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A Minimum Wage can be Welfare-Improving and Employment-Enhancing

  • Robin Boadway


    (Queen's University)

  • Katherine Cuff

    (Queen's University)

We examine whether minimum wages can fulfill a useful role as part of an optimal nonlinear income tax scheme. In this setting, governments cannot observe household abilities, only their incomes. Redistributing according to income, the government is constrained by a set of incentive constraints. Firms, on the other hand, are able to identify abilities of workers. To exploit that, the government imposes a minimum wage. This will preclude firms from offering a job to anyone below the minimum wage. The use of the minimum wage policy combined with the institutional features of typical welfare systems allows the incentive constraints to be severed at the ability level associated with the minimum wage. If such a scheme can be enforced, the government can increase the amount of redistribution from those working to those not working. Moreover, the optimal minimum wage may actually lower the number of unemployed.

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Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 980.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Feb 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:980
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  1. Boadway, R. & Marchand, M., 1990. "The use of public expenditures for distributive purposes," CORE Discussion Papers 1990066, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Marhuenda, Francisco & Ortuno-Ortin, Ignacio, 1997. " Tax Enforcement Problems," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 61-72, March.
  3. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & SATO, Motohiro, . "Subsidies versus public provision of private goods as instruments for redistribution," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1355, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Lang, Kevin & Kahn, Shulamit, 1998. "The effect of minimum-wage laws on the distribution of employment: theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 67-82, July.
  5. Cahuc, Pierre & Michel, Philippe, 1996. "Minimum wage unemployment and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1463-1482, August.
  6. Weymark, John A., 1986. "A reduced-form optimal nonlinear income tax problem," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 199-217, July.
  7. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1984. "Effective Policy Tools and Quantity Controls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 59-86, January.
  8. Boadway, Robin & Cuff, Katherine & Marchand, Maurice, 2000. " Optimal Income Taxation with Quasi-linear Preferences Revisited," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(4), pages 435-60.
  9. Brunner, Johann K., 1993. "A note on the optimum income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 445-451, March.
  10. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff, 1999. "Monitoring Job Search as an Instrument For Targeting Transfers," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 317-337, August.
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  12. Myles,Gareth D., 1995. "Public Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497695.
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  14. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1995. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Teenage Employment and Enrollment: Evidence from Matched CPS Surveys," NBER Working Papers 5092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Swinnerton, Kenneth A, 1996. "Minimum Wages in an Equilibrium Search Model with Diminishing Returns to Labor in Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 340-55, April.
  17. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1987. "Minimum wage legislation as a second best policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 490-498.
  18. Ebert, Udo, 1992. "A reexamination of the optimal nonlinear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 47-73, October.
  19. 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.
  20. James B. Rebitzer & Lowell J. Taylor, 1991. "The Consequences of Minimum Wage Laws: Some New Theoretical Ideas," NBER Working Papers 3877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Diamond, P., 1994. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Exemple with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," Working papers 94-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  22. Lollivier, Stefan & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1983. "Bunching and second-order conditions: A note on optimal tax theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 392-400, December.
  23. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1996. "Tax evasion and the optimum general income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 235-249, May.
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