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Minimum Wages, Globalization and Poverty in Honduras


  • Gindling, T. H.

    () (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

  • Terrell, Katherine

    (University of Michigan)


To be competitive in the global economy, some argue that Latin American countries need to reduce or eliminate labor market regulations such as minimum wage legislation because they constrain job creation and hence increase poverty. On the other hand, minimum wage increases can have a direct positive impact on family income and may therefore help to reduce poverty. We take advantage of a complex minimum wage system in a poor country that has been exposed to the forces of globalization to test whether minimum wages are an effective poverty reduction tool in this environment. We find that minimum wage increases in Honduras reduce extreme poverty, with an elasticity of -0.18, and all poverty, with an elasticity of -0.10 (using the national poverty lines). These results are driven entirely by the effect on workers in large private sector firms, where minimum wage legislation is enforced. Increases in the minimum do not affect the incidence of poverty in sectors where minimum wages are not enforced (small firms) or do not apply (self-employed and public sector).

Suggested Citation

  • Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2006. "Minimum Wages, Globalization and Poverty in Honduras," IZA Discussion Papers 2497, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2497

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pauw, Karl & Leibbrandt, Murray, 2012. "Minimum Wages and Household Poverty: General Equilibrium Macro–Micro Simulations for South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 771-783.
    2. T. H. Gindling, 2014. "Does increasing the minimum wage reduce poverty in developing countries?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-30, May.
    3. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy & Siddique, Zahra, 2011. "Tax Evasion, Minimum Wage Non-Compliance and Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 6228, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Patrick Belser & Uma Rani, 2015. "Minimum wages and inequality," Chapters,in: Labour Markets, Institutions and Inequality, chapter 5, pages 123-146 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. ArnabK. Basu & NancyH. Chau & Ravi Kanbur, 2010. "Turning a Blind Eye: Costly Enforcement, Credible Commitment and Minimum Wage Laws," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 244-269, March.
    6. 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.
    7. World Bank, 2012. "Better Jobs in Central America : The Role of Human Capital," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11924, The World Bank.
    8. 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.
    9. Cruces Guillermo & Fields Gary S. & Jaume David & Viollaz Mariana, 2015. "The growth-employment-poverty nexus in Latin America in the 2000s: Honduras country study," WIDER Working Paper Series 078, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. repec:spr:ijlaec:v:60:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s41027-017-0077-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:wdevel:v:102:y:2018:i:c:p:135-157 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Alexandros Karakitsios & Manos Matsaganis, 2018. "Minimum Wage Effects on Poverty and Inequality," DEOS Working Papers 1801, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    15. Arvind Ashta, 2017. "Work-sharing from Different Angles: A literature review," Working Papers CEB 17-033, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    16. Fernando Alberto Groisman & Albano Blas Vergara & Analía Calero & Julia Liniado & María Eugenia Sconfienza & Maria Soledad Cubas & Santiago Boffi, 2015. "Social Protection to the Informal Sector: The Role of Minimum Wage and Income Transfer Policies," Working Papers PMMA 2015-10, PEP-PMMA.
    17. 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.
    18. Del Carpio, Ximena & Nguyen, Cuong & Nguyen, Ha & Wang, Choon, 2013. "The Impact of Minimum Wages on Employment, Wages and Welfare: The Case of Vietnam," MPRA Paper 83677, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Sergey Kapelyuk, 2015. "The effect of minimum wage on poverty," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 23(2), pages 389-423, April.
    20. Jose Antonio Cordero, 2009. "Honduras: Recent Economic Performance," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2009-42, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    21. Kapelyuk Sergey, 2014. "Impact of minimum wage on income distribution and poverty in Russia," EERC Working Paper Series 14/03e, EERC Research Network, Russia and CIS.

    More about this item


    minimum wage; poverty; Central America; Honduras;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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