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Is the Time-Series Evidence on Minimum Wage Effects Contaminated by Publication Bias?

  • David Neumark
  • William Wascher

Publication bias in economics may lead to selective specification searches that result in overreporting in the published literature of results consistent with economists' priors. In reassessing the published time-series studies on the employment effects of minimum wages, some recent research has reported evidence consistent with publication bias, and concluded that the most plausible explanation of this evidence is editors' and authors' tendencies to look for negative and statistically significant estimates of the employment effect of the minimum wage, (Card and Krueger, 1995a, p. 242). We present results indicating that the evidence is more consistent with a change in the estimated minimum wage effect over time than with publication bias. More generally, we demonstrate that existing approaches to testing for publication bias may generate spurious evidence of such bias when there are structural changes in some parameters. We then suggest an alternative strategy for testing for publication bias that is more immune to structural change. Although changing parameters may be uncommon in clinical trials on which most of the existing literature on publication bias is based, they are much more plausible in economics.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5631.

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Date of creation: Jun 1996
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Publication status: published as Economic Inquiry, Vol. 36, no. 3 (July 1998): 458-470
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5631
Note: LS
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  1. Gary Solon, 1985. "The Minimum Wage and Teenage Employment: A Reanalysis with Attention to Serial Correlation and Seasonality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(2), pages 292-297.
  2. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1981. "Minimum Wages and the Demand for Labor," NBER Working Papers 0656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Charles Brown & Curtis Gilroy & Andrew Kohen, 1983. "Time-Series Evidence of the Effect of the Minimum Wage on Youth Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 3-31.
  4. 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.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  6. De Long, J Bradford & Lang, Kevin, 1992. "Are All Economic Hypotheses False?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1257-72, December.
  7. Siskind, Frederic B, 1977. "Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States: Comment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(1), pages 135-38, January.
  8. Welch, Finis, 1974. "Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(3), pages 285-318, September.
  9. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1994. "Minimum Wage Effects and Low-Wage Labor Markets: A Disequilibrium Approach," NBER Working Papers 4617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Eugene Canjels & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "Estimating Deterministic Trends In The Presence Of Serially Correlated Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 184-200, May.
  11. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Time-Series Minimum-Wage Studies: A Meta-analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 238-43, May.
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