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The minimum wage and inequality - the effects of education and technology

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  • Zsofia Barany

Abstract

While there has been intense debate in the empirical literature about the effects of minimum wages on inequality in the US, its general equilibrium effects have been given little attention. In order to quantify the full effects of a decreasing minimum wage on inequality, I build a dynamic general equilibrium model, based on a two-sector growth model where the supply of high-skilled workers and the direction of technical change are endogenous. I find that a permanent reduction in the minimum wage leads to an expansion of low-skilled employment, which increases the incentives to acquire skills, thus changing the composition and size of high-skilled employment. These permanent changes in the supply of labour alter the investment flow into R&D, thereby decreasing the skill-bias of technology. The reduction in the minimum wage has spill-over effects on the entire distribution, affecting uppertail inequality. Through a calibration exercise, I find that a 30 percent reduction in the real value of the minimum wage, as in the early 1980s, accounts for 15 percent of the subsequent rise in the skill premium, 18.5 percent of the increase in overall inequality, 45 percent of the increase in inequality in the bottom half, and 7 percent of the rise in inequality at the top half of the wage distribution.

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  • Zsofia Barany, 2011. "The minimum wage and inequality - the effects of education and technology," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompq, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompqllr09i8hjg0kpi
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    Cited by:

    1. Richter Barbara, 2014. "The skill bias of technological change and the evolution of the skill premium in the US since 1970," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-39, January.
    2. Albertini, Julien & Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, François & Sopraseuth, Thepthida, 2017. "A Tale of Two Countries: A Story of the French and US Polarization," IZA Discussion Papers 11013, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Minimum wage; education; technology; wage inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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