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The Employment Effects of Minimum Wages: Some Questions We Need to Answer

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  • David Neumark

Abstract

The literature on the employment effects of minimum wages is about a century old, and includes hundreds of studies. Yet the debate among researchers about the employment effects of minimum wages remains intense and unsettled. This essay discusses the key questions that have arisen in the past research that, if we can answer them, may prove most useful in making sense of the conflicting evidence. I also focus on additional questions we should consider to better inform the policy debate, in particular in the context of the very high minimum wages coming on line in the United States, about which past research is quite uninformative.

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  • David Neumark, 2017. "The Employment Effects of Minimum Wages: Some Questions We Need to Answer," NBER Working Papers 23584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23584
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    1. Braun Helge & Döhrn Roland & Krause Michael & Micheli Martin & Schmidt Torsten, 2020. "Macroeconomic Long-Run Effects of the German Minimum Wage when Labor Markets are Frictional," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 240(2-3), pages 351-386, April.
    2. Joan Monras & Javier Vázquez-Grenno & Ferran Elias, 2017. "Understanding the Effects of Legalizing Undocumented Immigrants," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1708, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    3. Monika Köppl-Turyna & Michael Christl & Dénes Kucsera, 2019. "Beschäftigungseffekte von Mindestlöhnen: Die Dosis macht das Gift," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 72(02), pages 40-46, January.
    4. Christian Moser & Niklas Engbom, 2016. "Earnings Inequality and the Minimum Wage: Evidence from Brazil," 2016 Meeting Papers 72, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Braun, Helge & Döhrn, Roland & Krause, Michael & Micheli, Martin & Schmidt, Torsten, 2020. "Macroeconomic Long-Run Effects of the German Minimum Wage when Labor Markets are Frictional," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 351-386.
    6. Lukiyanova, A., 2018. "Minimum wage and minimum wages in Russia," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 176-186.
    7. Sjöholm, Fredrik, 2020. "Minimum Wages and Firm-Level Employment in a Developing Country," Working Papers 2020:4, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    8. Clemens, Jeffrey & Wither, Michael, 2019. "The minimum wage and the Great Recession: Evidence of effects on the employment and income trajectories of low-skilled workers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 53-67.
    9. Lordan, Grace & Neumark, David, 2018. "People versus machines: The impact of minimum wages on automatable jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 40-53.
    10. Lordan, Grace & Neumark, David, 2017. "People versus machines: the impact of minimum wages on automatable," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84060, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Amanda Y. Agan & Michael D. Makowsky, 2018. "The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism," Working Papers 616, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    12. Katzkowicz, Sharon & Pedetti, Gabriela & Querejeta, Martina & Bergolo, Marcelo, 2021. "Low-skilled workers and the effects of minimum wage in a developing country: Evidence based on a density-discontinuity approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    13. Mark Borgschulte & Heepyung Cho, 2020. "Minimum Wages and Retirement," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 73(1), pages 153-177, January.
    14. Doruk Cengiz & Arindrajit Dube & Attila S. Lindner & David Zentler-Munro, 2021. "Seeing Beyond the Trees: Using Machine Learning to Estimate the Impact of Minimum Wages on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 28399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Sharon Katzkowicz & Gabriela Pedetti & Martina Querejeta & Marcelo Bérgolo, 2019. "Low-Skilled Workers and the Effects of Minimum Wage: New Evidence Based on a Density-Discontinuity Approach," Working Papers PMMA 2019-10, PEP-PMMA.
    16. Xue Bai & Arpita Chatterjee & Kala Krishna & Hong Ma, 2018. "Trade and Minimum Wages in General Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Işık Enes & Orhangazi Özgür & Tekgüç Hasan, 2020. "Heterogeneous effects of minimum wage on labor market outcomes: A case study from Turkey," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 10(1), pages 1-41, March.
    18. Jeffrey Clemens & Michael R. Strain, 2018. "The Short‐Run Employment Effects Of Recent Minimum Wage Changes: Evidence From The American Community Survey," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 711-722, October.
    19. Borgschulte, Mark & Cho, Heepyung, 2018. "Minimum Wages and Retirement," IZA Discussion Papers 11728, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2019. "Minimum Wages and Productivity: Evidence from Japan," Policy Discussion Papers 19015, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    21. Oliver Bruttel, 2019. "The effects of the new statutory minimum wage in Germany: a first assessment of the evidence," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 53(1), pages 1-13, December.

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    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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