Low-Wage Labor Markets and the Power of Suggestion
Low-wage labor markets are traditionally viewed as competitive, and the possibility of strategic behavior by employers is dismissed. However, such behavior is not impossible. This paper investigates the possibility of tacit collusion by low-wage employers while setting wages. A game-theoretic explanation along the lines of the Folk theorem is offered, suggesting that a non-binding minimum wage may serve as a focal point for tacit collusion, proposing a symmetric solution to an infinitely played game of wage-setting. Several empirical techniques were employed in testing the hypothesis, including hurdle models of collusion. CPS monthly data is used for the years 1990-2005, covering the last four federal minimum wage increases. The likelihood of collusion at minimum wage is evaluated, as well as its dynamics during this period. The results generally support the collusion hypothesis and suggest that employers respond strategically to changes in minimum wage legislation while using the statutory minimum wage as a coordination tool in tacit collusion.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2008|
|Date of revision:||Dec 2008|
|Note:||I thank my adviser Christian Zimmermann for advice and support; professors Alpert, Couch, Dharmapala and Furtado for their discussions and comments; participants of the 2008 IRS Sundance Conference on Monopsony, particularly David Card, 2008 SOLE meetings, 10th IZA Summer School in Labor Economics, and UConn brownbag seminars for their input. All remaining mistakes are my own.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063|
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Janet Currie & Bruce C. Fallick, 1996.
"The Minimum Wage and the Employment of Youth Evidence from the NLSY,"
Journal of Human Resources,
University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 404-428.
- 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.
- John DiNardo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1995.
"Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach,"
NBER Working Papers
5093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-44, September.
- Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
- Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- Flinn, Christopher, 2003. "Minimum Wage Effects on Labor Market Outcomes under Search with Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Borenstein, S. & Shepard, A., 1993.
"Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gazoline Markets,"
93-22, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
- repec:sae:ilrrev:v:49:y:1996:i:3:p:547-552 is not listed on IDEAS
- Christopher R. Knittel & Victor Stango, 2003.
"Price Ceilings as Focal Points for Tacit Collusion: Evidence from Credit Cards,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1703-1729, December.
- Christopher R. Knittel & Victor Stango, 2001. "Price ceilings as focal points for tacit collusion: evidence from credit cards," Working Paper Series WP-01-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Marshall, R.C. & Richard J.F., 1995.
"Bider Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales,"
7-95-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
- Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2003. "Where the Minimum Wage Bites Hard: Introduction of Minimum Wages to a Low Wage Sector," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 154-180, 03.
- Maarten Janssen, 2001. "Rationalizing Focal Points," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 119-148, March.
- David Neumark & William Wascher, 1993. "Employment effects of minimum and subminimum wages: reply to Card, Katz, and Krueger," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 144, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- 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.
- Andrew Colman, 1997. "Salience and focusing in pure coordination games," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 61-81.
- R. V. Burkhauser & K. A. Couch & A. J. Glenn, . "Public policies for the working poor: The earned income tax credit versus minimum wage legislation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1074-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
- Richard Dickens & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1994.
"Estimating the effect of minimum wages on employment from the distribution of wages: a critical view,"
LSE Research Online Documents on Economics
51648, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Dickens, Richard & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1998. "Estimating the effect of minimum wages on employment from the distribution of wages: A critical view," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 109-134, June.
- Richard Dickens & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1994. "Estimating the Effect of Minimum Wages on Employment from the Distribution of Wages: A Critical View," CEP Discussion Papers dp0203, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Brown, Charles, 1999. "Minimum wages, employment, and the distribution of income," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 2101-2163 Elsevier.
- David Neumark & William Wascher, 1993. "Employment Effects of Minimum and Subminimum Wages: Reply to Card, Katz and Krueger," NBER Working Papers 4570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Christie, William G & Harris, Jeffrey H & Schultz, Paul H, 1994. " Why Did NASDAQ Market Makers Stop Avoiding Odd-Eighth Quotes?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1841-60, December.
- 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.
- Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
- Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
- Freeman, Richard B, 1996. "The Minimum Wage as a Redistributive Tool," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 639-49, May.
- Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
- David R. Howell & Margaret Duncan & Bennett Harrison, 1998. "Low Wages in the US and High Unemployment in Europe: A Critical Assessment of the Conventional Wisdom," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 1998-01, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School, revised Aug 1998.
- David S. Lee, 1999. "Wage Inequality in the United States During the 1980s: Rising Dispersion or Falling Minimum Wage?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 977-1023.
- David Neumark & DMark Schweitzer & DaWilliam Wascher, 2004. "Minimum Wage Effects throughout the Wage Distribution," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
- Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2002.
"Has the national minimum wage reduced UK wage inequality?,"
LSE Research Online Documents on Economics
20079, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2004. "Has the national minimum wage reduced UK wage inequality?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 167(4), pages 613-626.
- Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2002. "Has The National Minimum Wage Reduced UK Wage Inequality?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0533, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Coen N. Teulings, 2003. "The contribution of minimum wages to increasing wage inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 801-833, October.
- Robert H. Meyer & David A. Wise, 1981.
"Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth,"
NBER Working Papers
0711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Meyer, Robert H & Wise, David A, 1983. "Discontinuous Distributions and Missing Persons: The Minimum Wage and Unemployed Youth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1677-98, November.
- David Neumark & William L. Wascher, 2008. "Minimum Wages," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262141027.
- Binmore, Ken & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "The evolution of focal points," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 21-42, April.
- Timothy J. Richards & Paul M. Patterson & Ram N. Acharya, 2001. "Price Behavior in a Dynamic Oligopsony: Washington Processing Potatoes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(2), pages 259-271.
- Crawford, Vincent P & Haller, Hans, 1990. "Learning How to Cooperate: Optimal Play in Repeated Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 571-95, May.
- Robert Porter, 2005. "Detecting Collusion," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 147-167, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-33. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark McConnel)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.