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The Effects of Increasing the Minimum Wage on Prices: Analyzing the Incidence of Policy Design and Context

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel MacDonald

    (California State University, San Bernadino)

  • Eric Nilsson

    (California State University, San Bernadino)

Abstract

We analyze the price pass-through effect of the minimum wage and use the results to provide insight into the competitive structure of low-wage labor markets. Using monthly price series, we find that the pass-through effect is entirely concentrated on the month that the minimum wage change goes into effect, and is much smaller than what the canonical literature has found. We then discuss why our results differ from that literature, noting the impact of series interpolation in generating most of the previous results. We then use the variation in the size of the minimum wage change to evaluate the competitive nature of low-wage labor markets. Finally, we exploit the rich variation in minimum wage policy of the last 10–15 years—including the rise of state and city-level minimum wage changes and the increased use of indexation—to investigate how the extent of price pass-through varies by policy context. This paper contributes to the literature by clarifying our understanding of the dynamics and magnitude of the pass-through effect and enriching the discussion of how different policies may shape the effect that minimum wage hikes have on prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel MacDonald & Eric Nilsson, 2016. "The Effects of Increasing the Minimum Wage on Prices: Analyzing the Incidence of Policy Design and Context," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 16-260, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:16-260
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Subir K. Chakrabarti & Srikant Devaraj & Pankaj C. Patel, 2021. "Minimum wage and restaurant hygiene violations: Evidence from Seattle," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 42(1), pages 85-99, January.
    2. Daniel Cooper & María José Luengo‐Prado & Jonathan A. Parker, 2020. "The Local Aggregate Effects of Minimum Wage Increases," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(1), pages 5-35, February.
    3. Natalia Mishagina & Claude Montmarquette, 2018. "The Demand for Economic Policies, Beliefs, and Willingness-to-Pay: The Case of the Minimum Wage Policy in Quebec," CIRANO Project Reports 2018rp-14, CIRANO.
    4. Nicholas A. Ashford & Ralph P. Hall & Johan Arango-Quiroga & Kyriakos A. Metaxas & Amy L. Showalter, 2020. "Addressing Inequality: The First Step Beyond COVID-19 and Towards Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(13), pages 1-43, July.
    5. Mishagina, Natalia & Montmarquette, Claude, 2021. "The role of beliefs in supporting economic policies: The case of the minimum wage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 1059-1087.
    6. Allegretto, Sylvia & Reich, Michael, 2016. "Are Local Minimum Wages Absorbed by Price Increases? Estimates from Internet-based Restaurant Menus," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt1b8985k3, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Minimum wage; pass-through effect; monopsony; public policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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