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On the Optimality of a Minimum Wage: New Insights from Optimal Tax Theory

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  • Hungerbühler, Mathias

    () (University of Namur)

  • Lehmann, Etienne

    () (CRED, Université Panthéon Assas Paris 2)

Abstract

We build a theoretical model to study whether a minimum wage can be welfare-improving if it is implemented in conjunction with an optimized nonlinear income tax. We consider this issue in a framework where search frictions on the labor market generate unemployment. Workers differ in productivity. The government does not observe workers’ productivity but only their wages. Hence, the redistributive policy solves an adverse selection problem. We show that a minimum wage is optimal if the bargaining power of the workers is relatively low. However, if the government controls the bargaining power, then it is preferable to set a sufficiently high bargaining power.

Suggested Citation

  • Hungerbühler, Mathias & Lehmann, Etienne, 2007. "On the Optimality of a Minimum Wage: New Insights from Optimal Tax Theory," IZA Discussion Papers 2957, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2957
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    5. Allen, Franklin, 1982. "Optimal linear income taxation with general equilibrium effects on wages," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 135-143, March.
    6. Boadway, Robin & Cuff, Katherine, 2001. "A minimum wage can be welfare-improving and employment-enhancing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 553-576, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bunching; optimal taxation; minimum wage; search-matching unemployment; wage bargaining;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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