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Minimum Wages, Minimum Labour Costs and the Tax Treatment of Low-Wage Employment

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  • Immervoll, Herwig

    () (OECD)

Abstract

International comparisons of minimum-wage levels have largely focused on the gross value of minimum wages, ignoring the effects of taxation on both labour costs and the net income of employees. This paper presents estimates of the tax burdens facing minimum-wage workers. These are used as a basis for cross-country comparisons of the net earnings of these workers as well as the cost of employing them. In addition, results show the evolution of net incomes and labour costs during the 2000-2005 period and the relative importance of minimum-wage adjustments and tax reforms in driving these changes. Statutory minimum wages are in place in 21 OECD countries, ranging between USD 0.7 and USD 10 per hour. In a number of countries, minimum-wage levels have gone up in real terms in recent years. Given considerable tax burdens even at the lowest wage levels, tax policy measures can have a sizable impact on the net earnings available to low-wage workers. Social contributions and payroll taxes add, on average, around 18% to the cost of employing minimum-wage workers. The international variation of minimum labour costs in dollar terms is enormous, with hourly costs in the highest-cost country (the Netherlands) exceeding those at the bottom (Mexico) by a factor of 12. Differences are also large when compared across countries that are closer geographically or whose economies are more integrated. Despite reductions in non-wage labour costs in several countries, there has been no convergence of minimum labour costs in recent years. This paper is the working paper version of a chapter to appear in the 2007 edition of Taxing Wages, an annual OECD publication. The Taxing Wages chapter will include results for 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • Immervoll, Herwig, 2007. "Minimum Wages, Minimum Labour Costs and the Tax Treatment of Low-Wage Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 2555, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2555
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2006. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research," NBER Working Papers 12663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kertesi, Gabor & Köll?, János, 2003. "Fighting “Low Equilibria” by Doubling the Minimum Wage? Hungary’s Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 970, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Christian Zehnder, "undated". "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IEW - Working Papers 247, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jérôme Gautié, 2010. "France: Towards the End of an Active Minimum Wage Policy?," Chapters,in: The Minimum Wage Revisited in the Enlarged EU, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Diego Collado & Bea Cantillon & Karel Van den Bosch & Tim Goedemé & Dieter Vandelannoote, 2016. "The end of cheap talk about poverty reduction: the cost of closing the poverty gap while maintaining work incentives," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/08, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    3. Eichhorst, Werner & Tobsch, Verena, 2008. "Report No. 17: Familienunterstützende Dienstleistungen: Internationale Benchmarking-Studie," IZA Research Reports 17, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Philippe Askenazy & Eve Caroli & Jérôme Gautié, 2009. "Un panorama des bas salaires et de la qualité de l'emploi peu qualifié en France," PSE Working Papers halshs-00567693, HAL.
    5. Müller, Kai-Uwe & Steiner, Viktor, 2008. "Would a Legal Minimum Wage Reduce Poverty? A Microsimulation Study for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Müller, Kai-Uwe & Steiner, Viktor, 2010. "Labor Market and Income Effects of a Legal Minimum Wage in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4929, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Lee, David & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 739-749.
    8. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency," CESifo Working Paper Series 3534, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2014. "Comparing inequality aversion across countries when labor supply responses differ," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(5), pages 845-873, October.
    10. Nikica Mojsoska-Blazevski, 2012. "Taxation of labour: the effect of labour taxes and costs on employment in Macedonia," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(2), pages 241-256, December.
    11. Pio Baake & Vanessa von Schlippenbach, 2008. "Upfront Payments and Listing Decisions," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 793, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    12. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00567675 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Pierre Cahuc & Guy Laroque, 2014. "Optimal Taxation and Monopsonistic Labor Market: Does Monopsony Justify the Minimum Wage?," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(2), pages 259-273, April.
    14. Rense Nieuwenhuis & Wim Van Lancker & Diego Collado & Bea Cantillon, 2016. "Has the potential for compensating poverty by women’s employment growth been depleted?," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/02, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    15. Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2008. "Can Policy Interact with Culture? Minimum Wage and the Quality of Labor Relations," Working Papers hal-00972820, HAL.
    16. Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2011. "Civil Society And The State: The Interplay Between Cooperation And Minimum Wage Regulation," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 3-42, February.
    17. Kai-Uwe Müller & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Would a Legal Minimum Wage Reduce Poverty?: A Microsimulation Study for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 791, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    18. Eve Caroli & Jérôme Gautié & Annie Lamanthe, 2009. "High relative wages and high work intensity: The French food processing model in international perspective," Working Papers halshs-00567675, HAL.
    19. Pierre Cahuc & Cette Gilbert & André Zylberberg, 2008. "Salaire minimum et bas revenus," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00638149, HAL.
    20. Eva Gutiérrez-i-Puigarnau & Jos N. Van Ommeren, 2012. "Start Time and Worker Compensation Implications for Staggered-Hours Programmes," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 46(2), pages 205-220, May.
    21. Anke Hassel, 2014. "The Paradox of Liberalization — Understanding Dualism and the Recovery of the German Political Economy," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(1), pages 57-81, March.
    22. Bettendorf, Leon J.H. & Folmer, Kees & Jongen, Egbert L.W., 2014. "The dog that did not bark: The EITC for single mothers in the Netherlands," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 49-60.
    23. Kuddo, Arvo, 2009. "Labor laws in Eastern European and Central Asian countries : minimum norms and practices," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 51698, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    minimum wage; labour cost; taxation; OECD;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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