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The Ambiguous Effect of Minimum Wages on Workers and Total Hours

Author

Listed:
  • Strobl, Eric

    () (Aix-Marseille University)

  • Walsh, Frank

    () (University College Dublin)

Abstract

We model a competitive labour market where firms choose combinations of workers and hours per worker to produce output. If one assumes that the scale of production has no impact on hours per worker, then the change in the number of workers and hours per worker resulting from a minimum wage are inversely related. We demonstrate that total hours worked at the firm may rise for plausible parameter values if there are small fixed costs to hiring workers. Thus, in contrast to the conventional view, we show that the effect of minimum wages on employment is ambiguous.

Suggested Citation

  • Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2008. "The Ambiguous Effect of Minimum Wages on Workers and Total Hours," IZA Discussion Papers 3643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3643
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
    2. Brown, Charles, 1999. "Minimum wages, employment, and the distribution of income," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 2101-2163 Elsevier.
    3. Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2007. "Dealing with monopsony power: Employment subsidies vs. minimum wages," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 83-89, January.
    4. Kinoshita, Tomio, 1987. "Working Hours and Hedonic Wages in the Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1262-1277, December.
    5. Mark B. Stewart & Joanna K. Swaffield, 2008. "The Other Margin: Do Minimum Wages Cause Working Hours Adjustments for Low-Wage Workers?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 148-167, February.
    6. De Fraja, Gianni, 1999. "Minimum Wage Legislation, Productivity and Employment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(264), pages 473-488, November.
    7. Daniel B. Klein & Stewart Dompe, 2007. "Reasons for Supporting the Minimum Wage: Asking Signatories of the "Raise the Minimum Wage" Statement," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(1), pages 125-167, January.
    8. Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2004. "Spikes and spill-overs: The impact of the national minimum wage on the wage distribution in a low-wage sector," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages 95-101, March.
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    10. Neumark, David & Wascher, William L., 2007. "Minimum Wages and Employment," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 3(1–2), pages 1-182, March.
    11. Dickens, Richard & Alan Manning, 2003. "The Impact of the National Minimum Wage on the Wage Distribution in a Low-Wage Sector," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 60, Royal Economic Society.
    12. David Neumark & Mark E. Schweitzer & William L. Wascher, 1999. "The effects of minimum wages throughout the wage distribution," Working Paper 9919, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised Feb 2000.
    13. Bhaskar, V & To, Ted, 1999. "Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 190-203, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    hours; minimum wages; employment;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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