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The Economic Effects of Living Wage Laws: A Provisional Review

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  • Scott Adams
  • David Neumark

Abstract

Nearly 100 cities and local governments in the United States have passed living wage laws since the mid-1990s. Although the central goal of living wages is to reduce poverty, they may fail to do so because of disemployment effects. We summarize and critique the existing research on the effects of living wages on wages, employment, and family income, emphasizing common findings, points of disagreement, and important questions for future research. The evidence thus far points to wage increases as well as employment losses for the least-skilled, although there is disagreement about the employment effects. On balance, there are some beneficial distributional effects. The evidence also points to efficiency wage-type effects of living wage laws that may offset some of the adverse effects on employers.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Adams & David Neumark, 2004. "The Economic Effects of Living Wage Laws: A Provisional Review," PPIC Working Papers 2004.10, Public Policy Institute of California.
  • Handle: RePEc:ppi:ppicwp:2004.10
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 2005. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Distribution of Family Incomes: A Nonparametric Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 867-894.
    2. David Neumark, 2004. "Living Wages: Protection for or Protection from Low-Wage Workers?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(1), pages 27-51, October.
    3. Reich, Michael & Hall, Peter & Jacobs, Ken, 2003. "Living Wage Policies at San Francisco Airport:: Impacts on Workers and Businesses," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt8km9s5m7, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    4. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    5. Timothy J. Bartik, 2002. "Thinking about Local Living Wage Requirements," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 02-76, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    6. David Neumark & Scott Adams, 2003. "Do Living Wage Ordinances Reduce Urban Poverty?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
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    Cited by:

    1. Holzer, Harry J., 2008. "Living Wage Laws: How Much Do (Can) They Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 3781, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. David Neumark & Matthew Thompson & Leslie Koyle, 2012. "The effects of living wage laws on low-wage workers and low-income families: What do we know now?," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-34, December.
    3. David Neumark, 2009. "Alternative Labor Market Policies to Increase Economic Self-Sufficiency: Mandating Higher Wages, Subsidizing Employment, and Increasing Productivity," NBER Working Papers 14807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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