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Youth Minimum Wage Reform and the Labour Market

  • Dean Hyslop
  • Steven Stillman

    ()

    (New Zealand Treasury
    Department of Labour)

This paper analyses the effects of a large reform in the minimum wages affecting youth workers in New Zealand since 2001. Prior to this reform, a youth minimum wage, applying to 16-19 year-olds, was set at 60% of the adult minimum. The reform had two components. First, it lowered the eligible age for the adult minimum wage from 20 to 18 years, and resulted in a 69 percent increase in the minimum wage for 18 and 19 year- olds. Second, the reform raised the youth minimum wage in two annual steps from 60% to 80% of the adult minimum, and resulted in a 41 percent increase in the minimum wage for 16 and 17 year-olds over a two-year period. We use data from the New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) to estimate the impact of these changes on a variety of labour market and related outcomes. We compare the average outcomes of these two groups of teenagers, before and after the policy reform, to those of 20-25 year- olds, who were unaffected by the reform. We find no robust evidence of adverse effects on youth employment or hours worked. In fact, we find stronger evidence of positive employment responses to the changes for both groups of teenagers, and that 16-17 year-olds increased their hours worked by 10-15 percent following the minimum wage changes. Given the absence of any adverse employment effects, we find significant increases in labour earnings and total income of teenagers relative to young adults. However, we do find some evidence of a decline in educational enrolment, and an increase in unemployment and inactivity, although these results depend on the specification adopted.

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File URL: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/wp/2004/04-03/twp04-03.pdf
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Paper provided by New Zealand Treasury in its series Treasury Working Paper Series with number 04/03.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:04/03
Contact details of provider: Postal: New Zealand Treasury, PO Box 3724, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: +64-4-472 2733
Fax: +64-4-473 0982
Web page: http://www.treasury.govt.nz

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  1. Burkhauser, Richard V & Couch, Kenneth A & Wittenburg, David C, 2000. "A Reassessment of the New Economics of the Minimum Wage Literature with Monthly Data from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 653-80, October.
  2. Richard Dickens & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1994. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0183, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  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 772-93, September.
  4. 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.
  5. Philippe Van Kerm, 2003. "Adaptive kernel density estimation," United Kingdom Stata Users' Group Meetings 2003 15, Stata Users Group.
  6. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 1995. "Minimum Wage Effects on Employment and School Enrollment," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 199-206, April.
  7. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & Thomas Lemieux & David N. Margolis, 1997. "Minimum Wages and Youth Employment in France and the United States," NBER Working Papers 6111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Portugal, Pedro & Cardoso, Ana Rute, 2002. "Disentangling the Minimum Wage Puzzle: An Analysis of Worker Accessions and Separations," IZA Discussion Papers 544, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. Alan B. Krueger & David Card, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1397-1420, December.
  11. William Wascher & David Neumark, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
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