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The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from the US

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  • Richard Dickens
  • Stephen Machin
  • Alan Manning

Abstract

Recent work on the economic effects of minimum wages has stressed that the standard economic model, where increases in minimum wages depress employment, is not supported by the empirical findings in some labour markets. In this paper we present a theoretical framework which is general enough to allow minimum wages to have the conventional negative impact on employment, but which also allows for the possibility of a neutral or a positive effect. The model structure is based on labour market frictions which give employers some degree of monopsony power. The formulated model has a number of empirical implications which we go on to test using data on industry-based minimum wages set by the UK Wages Councils between 1975 and 1990. Some strong results emerge: minimum wages significantly compress the distribution of earnings and, contrary to conventional economic wisdom but in line with several recent studies, do not have a negative impact on employment. If anything, the relationship between minimum wages and employment is estimated to be positive.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Dickens & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1994. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from the US," NBER Working Papers 4742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4742 Note: LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1992. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry," Working Papers 678, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Nickell, Stephen J & Wadhwani, Sushil, 1990. "Insider Forces and Wage Determination," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 496-509, June.
    3. 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 772-793, September.
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    5. David Card & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1993. "Comment on David Neumark and William Wascher, 'Employment Effects of Minimum and Subminimum Wages: Panel Data on State Minimum Wage Laws'," Working Papers 695, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast-Food Industry," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 6-21, October.
    7. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1992. "Minimum Wages," CEP Discussion Papers dp0080, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    12. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & S Woodland, 1993. "Are Workers Paid their Marginal Product? Evidence from a Low Wage Labour Market," CEP Discussion Papers dp0158, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment and Earnings of Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 66-100, January.
    14. Sullivan, Daniel, 1989. "Monopsony Power in the Market for Nurses," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 135-178, October.
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    20. Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1677-1698, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2006. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research," NBER Working Papers 12663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martín Rama, 2001. "The Consequences of Doubling the Minimum Wage: The Case of Indonesia," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(4), pages 864-881, July.
    3. Daniel B. Klein & Stewart Dompe, 2007. "Reasons for Supporting the Minimum Wage: Asking Signatories of the "Raise the Minimum Wage" Statement," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(1), pages 125-167, January.
    4. repec:eur:ejisjr:196 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Deltas, George, 2007. "Can a minimum wage increase employment and reduce prices in a neoclassical perfect information economy?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 657-674, August.
    6. János Köllö, 2010. "Hungary: The Consequences of Doubling the Minimum Wage," Chapters,in: The Minimum Wage Revisited in the Enlarged EU, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan & Rahman, Lupin, 2002. "Where the minimum wage bites hard: the introduction of the UK national minimum wage to a low wage sector," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20070, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Sara Lemos, 2004. "The Effects Of The Minimum Wage On Wages And Employment In Brazil - A Menu Of Minimum Wage Variables," Labor and Demography 0403008, EconWPA.
    9. Stuart Landon, 1997. "High School Enrollment, Minimum Wages and Education Spending," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 23(2), pages 141-163, June.
    10. David Holland & Sanjoy Bhattacharjee & Leroy Stodick, 2006. "Assessing the Economic Impact of Minimum Wage Increases on the Washington Economy: A General Equilibrium Approach," Working Papers 2006-12, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
    11. Alana Gilbert & Euan Phimister & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2001. "The Potential Impact of the Minimum Wage in Rural Areas," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(8), pages 765-770.
    12. Schöb, Ronnie, 2007. "Soziale Grundsicherung und Beschäftigung," Discussion Papers 2007/12, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    13. Elek, Peter & Köllő, János & Reizer, Balázs & Szabó, Péter A., 2011. "Detecting Wage Under-reporting Using a Double Hurdle Model," IZA Discussion Papers 6224, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Jellal, Mohamed, 2012. "Maroc salaire minimum emploi et pauvreté
      [Morocco minimum wage employment and poverty]
      ," MPRA Paper 38491, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Stefano Scarpetta, 1998. "Labour Market Reforms and Unemployment: Lessons from the Experience of the OECD Countries," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6082, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets

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