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Raising the Standard: Minimum Wages and Firm Productivity

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  • Rebecca Riley
  • Chiara Rosazza-Bondibene

Abstract

This paper exploits the introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in Britain and subsequent increases in the NMW to identify the effects of minimum wages on productivity. We find that the NMW increased average labour costs for companies that tend to employ low paid workers, both upon the introduction of the NMW and more recently following the Great Recession when many workers experienced pay freezes or wage cuts, but the NMW continued to rise. We find evidence to suggest that companies responded to these increases in labour costs by raising labour productivity. These labour productivity changes did not come about via a reduction in firms' workforce or via capital-labour substitution. Rather they were associated with increases in total factor productivity, consistent with organisational change, training and efficiency wage responses to increased labour costs from minimum wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca Riley & Chiara Rosazza-Bondibene, 2015. "Raising the Standard: Minimum Wages and Firm Productivity," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 449, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:nsr:niesrd:449
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    Cited by:

    1. Bossler, Mario & Gürtzgen, Nicole & Lochner, Benjamin & Betzl, Ute & Feist, Lisa & Wegmann, Jakob, 2018. "Auswirkungen des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns auf Betriebe und Unternehmen," IAB-Forschungsbericht 201804, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    2. David Maré & Dean Hyslop, 2021. "Minimum Wages in New Zealand: Policy and practice in the 21st century," Working Papers 21_03, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
    3. Koch, Andreas & Kirchmann, Andrea & Reiner, Marcel & Scheu, Tobias & Boockmann, Bernhard & Bonin, Holger, 2018. "Verhaltensmuster von Betrieben und Beschäftigten im Zuge der Einführung des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns," IZA Research Reports 84, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Bachmann, Ronald & Bonin, Holger & Boockmann, Bernhard & Demir, Gökay & Felder, Rahel & Isphording, Ingo & Kalweit, René & Laub, Natalie & Vonnahme, Christina & Zimpelmann, Christian, 2020. "Auswirkungen des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns auf Löhne und Arbeitszeiten: Studie im Auftrag der Mindestlohnkommission," RWI Projektberichte, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, number 222998, September.
    5. Lutz Bellmann & Mario Bossler & Hans-Dieter Gerner & Olaf Hübler, 2017. "Training and minimum wages: first evidence from the introduction of the minimum wage in Germany," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 6(1), pages 1-22, December.
    6. Bossler, Mario & Gürtzgen, Nicole & Lochner, Benjamin & Betzl, Ute & Feist, Lisa, 2018. "The German minimum wage: Effects on business expectations, profitability, and investments," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 13/2018, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    7. Mario Bossler & Sandra Broszeit, 2017. "Do minimum wages increase job satisfaction? Micro-data evidence from the new German minimum wage," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 31(4), pages 480-493, December.
    8. Yuci Chen, 2019. "What Do Establishments Do When Wages Increase? Evidence from Minimum Wages in the United States," Working Papers 19-31, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    9. Andrea Garnero, 2018. "The dog that barks doesn’t bite: coverage and compliance of sectoral minimum wages in Italy," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-24, December.
    10. Zhao, Naibao & Sun, Meng, 2021. "Effects of minimum wage on workers’ on-the-job effort and labor market outcomes," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 453-461.
    11. Redmond, Paul & McGuinness, Seamus, 2021. "The impact of the 2016 minimum wage increase on average labour costs, hours worked and employment in Irish firms," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS118.
    12. Julie Froud & Colin Haslam & Sukhdev Johal & Karel Williams, 2020. "(How) does productivity matter in the foundational economy?," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 35(4), pages 316-336, June.
    13. Bossler Mario & Gürtzgen Nicole & Betzl Ute & Feist Lisa & Lochner Benjamin, 2020. "The German Minimum Wage: Effects on Productivity, Profitability, and Investments," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 240(2-3), pages 321-350, April.
    14. Koch, Andreas & Kirchmann, Andrea & Reiner, Marcel & Scheu, Tobias & Zühlke, Anne & Bonin, Holger, 2020. "Verhaltensmuster von Betrieben und Beschäftigten im Kontext des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns," IZA Research Reports 97, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Alessandro Bellocchi & Edgar J. Sanchez Carrera & Giuseppe Travaglini, 2021. "What drives TFP long-run dynamics in five large European economies?," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 38(2), pages 569-595, July.
    16. Devicienti, Francesco & Fanfani, Bernardo, 2021. "Firms' Margins of Adjustment to Wage Growth: The Case of Italian Collective Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 14532, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Bachmann, Ronald & Bonin, Holger & Boockmann, Bernhard & Demir, Gökay & Felder, Rahel & Isphording, Ingo E. & Kalweit, René & Laub, Natalie & Vonnahme, Christina & Zimpelmann, Christian, 2020. "Auswirkungen des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns auf Löhne und Arbeitszeiten," IZA Research Reports 96, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2019. "Minimum Wages and Productivity: Evidence from Japan," Policy Discussion Papers 19015, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    19. Peng-Ju Su, Alice, 2020. "Information advantage and minimum wage," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C).
    20. Sandrini, Luca, 2021. "Incentives for labour-augmenting innovations in vertical markets: The role of wage rate," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    21. Lee, Neil & Green, Anne & Sissons, Paul, 2018. "Low-pay sectors, earnings mobility and economic policy in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84180, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    minimum wage; labour costs; productivity; firm behaviour;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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