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Labor Market and Income Effects of a Legal Minimum Wage in Germany


  • Müller, Kai-Uwe

    () (DIW Berlin)

  • Steiner, Viktor

    () (Free University of Berlin)


In view of rising wage and income inequality, the introduction of a legal minimum wage has recently become an important policy issue in Germany. We analyze the distributional effects of a nationwide legal minimum wage of 7.50 € per hour on the basis of a microsimulation model which accounts for the complex interactions between individual wages, the tax-benefit system and net household incomes, also taking into account potential employment effects as well as indirect effects on consumption. Simulation results show that the minimum wage would be rather ineffective in raising net household incomes and reducing income inequality, even if it led to a substantial increase in hourly wages at the bottom of the wage distribution. The ineffectiveness of a minimum wage in Germany is mainly due to the existing system of means-tested income support and the position of minimum wage earners in the income distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4929

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter Haan & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Making Work Pay for the Elderly Unemployed - Evaluating Alternative Policy Reforms for Germany," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 64(3), pages 380-402, September.
    2. Amanda Gosling, 1996. "Minimum wages: possible effects on the distribution of income," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 17(4), pages 31-48, November.
    3. Sutherland, H., 2001. "The National Minimum Wage and In-work Poverty," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0111, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. Herwig Immervoll, 2007. "Minimum Wages, Minimum Labour Costs and the Tax Treatment of Low-Wage Employment," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 46, OECD Publishing.
    5. Johnson, William R & Browning, Edgar K, 1983. "The Distributional and Efficiency Effects of Increasing the Minimum Wage: A Simulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 204-211, March.
    6. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich & Peter Haan & Johannes Geyer, 2008. "Documentation of the Tax-Benefit Microsimulation Model STSM: Version 2008," Data Documentation 31, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Andreas Knabe & Ronnie Schöb, 2009. "Minimum Wage Incidence: The Case for Germany," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 65(4), pages 403-441, December.
    8. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2005. "Work Incentives and Labor Supply Effects of the ‘Mini-Jobs Reform’ in Germany," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 91-116, March.
    9. Barry Bluestone & Teresa Ghilarducci, "undated". "Making Work Pay, Wage Insurance for the Working Poor," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_28, Levy Economics Institute.
    10. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hanna Frings, 2013. "The Employment Effect of Industry-Specific, Collectively Bargained Minimum Wages," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 14(3), pages 258-281, August.
    2. Caliendo, Marco & Fedorets, Alexandra & Preuß, Malte & Schröder, Carsten & Wittbrodt, Linda, 2017. "The Short-Run Employment Effects of the German Minimum Wage Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 11190, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Carsten Schröder, 2014. "Kosten und Nutzen von Mindestlöhnen," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 22, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item


    minimum wage; wage distribution; employment effects; income distribution; inequality; microsimulation;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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