IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Alternative Labor Market Policies to Increase Economic Self-Sufficiency: Mandating Higher Wages, Subsidizing Employment, and Increasing Productivity

  • David Neumark

I review evidence on alternative labor market policies that could potentially improve economic self-sufficiency via mandating higher wages, subsidizing employment, or increasing productivity. The evidence indicates that the minimum wage is an ineffective policy to promote economic self-sufficiency, entailing employment losses without any corresponding distributional benefits via higher wages. In contrast, living wage laws appear to present a more favorable tradeoff. Labor supply incentives, in particular the EITC, appear effective, as a more generous EITC boosts employment of single mothers and in so doing raises incomes and earnings of low-income families. There is some evidence that wage subsidies increase employment and earnings, but problems of stigmatization resulting from eligibility for wage subsidy programs can dissipate the gains, and wage subsidies entail substantial administrative difficulties. Finally, a newer but growing literature on school-to-work provides some evidence that school-to-work programs boost labor market attachment, skill formation, wages, and earnings.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14807.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “Alternative Labor Market Policies to Increase Economic Self-Sufficiency: Mandating Higher Wages, Subsidizing Employment, and Raising Productivity,” David Neumark (In Making the Work-Based Safety Net Work Better, 2009, Carolyn J. Heinrich and John Karl Scholz, Eds. (New York: Russell Sage Foundation), pp. 25-78.)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14807
Note: LS
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Brown, Charles & Gilroy, Curtis & Kohen, Andrew, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 487-528, June.
  2. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 2003. "Minimum wages and skill acquisition: another look at schooling effects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-10, February.
  3. Arindrajit Dube & T. William Lester & Michael Reich, 2010. "Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 945-964, November.
  4. Betts, Julian R, 1995. "Does School Quality Matter? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 231-50, May.
  5. Richard V. Burkhauser & Joseph J. Sabia, 2007. "The Effectiveness Of Minimum-Wage Increases In Reducing Poverty: Past, Present, And Future," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(2), pages 262-281, 04.
  6. John T. Addison & McKinleyl Blackburn, 1999. "Minimum Wages and Poverty," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 393-409, April.
  7. David Fairris & Roberto Pedace, 2003. "The Impact of Minimum Wages on Job Training: An Empirical Exploration with Establishment Data," Working Papers 03-04, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Scott Adams & David Neumark, 2005. "Living Wage Effects: New and Improved Evidence," Economic Development Quarterly, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, vol. 19(1), pages 80-102, February.
  9. Debra Donahoe & Marta Tienda, 1999. "Human Asset Development and the Transition from School to Work: Policy Lessons for the 21st Century," Working Papers 322, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Office of Population Research..
  10. Janet Currie & Bruce Fallick, 1993. "The Minimum Wage and the Employment of Youth: Evidence from the NLSY," NBER Working Papers 4348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Timothy J. Bartik, . "Thinking about Living Wage Requirements," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles tjb2004, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  13. Scott Adams & David Neumark, 2004. "The Economic Effects of Living Wage Laws: A Provisional Review," PPIC Working Papers 2004.10, Public Policy Institute of California.
  14. Abowd, John M. & Kramarz, Francis & Margolis, David N. & Philippon, Thomas, 2000. "The Tail of Two Countries: Minimum Wages and Employment in France and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 203, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Cancian, Maria & Levinson, Arik, 2006. "Labor Supply Effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit: Evidence from Wisconsin's Supplemental Benefit for Families with Three Children," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(4), pages 781-800, December.
  16. David Card, 1992. "Do Minimum Wages Reduce Employment? A Case Study of California, 1987–89," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 38-54, October.
  17. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Hilary W. Hoynes & Marianne P Bitler & Jonah Gelbach, 2005. "What Mean Impacts Miss:Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," Working Papers 531, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  19. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
  20. repec:sae:ilrrev:v:49:y:1996:i:3:p:547-552 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-93, September.
  22. Timothy J. Bartik, 2002. "Thinking about Local Living Wage Requirements," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 02-76, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  23. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa J. Sridhar, 2006. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 761-786, October.
  24. Peter Cappelli & David Neumark, 2001. "Do “High-Performance†Work Practices Improve Establishment-Level Outcomes?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(4), pages 737-775, July.
  25. Allegretto, Sylvia & Dube, Arindrajit & Reich, Michael, 2010. "Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment? Accounting for Heterogeneity and Selectivity in State Panel Data," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt7jq2q3j8, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14807. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.