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Minimum Wages and Firm Profitability

  • Mirko Draca
  • Stephen Machin
  • John Van Reenen

Although there is a large literature on the economic effects of minimum wages on labour market outcomes (especially employment), there is much less evidence on their impact on firm performance. In this paper we consider a very under-studied area - the impact of minimum wages on firm profitability. The analysis exploits the changes induced by the introduction of a national minimum wage to the UK labour market in 1999, using pre-policy information on the distribution of wages to construct treatment and comparison groups and implement a difference in differences approach. We report evidence showing that firm profitability was significantly reduced (and wages significantly raised) by the minimum wage introduction. This emerges from separate analyses of two distinct types of firm level panel data (one on firms in a very low wage sector, UK residential care homes, and a second on firms across all sectors). We find that net entry rates have fallen, but that the changes in exit and entry rates are statistically insignificant.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13996.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Publication status: published as Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2011. "Minimum Wages and Firm Profitability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 129-51, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13996
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