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The Labor Market Impact of Federal Regulation: OSHA, ERISA, EEO, and Minimum Wage


  • Olivia S. Mitchell


This paper critically evaluates the contribution of labor economics and industrial relations research to our understanding of the impact of government labor market regulation. Recent theoretical and empirical literature is analyzed for four major policies: (a) workplace safety and health; (b) employer-provided pensions; (c) minimums; and (d) employment and pay practices with regard to women and minorities. Studies on EEO and OSHA reforms find small but positive impacts on the outcomes they sought to alter: the minimum wage literature indicates low skilled workers were not benefited much by wage floors; and as yet no analysis exists on whether ERISA improved pension security. Directions for future analysis are suggested, including the role of research in policymaking, whether and how regulatory policy affects labor productivity, and the distributional impact of different forms of regulation on various labor market groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivia S. Mitchell, 1982. "The Labor Market Impact of Federal Regulation: OSHA, ERISA, EEO, and Minimum Wage," NBER Working Papers 0844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0844
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Viscusi, W Kip, 1979. "Job Hazards and Worker Quit Rates: An Analysis of Adaptive Worker Behavior," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(1), pages 29-58, February.
    2. Edward M. Gramlich, 1976. "Impact of Minimum Wages on Other Wages, Employment, and Family Incomes," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 409-462.
    3. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1984. "Life-Cycle Effects on Consumption and Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 353-370, July.
    4. Richard B. Freeman & Wayne B. Gray & Casey Ichniowski, 1981. "Low-Cost Student Labor: The Use and Effects of the Subminimum Wage Provisions for Full-time Students," NBER Working Papers 0765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lucas, Robert E B, 1975. "Hedonic Price Functions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(2), pages 157-178, June.
    6. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Is Equal Opportunity Enough?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 122-126, May.
    7. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    8. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1973. "Approaches to the Economics of Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 287-295, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Donges, Juergen B. & Spinanger, Dean, 1983. "Interventions in labour markets: An overview," Kiel Working Papers 175, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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