterfactuals. Inverting the policy's effect on the cumulative distribution, I estimate minimum wage elasticities for unconditional quantiles of family incomes. The long run minimum wage elasticities for the 10th and 15th unconditional quantiles of equivalized family incomes range between 0.15 and 0.49 depending on specification. A reduction in public assistance partly offsets these income gains, which are on average 72% as large when using an expanded income definition including tax credits and non-cash transfers.

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    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10572.

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    Length: 71 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2017
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10572
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    1. Allegretto, Sylvia & Dube, Arindrajit & Reich, Michael & Zipperer, Ben, 2013. "Credible Research Designs for Minimum Wage Studies," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt3hk7s3fw, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    2. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
    3. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2002. "Do Minimum Wages Fight Poverty?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(3), pages 315-333, July.
    4. Lonnie Stevans & David Sessions, 2001. "Minimum Wage Policy and Poverty in the United States," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 65-75.
    5. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 2005. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Distribution of Family Incomes: A Nonparametric Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 867-894.
    6. John T. Addison & McKinleyl Blackburn, 1999. "Minimum Wages and Poverty," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 393-409, April.
    7. Sylvia A. Allegretto & Arindrajit Dube & Michael Reich, 2011. "Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment? Accounting for Heterogeneity and Selectivity in State Panel Data," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 205-240, 04.
    8. Reich, Michael & West, Rachel, 2015. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Food Stamp Enrollment and Expenditures," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt0wh9z8x4, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    9. David Neumark & J. M. Ian Salas & William Wascher, 2014. "Revisiting the Minimum Wage—Employment Debate: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 67(3_suppl), pages 608-648, May.
    10. Thomas MaCurdy, 2015. "How Effective Is the Minimum Wage at Supporting the Poor?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(2), pages 497-545.
    11. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    12. Joseph J. Sabia & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2010. "Minimum Wages and Poverty: Will a $9.50 Federal Minimum Wage Really Help the Working Poor?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 592-623, January.
    13. David Neumark, 2016. "Policy levers to increase jobs and increase income from work after the Great Recession," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-38, December.
    14. Craig Gundersen & James Ziliak, 2004. "Poverty and macroeconomic performance across space, race, and family structure," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(1), pages 61-86, February.
    15. 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.
    16. Nathaniel Hendren, 2014. "Efficient Welfare Weights," NBER Working Papers 20351, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Richard V. Burkhauser & Joseph J. Sabia, 2007. "The Effectiveness Of Minimum-Wage Increases In Reducing Poverty: Past, Present, And Future," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(2), pages 262-281, 04.
    18. Marianne E. Page & Joanne Spetz & Jane Millar, 2005. "Does the minimum wage affect welfare caseloads?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 273-295.
    19. Havnes, Tarjei & Mogstad, Magne, 2015. "Is universal child care leveling the playing field?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 100-114.
    20. Jonathan Meer & Jeremy West, 2016. "Effects of the Minimum Wage on Employment Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(2), pages 500-522.
    21. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    22. Joseph J. Sabia, 2008. "Minimum wages and the economic well-being of single mothers," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(4), pages 848-866.
    23. Dale Belman & Paul J. Wolfson, 2014. "What Does the Minimum Wage Do?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wdmwd, June.
    24. Liana Fox & Irwin Garfinkel & Neeraj Kaushal & Jane Waldfogel & Christopher Wimer, 2014. "Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure," NBER Working Papers 19789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. David R. Morgan & Kenneth Kickham, 2001. "Children in Poverty: Do State Policies Matter?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 82(3), pages 478-493.
    26. Michael Reich & Rachel West, 2015. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Food Stamp Enrollment and Expenditures," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 668-694, October.
    27. repec:sae:ilrrev:v:67:y:2014:i:2.5:p:608-648 is not listed on IDEAS
    28. Arindrajit Dube & T. William Lester & Michael Reich, 2010. "Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 945-964, November.
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