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Minimum Wage Policy with Optimal Taxes and Unemployment

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  • Adam M. Lavecchia

    (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON)

Abstract

This paper sheds new light on the desirability of the minimum wage in the presence of an optimal non-linear income tax. Using a search-and-matching framework, I derive a novel condition that links the desirability of the minimum wage to three sufficient statistics: (1) the macro or general equilibrium labor force participation response to the minimum wage by low-skilled individuals; (2) the macro employment response to the minimum wage for low-skilled individuals; and (3) the welfare weight on low-skilled workers. This condition shows that the minimum wage is welfare improving if it pushes the labor market tightness – the ratio of the aggregate number of vacancies to low-skilled job seekers – closer to its efficient level. Guided by the theory, I estimate the first two sufficient statistics using an event study design, as well as state and federal minimum wage variation between 1979-2014. I estimate a macro participation elasticity of -0.24 and a macro employment elasticity of -0.32. The former represents new evidence on a previously overlooked margin of the minimum wage. With these estimates in hand, I simulate the total welfare gains from introducing a minimum wage beginning from the optimal income tax allocation. The simulations show that the minimum wage is welfare improving only if the government has very strong redistributive tastes.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam M. Lavecchia, 2018. "Minimum Wage Policy with Optimal Taxes and Unemployment," Working Papers 1801E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ott:wpaper:1801e
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    Cited by:

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    2. Kory Kroft & Kavan Kucko & Etienne Lehmann & Johannes Schmieder, 2020. "Optimal Income Taxation with Unemployment and Wage Responses: A Sufficient Statistics Approach," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 254-292, February.
    3. Aart Gerritsen & Bas Jacobs, 2020. "Is a Minimum Wage an Appropriate Instrument for Redistribution?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 87(347), pages 611-637, July.
    4. Simon, Andrew & Wilson, Matthew, 2021. "Optimal minimum wage setting in a federal system," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    5. Dávila, Dayana & Alvarado, Rafael, 2022. "Análisis del impacto de la Ley Orgánica para la Promoción del Trabajo Juvenil, Regulación Excepcional de la Jornada de Trabajo, Cesantía y Seguro de Desempleo, sobre el desempleo juvenil en Ecuador," MPRA Paper 113709, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Griffy, Benjamin & Masters, Adrian, 2022. "Labor market policy in the presence of a participation externality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    7. Marcel Steffen Eckardt, 2022. "Minimum wages in an automating economy," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 24(1), pages 58-91, February.
    8. Dami'an Vergara, 2022. "Minimum Wages and Optimal Redistribution in the Presence of Taxes and Transfers," Papers 2202.00839, arXiv.org, revised May 2022.
    9. Brendan Epstein & Ryan Nunn & Musa Orak & Elena Patel, 2020. "Taxation, Social Welfare, and Labor Market Frictions," International Finance Discussion Papers 1284, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Minimum wage; Sufficient statistics; Optimal policy; Labor force participation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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